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THE HITCH-HIKER

USA, 1953 (MIFF 1996, Ida Lupino - Director)

Director: Ida Lupino

The Hitch-Hiker, considered by many, including Lupino herself, to be her best film, is a classic, tension-packed tour de force thriller about two men (Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy) in Mexico on a long-awaited fishing trip whose car and lives are suddenly commandeered by a psychopathic killer (William Talman). The technical brilliance Lupino displays in every one of her films is more visible to all when it is no longer in the service of her own, intensely feminine, and disorientingly 'odd' perspective.

In the familiar framework of a suspense actioner, the elements very hard at work in all Lupino's films magically regain their 'legitimacy' —the striking compositions (two blanketed figures like shrouded corpses separated by a narrow stream from a gun-cradling madman, whose eye cannot close even in sleep), the on-pulse kinetic editing as heightened conscious­ness-flow (the alternation of dramatically linear action sequences and frozen, impossible nervous waiting-time), the spatial integrity of a determined and determining sense of locale (the pitiless topography of a rock-bound, horizonless Mexico over which hovers an ever-present death), the gritty, but never 'degrading' physicality of undecorized, unsymbolic milieus (a haphazard, surprisingly well-stocked Mexican grocery store, a dusty little filling station), and the full utilization of contrasts between night and day, inside and outside (the night's saturation and the day's terrible clarity.- the constant friction between the three men in their fixed car positions and even more fearful range of possibilities outside the car) That is not to say that The Hitch-Hiker is in any way an atypical film from Lupino. Like many tour deforce performances, it incorporates in an abstract, diagrammatic, and condensed form, many of the underlying concerns of her earlier works. (RS)

See also...

THE BIGAMIST

... ... Lupino's last two Filmmakers outings dealt not with adolescent girls but with middle-aged men. In Edmond O'Brien, the perpetually pressured 'middleman' of the 50's, Lupino found the perfect ... More »

OUTRAGE

... ... For a film on the then taboo of rape, Lupino's| Outrage opens breezily enough. It's book­keeper heroine Ann (Mala Powers) has a fiance, whose raise assures her happy integration into the ... More »

The Masks

"Mr. Jason Foster, a tired ancient who on this particular Mardi Gras evening will. leave the earth. But before departing he has some things to do, some services to perform, s some debts to pay and ... More »

No.5 Checked Out

In and of itself, No. 5 Checked Out constitutes a compelling case for the viability of the short form in film. Brilliantly acted, superbly crafted, it comes damn close to perfection-a state Lupino's ... More »

HARD, FAST AND BEAUTIFUL

... ... No exemplary sports biopic peppered with personal problems and topped with sweet victory, Hard Fast & Beautiful signally refuses to equate life with 'the game'-in this case, tennis. Phenom ... More »

MR GEORGE

... ... An extraordinarily visually inventive tale of ghosts and greed, Mr George follows the 'efforts of a trio of middle-aged parasites to rid themselves of the little-girl heiress left in their ... More »

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