The Hitch-Hiker: A Tense Cruise Worth Taking

Due to the history of the industry, it’s rare for a great film of classic Hollywood to be directed by a woman. Thanks to our friends at Miami Beach Cinematheque, a screening of Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker (1953) is just around the corner. As one of the few true classic noir films, The Hitch-Hiker provides a quintessential noir experience while still having a different story to tell.

The Hitch-Hiker follows Roy Collins (Edmond O’Brien) and Gilbert Bowen (Frank Lovejoy) as they travel to Mexico for a fishing trip when they stumble upon a hitch-hiker. When he turns out to be Emmett Myers (William Talman), a psychotic spree-killer on the run from authorities, it’s up to the two men to find a means of escape from the barrel of his gun.

Where most noir films follow the familiar footsteps of a murder-mystery set in the sketchier part of a big city, The Hitch-Hiker prefers to twist the tension of a stand-off and a hostage situation together beneath the emblematic noir shadows. The result is a story which, while simple, provides great moments between the three main characters. O’Brien and Lovejoy deliver excellent performances, delivering on tension and anxiety with ease. In an age that scoffs at the idea of picking up a drifter, Talman’s portrayal of a psychotic killer is still rightfully unnerving.

While The Hitch-Hiker may be too simple for audiences used to big-budget blockbusters thirsty to wow audiences with big sets and bigger stunts, it’s this film’s simplicity that still makes it effective. The period and situation may be dated, but the fears that come with it are still as potent as ever.

Tickets for the screening of The Hitch-Hiker on Thursday, November 29th at 7:00pm can be purchased here.

George Ibarra is a Senior at Florida International University, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a minor in Sociology, along with Certificates in Exile Studies and Film Studies.