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The Hitch-Hiker

Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy pick up a hitch-hiker (William Talman) who turns out to be an insane escaped convict.


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The Hitch-Hiker is a 1953 film noir directed by Ida Lupino about two fishing buddies who pick up a mysterious Hitchhiking during a trip to Mexico.
The movie was written by Robert L. Joseph, Lupino, and her husband Collier Young, based on a story by blacklisted Out of the Past screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring (who did not receive screen credit). The film is based on the true story of psychopathic murderer Billy Cook (criminal).
It is regarded as the first American mainstream film noir directed by a woman. The director of photography was RKO Pictures regular Nicholas Musuraca.<>.</>
In 1998, The Hitch-Hiker was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."


Two men (Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy) on a fishing trip pick up a hitchhiker named Emmett Myers (William Talman (actor)), who turns out to be a psychopath who has committed multiple murders. Police believe Myers is traveling alone, so he holds the two men hostage to avoid detection as he flees towards the Mexican border and listens to news broadcasts of the police chase on the car radio.
Meanwhile, the men try to plot their escape from the violent, paranoid Myers. They try tactics such as sabotaging their car and leaving clues (like an engraved wedding ring) at various points on their journey. One man badly twists his ankle during an escape attempt. The sadistic Meyers physically and mentally torments the men, forcing them to continue on foot and mocking their loyalty to each other by claiming that they could have escaped separately if they embraced Meyers each-man-for-himself ethos.
Arriving at the a border town, Myers tries to conceal his identity by forcing one of the men to wear his clothes. Myers discovers that the regular ferry to Mexico is broken. He hires a fishing boat but, while waiting for the fisherman, locals discover his status as a wanted murderer and contact authorities. Police surround the pier and, after some confusion over Myers identity, take him into custody following a brief scuffle in which the boastful Myers is revealed as a coward.
The film ends with the weary friends agreeing to give statements to police.


  • Edmond O'Brien as Roy Collins
  • Frank Lovejoy as Gilbert Bowen
  • William Talman (actor) as Emmett Myers
  • José Torvay as Captain Alvarado
  • Wendell Niles as Himself
  • Jean Del Val as Inspector General
  • Clark Howat as Government Agent
  • Natividad Vacío as Jose
  • Rodney Bell as William Johnson
Cast notes:
  • Collier Young, husband of director Ida Lupino and the co-writer of the screenplay, makes an uncredited appearance in the film as a Mexican peasant.
  • Background

    Image:Hitch-Hiker Lupino.jpg
    In California in 1950, Billy Cook (criminal) murdered a family of five and a traveling salesman, then kidnapped Deputy Sheriff Homer Waldrip from Blythe, California and ordered him to drive into the desert where he tied Deputy Waldrip up with blanket strips and took his police cruiser, leaving Waldrip to die. Waldrip got loose, however, walked to the main road, and got a ride back to Blythe. Cook was tried, convicted and sentenced to the gas chamber. On December 12, 1952, Cook was executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin Prison in California.</>
    Film critic Dennis Schwartz wrote of the film, "It's a pleasure to watch the action unfold without resorting to clichés. Talman's performance as a sadistic sleaze was powerful. His random crime spree strikes at the heart of middle-class America's insecurity about there being no place free of crime."

    See also

  • List of films in the public domain in the United States

  • Category:1953 films
    Category:1950s crime drama films
    Category:American films
    Category:Black-and-white films
    Category:Film noir
    Category:Films directed by Ida Lupino
    Category:RKO Pictures films
    Category:Road movies
    Category:United States National Film Registry films

    More Public Domain Movies