Hitch-Hiker, The (1953): Ida Lupino’s Film Noir, Starring Edmond O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy

In Ida Lupino’s low-budget, suspenseful film noir, The Hitch-Hiker, two men are on a trip, when their car is suddenly stopped by a murderous fugitive.

Two men (Edmond O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy) from El Centro, California, are driving to a fishing trip at the Mexican town of San Felipe on the Gulf of California.  South of Mexicali, they pick up a hitchhiker, Emmett Myers (William Talman), whose stolen car has run out of gas.

Myers is actually a psychopath who has committed murders while hitch-hiking between Illinois and Southern California, and has managed to slip into Mexico at Mexicali. To evade the authorities, Myers forces the men at gunpoint to journey deep into the Baja California Peninsula, where he plans to take a ferry across the Gulf of California.

The men try to plot their escape from the violent, paranoid Myers, like sabotaging their car and leaving clues (engraved wedding ring) at various points on their journey.

But the sadistic Myers 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 believed in his philosophy, each-man-for-himself.

At Santa Rosalía, Myers tries to conceal his identity by forcing one man to wear his clothes. Upon discovering that the regular ferry to Guaymas has burned down, he hires a fishing boat. However, locals discover his status as a wanted murderer and contact authorities.

Police surround the pier and take him into custody after a brief scuffle in which Myers is revealed to be a coward.

The film ends with the weary friends agreeing to give statements to the police.

The acting is good, particularly of Edmond O’Brien, just before he won the Supporting Oscar Actor for “The Barefoot Contessa,” and William Talman in the menacing titular role.

Still better known as an actress, Ida Lupino is one of the few women who had a sustained directing career in Hollywood of the 1950s.

Edmond O’Brien as Roy Collins
Frank Lovejoy as Gilbert Bowen
William Talman 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



Directed by Ida Lupino

Screenplay: Robert L. Joseph and Ida Lupino

Running Time: 71 Minutes