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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

THE HITCH-HIKER (1952)


Actress Ida Lupino bucked the Hollywood code by helming a series of modestly effective low-budget features in the early’50s with ex-hubby Collier Young producing. (Now, there’s a movie idea.) This tight & nasty noir, about a psychopathic hitch-hiker who grabs a ride with a couple of middle-aged guys, holds up pretty well. William Talman is plenty creepy as the sleepy-eyed serial killer while Edmund O’Brien & Frank Lovejoy play yin & yang as the hostages. As long as we stay with these three, Lupino manages to keep the tension high, there’s hardly an ounce of narrative fat, nothing but sinew & bones. But whenever the film cuts away to show the police getting organized or collecting info, the film dies a little. Still, in it’s crummy manner, emphasized by the murky condition of the surviving materials, Lupino delivers the dread.

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