The Hitch-Hiker

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USA | 1953 | 71 minutes | Ida Lupino

In this nerve-jangling thriller, the only American noir directed by a woman, two buddies on a fishing trip are hijacked by a nomadic killer who plans to murder them after they deliver him to safety.

"Widely considered the first mainstream film noir directed by a woman"—Syfy Wire

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

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SIFF Cinema Uptown

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In the classic canon of films noirs that emerged from Hollywood in the 1940s and '50s, only one, The Hitch-Hiker, was directed by a woman, Ida Lupino. The project was based on a story by Daniel Mainwaring, screenwriter of Out of the Past, inspired by the killing spree of murderer Billy Cook. Lupino co-wrote the screenplay with her producer Collier Young, and while doing so she interviewed both Cook and two of his former hostages to integrate real-life events into the film. The finished work is a marvel of narrative economy from concept to climax: Roy Collins (Edmond O'Brien) and Gilbert Bowen (Frank Lovejoy) have crossed the Mexico border for a fishing trip. Just south of Mexicali, they encounter a stranded driver, Emmett Myers (William Talman), a sadistic psychopath who has committed multiple murders from Illinois to the California border. A desperate Myers takes the two men as hostages, forcing them at gunpoint to drive him further down into Baja on a quixotic journey to escape the ever-encroaching U.S. and Mexican authorities. Restored by the Library of Congress, The Hitch-Hiker is a taut, brutal thriller and a pinnacle achievement of the noir style.

Dan Doody

Director Biography
Ida Lupino, born in 1918 to a showbiz family in London, England and got her first role in 1933 after coming in with her mother Connie Emerald for an audition, booking the role initially intended for her mother. Known for playing tough, hard-luck characters, she had her breakthrough in 1941 with The Sea Wolf and High Sierra and continued making a name for herself opposite such big hitters as Humphrey Bogart and Eddie G. Robinson. After leaving Warner Bros for better roles, she found herself working behind the camera after taking over for the director of 1949's Not Wanted after he fell ill. Throughout the 1950s, she directed a series of melodramas and noirs, one of the only female filmmakers working that decade in the Hollywood studio system and often being the only director willing to tackle unconventional and controversial subject matter. She would go on to work in television, behind the only female director to helm episodes of the original "Twilight Zone" series. She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for her work as an actor and the other for her directorial work. She died of a stroke in 1995 at the age of 77.

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  • Director: Ida Lupino
  • Principal Cast: Frank Lovejoy, Edmond O'Brien, William Talman
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 1953
  • Running Time: 71 minutes
  • Producer: Collier Young
  • Screenplay: Collier Young, Ida Lupino
  • Cinematographers: Nicholas Musuraca
  • Editors: Douglas Stewart
  • Music: Leith Stevens
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: National Film Preservation Board USA, 1998 (National Film Registry)
  • Filmography: The Bigamist (1953); Hard, Fast, and Beautiful (1951); On Dangerous Ground (1951); Outrage (1950); Never Fear (1950); Not Wanted (1949)
  • Language: English
  • Format: DCP
  • US Distributor: Kino Lorber Repertory