Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Hitch-Hiker directed by Ida Lupino (starring Frank Lovejoy, Edmond O'Brien, William Talman)

The Hitch-Hiker (1953). Screenplay by Ida Lupino and Collier Young. Adaptation by Robert Joseph.

This film came in a Classic Film Noir DVD set I received as a Christmas gift. It contains eight other public-domain films noir and, at under $10, is a great deal even if you don't get it for free.

The Hitch-Hiker is widely considered to be the first film noir directed by a woman, acclaimed actress Ida Lupino. The cast, however, is what made me curious to see it, and it was not coincidentally the first film I watched from the set, though it is in fact the second film on the second disc.

To someone like me, this is an all-star cast: Edmond O'Brien (star of D.O.A., also included in this set), Frank Lovejoy (star of Nightbeat, my favorite old-time radio show), and William Talman (Hamilton Burger from TV's Perry Mason, the show that made me want to be a lawyer when I was a teenager). The three leads are all in top form: O'Brien and Lovejoy embracing their everyman status and Talman at his most threatening as the — as Burger his threats were always just below the surface, but Lupino allows him the freedom to truly disturb.

That The Hitch-Hiker is supposedly based on a true story (Lupino co-wrote the screenplay) scarcely enters into the experience after this idea is pronounced on an introductory title card. The film itself is the reason to watch as it makes this simple story far more entertaining than it has any right to be. What would normally serve well as the plot to a half-hour anthology series is stretched to seventy minutes with hardly a look at the clock due to solid performances and a gripping narrative.

1 comment:

August West said...

Craig: Excellent review of an excellent noir movie. I am excited about your site, especially with your western review of True Grit- I seen the book review and the movie review-but you "take the prize" doing a audiobook review. Nice!!!
-drop me an email when you have time, I have a question. Thanks

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