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Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose of Darkness #18: Keep Driving (Scene from The Hitch-Hiker)

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What I want to know is why did the first car stop for the male hitchhiker, but it took a few cars to stop for the female hitchhiker in "Kiss Me Deadly"?  Is it because of a film like this where I grew up knowing that you don't pick up hitchhikers?

 

The beginning of this film scared the boogers (for some reason, it gave me a version of white-out when I put s n o t) out of me because I was in fear for the lives of the driver and his passenger.  Most of the movies in the film noir genre don't frighten me as the storylines aren't plausible, so it's fascinating to see to see a movie that starts out like a slasher film, and it has me intrigued as to whether or not the two guys are going to die.  It's a scenario that happened in an episode of "Tales of the Texas Rangers" (which was recorded around the same time this was filmed), so this has my curiousity piqued.

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I keep forgetting to sign in before I write a reply and it gets lost in never never land.  All I wanted to say was that most of the people above wrote eloquently on this clip and the film.  I have not seen it in its entirety, so I'm looking forward to it. I think Ida Lupino was a talented woman, first as an actress and then as a director.  The lead up said she was the only woman to direct a film noir.  

 

I'm also glad someone else thought of Hamilton Burger of Perry Mason fame when the hitchhiker leans forward into the light.  :)

 

I will say that after a while, the dark shadows and background are hard to see clearly.  As I watched the clip, I thought, thank goodness the faces are lighted.

 

Anyway, enjoying the course.

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Another jump-right-in opening that drops us straight into a scene of extreme danger and claustrophobia. Only the three men and the car are lit which conveys a heavy feeling of being trapped, as in a dark tunnel.

 

Like yesterday's opening, the scene starts with a legs-only shot of a person on the road. But he's not fleeing in desperation. Rather, he's waiting quietly. So we immediately sense that he may be a threat and not a victim. The movie keeps him, and us, in the dark - until he pulls the gun and we see his leering face and hear him introduce himself, and then we know for sure. While KISS ME DEADLY started in a mad frenzy, this one starts with a growing sense of threat. The hitch-hiker's calm control is chilling.

 

But both movies mark the rural highway at night, far from the city, as a place to encounter strangers with bad intentions. It puts a dent in the cherished American myth of the open road. And THE HITCH-HIKER, in particular, establishes already in this opening scene the idea of the random victim. If this can happen to two average Joes on a camping trip who just want to be neighborly and help out a guy who ran out of gas, then it can happen to you and me and anyone at any time.

 

 

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That was some use of lighting when the hitch-hiker poked out of the darkness, almost like an evil halo. Much more menace, of course, than in the scene from yesterday. The hitch-hiker also had a seedy mustache which you could see in the close ups, which just added to the menace. The use of lighting in this scene exposes further doom over hope and illumination.

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Both movies start with cars being driven in the night.  The car offered a measure of safety in Kiss Me Deadly but in The Hitchhiker the car becomes engulfed  in danger.

 

In Kiss Me Deadly, Leachman's character is panicked and desparately looking for help in the night. She is barefoot and has no clothes on under the coat, which shows her great vulnerability.Being in the light also shows her vulnerabilty.  Cars drive past her and she finally has to forceably stop a car by standing in front of it.  And Hammer is angry about having to stop, almost doesn't help her. But he finally relents.  Leaving someone stranded on the lonely road wouldn't be right, even for him.  She looks at the car, hoping it's okay to get in.  Once in, she feels a sense of hope and safety, of escape from the danger behind her .   She trusts him to help her and he comes through at the roadblock.

 

In The Hitchhiker, Talman is using shadows for cover, for safey.  No standing the the light for him.  He is cool as a cucumber.  O'Brien and Lovejoy stop and offer help out of common courtesy, as has always been a norm in American culture.  Talman is even offered a cigarette. It is assumed that it's okay to trust people you don't know, even if you're on a lonely, deserted road at night.  But in a minute, their whole world turns upsidedown as O'Brien and Lovejoy realize they are in great danger. You can see the emotions of disbelief and anxiety flash over their faces.  The norms they are used to are suddenly  out the window. Trusting that stranger is suddenly not such a good idea. Their clothes are used to make them vulnerable when they have to pull their jackets down over their elbows.  There's a sense of desolation,  fear that help won't come in time. After all, no one even knows they're in trouble.

