Suzy Says
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Dangerous Driving Conditions
March 15th, 2009 by suzy in Uncategorized

The last movies in my mini noir fest were two cautionary tales on the hazards of hitch-hiking. Turns out, being picked up can be as hazardous to your health as picking up. You have been warned.

First up was “The Hitch-Hiker” (1953), directed by the multi-talented Ida Lupino*, who steamed up the screen in Road House just a few years earlier. William Talman, best known as the beleaguered District Attorney Hamilton Burger on “Perry Mason”**, plays the title role. If I didn’t know this was filmed a few years before Perry’s TV d├ębut, I’d be convinced that losing to him every single week finally drove Ham Burger over the edge, because in this little flick, he merrily murders the Good Samaritans (showing no good deed really does go unpunished) who give him rides. He takes two hostages, and keeps them on a knife’s edge of terror for several days as they travel toward Mexico and possibly death, with the captor sleeping with one eye literally open to prevent their escape. Lesson: don’t pick up a crazed killer.

In “The Devil Thumbs a Ride” (1947), legendary tough guy Lawrence Tierney plays to type as an armed robber turned killer who hitches a ride to Los Angeles with a kind-hearted salesman. Tierney is anxious to avoid the cops who are hot in his trail, though this doesn’t stop him from picking up some attractive baggage in the shapely shapes of Nan Leslie (who shares my birthday!) and Betty Lawford (yes, related to the infamous Peter Lawford). The salesman makes the mistake of mentioning that a friend has a cottage on Newport Beach which is empty and available for friends to use, and Tierney thinks that would make an excellent hideout (I couldn’t help wondering how many millions it was now worth!). As the night wears on, his companions begin to realize the truth, with some dire results. Lesson: don’t let a crazed killer give you a ride.

*If I can find my way there without my GPS, the Film on Film Foundation is showing a Lupino-directed double bill tonight: “The Bigamist” (1953) and “Outrage” (1950).

**I still have a little crush on Perry and Paul Drake.

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One Response

Hitching a ride has never been recommended, nor is picking up hitch hickers, sadly it could have been a good way to meet differenf folks from different strokes, but alas, our society does not permit such ventures without possible dire consequences.

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