The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

Dir. Ida Lupino. Two old friends are driving down a southern California highway on a fishing trip, when they pick up stranded hitch-hiker, the shifty looking William Talman. This act of generosity is poorly repaid, as William turns out to be a murderous sociopath on the run from the police, hitchhikin’ and killin’ on his way south of the border. A perfect story for a thriller, and expertly told by creative genius and ground-breaking director Ida Lupino, who also co-wrote and produced the film. Lupino based this story on a real-life case of murderer Billy Cook, and even visited him in prison as part of her research for what would have been called The Cook Story, before the FBI insisted on changes so as not to glamorize Cook. The two friends deliver subtle, moving performances, creating a grounded and claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s a rewarding experience studying their faces as you join them in calculating the optimal moment for escape, hoping it’s not too late.

By Nicholas Hudson-Ellis

Co-Founder & Film Programs Manager of Bangkok Screening Room.