Sunday Matinee: The Hitch-Hiker

Ida Lupino started her career in 1930s as an actress but by the 1950s she changed gears and became a director. She became the first woman to direct a film noir with 1953 The Hitch-Hiker.

Loosely based on the true story of convicted serial killer Billy Cook, this tense thriller follows two men on a fishing trip who make the mistake of picking up a hitchhiker.

The hitchhiker is a psychopath named Emmett Myers (William Talman) who takes the two men, (Edmond O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy), hostage and forces them at gunpoint to drive him to the Mexican town Santa RosalĂ­a. The two men try to figure a way to escape, trying to sabotage the car and leaving clues but to no avail.

Myers torments his captives, mocking them for not abandoning each other. Myers believes that it’s everyone for themselves.

The Hitch-Hiker is an excellent low budget thriller. Lupino had already directed four movies by the time she made this film. Tired of the studio system she and her husband had formed their own film production company and had started making issue-oriented movies like Not Wanted, a film about an unwed woman getting pregnant.

Lupino would still act over the years but she continued to direct. She would direct a ton of TV shows in the 1960s including stuff for The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.