Movie Review: The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

Synopsis: Two friends, Roy Collins and Gilbert Bowen, are traveling in Mexico for a planned fishing trip when they spot a motorist out of gas on the side of the road. They offer the stranger a ride, not knowing he is a serial killer on the run from the authorities. Holding them at gunpoint, the man, Emmett Myers, forces the friends to drive him, making it clear he likely won't let them live.

Who's in it? The movie stars Edmond O'Brien, Frank Lovejoy, William Talman, Wendell Niles and Clark Howat.

Review: I came across this movie a couple days ago and, since I had heard about it but hadn't actually watched it, decided to add it to my library. I finally had a chance to finish it last night and, overall, thought it was a good choice.

At first, I wasn't really sure what to expect from this film, but it turned out to be a fairly decent psychology thriller. Emmett (Talman) didn't seem like he would be that formidable but he managed to stay one step ahead of Roy (O'Brien) and Gilbert (Lovejoy), making their frustration with their situation much more believable, especially when they experienced disappointment whenever it looked like they might be gaining the upperhand.

I especially liked how the movie tested their friendship as well, with one of them remaining calm throughout while the other one was more apt to panic/give Emmett a reason to shoot them. Also adding to the tension was the news on the car radio which, at any moment, could have spelled doom for them if Emmett thought the police were getting close enough to justify killing his hostages and finding another vehicle.

One thing I thought this movie was missing was a better explanation as to why Emmett even bothered taking hostages in the first place rather than simply killing his victims outright and stealing their car. While it was obviously the main point of the plot, it seemed like an unnecessary risk considering they didn't offer any sort of irreplaceable value. It wasn't like he didn't know how to drive a car or was injured.

I also wasn't a huge fan of the ending. For all the build-up and attempt to create some suspense, the actual ending was a bit of a letdown. Part of the reason for this, I think was the film deciding to clue the viewer in on what the police were doing rather than just focusing on the three men in the car. This eliminated the element of surprise in my opinion.

Final Opinion: As I said, the ending needed more work but, even with that, I thought this was a good film. I'd recommend taking the time to watch it if you get an opportunity.

My Grade: B+


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