Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Netflix It: The Hitch-Hiker

Available from Netflix: The Hitch-Hiker, directed by Ida Lupino

Ida Lupino was the only woman director working in the 1950s. Mad props, Ida! Two things struck me about this movie: all the characters are men, which seems like an odd choice for a woman director, but maybe Lupino just really wanted to avoid a femme fatale cliché. The other is that there are sizable chunks of unsubtitled Spanish, which in movies of the time is even more unusual than an all-male cast.

Synopsis from AllMovie:

Daniel Mainwaring took this story right out of the headlines of the day, penning this true story of a mass murderer who was eventually executed in San Quentin's gas chamber. Released during McCarthy's witch-hunt, Mainwaring was not given credit because Howard R. Hughes, who produced it under RKO, refused to give credit to any "radicals." The story is that of two men on a fishing trip who pick up a hitchhiker. He turns out to be a sadistic psychopath who has committed multiple murders, a sociopath who hates humanity because of his own abuse as a child. He also has an affliction which terrifies these two men: an eye which is permanently open, thereby never allowing them to know if he is really asleep or just faking it--something which he does with regularity to scare them...letting them take off and then meeting up with them just as they feel they have escaped from him. A tense thriller skillfully directed by the only female director of the time, Ida Lupino, it is a suspenseful tale of terror on the highways.

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