 

I did have to work to set aside the character of Hamilton Burger but was able to do so quickly since the scene was so engrossing.  I can't wait to see the movie!!

 

 .

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"On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair...". (The men are wearing jackets so there must be a chill in the air). "Up ahead in the distance..." they spot a hitch-hiker. Quiet sort of fellow until he pulls a gun, "what a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)". Also, we are led to believe he's killed before. So, here we are again with the makings of another 50's snapshot of paranoia, as in, "we are all just prisoners here, of our own device". I think Ida Lupino's hand will make it a more sustainable, (and viewable), film. And I respect the prominent role she played in film. But as in so many films noir, the story begins with that old proverb (of sorts), "you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!"

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The most obvious noir element displayed in this early scene from The Hitch-Hiker is the use of light and shadow, most dramatically displayed in the car's backseat. The stranger's face is hidden in the dark, adding a strain of mystery and danger, and the man's mystery is more boldly underlined as he lurches into the light.

 

There are clear similarities here between this film and Kiss Me Deadly, starting with the most obvious (a stranger hitching a ride on a dark, lonely street) and continuing with the cryptic--if not nefarious--backstories of the hitchhikers. With both, the level of suspense early in the film is dialed to 11, like a punch in the face, almost daring you to keep watching. And so you do.

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In typical noir fashion, The Hitch-Hiker exhibits themes of chaos, darkness, and the random nature of events. I mean, here are two regular guys out having some wholesome bro time when WHAM, they try to do a good deed and help out a stranded motorist and end up with Mr. CrayCray McFugitive in the back seat. Unlike other movies where bad stuff happens to folks for easily discernible reasons, films in the noir universe, such as this excellent one from (my favorite female director) Ida Lupino, have a point of view that bad things happen just because.

 

As for the lighting and staging of the scene, it all works together to create a superlatively menacing vibe. The way we only see William Talman's shadowy feet at first, then the back of him, and how the rear view mirror casts a shadow over his face until after he points the gun, even after he is in the back seat, really ratchets up the tension, notch by notch.

 

 

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-- What are some of the major themes and/or ideas introduced in the opening sequence of The Hitch-Hiker?

 

The hitch-hiker on the road, played by William Talman, is signifying impending menace and danger to anyone who crosses his path. (It’s awhile since I’ve seen this movie so I can’t remember what precedes this scene - whether he has already killed the driver of the car he’s standing next to.)

 

The “innocent bystanders”, played by Edmund O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy are two relatively ordinary people with relatively minor problems who are thrown instantly into someone else’s nightmare (Talman’s) by trying to help him out. At first, they have no sense of the impending terror they are about to experience.

The loss of control over one’s own life in such a sudden, intense manner could be one of the themes here. Then, as the one controlling the situation, there is the sociopathic loner, someone who will never hesitate to eliminate anyone standing in his way.

 

-- Discuss the role of lighting and staging in this scene, and how lighting and staging both work to reveal the underlying substance of film noir?

We first see the hitch-hiker’s feet and legs lit by the oncoming headlights, throwing him in deep shadow, standing by the side of the road and we can see the wind is blowing leaves and debris around his feet battering his feet and legs, creating an unsettling, unnerving, disruptive mood. He remains in deep shadow as he thumbs down the car and gets in.

 

The POV moves to the front seat when the stranger gets in the back seat. Only the two men in front are lit by the small dashboard light, which lights only on their faces. The rest is deep shadow. The night around them, as has been for this whole sequence, is a deep, dark, desert night. Nothing exists outside of what is lit by headlights, dash light, flashlight or trunk light.

 

The isolation of the desert, emphasized by the isolation of the limited lighting, heightens the feeling that these three men are the only three men in the world. There is also far more tension in this scene than there is action, with both hostages trying to assess the situation, figure out what their kidnapper is after as they seem to slowly absorb the extent of their danger. There are hints of action, such as when the trunk is opened and the rifle comes into view. But Talman quickly stops any attempts, making it very clear they wouldn’t even make it to the gun.

 

-- Compare and contrast the opening scenes of Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker? What is similar between the two? What is different? Why do these openings both work as excellent examples of how to open a film noir?

 

Both movies open with night scenes on highways. Both have one person (Talman, Leachman) encountering strangers (Meeker, O’Brien and Lovejoy) and forcing them to become involved in their plights. Both scenes are very tense and dramatic. Kiss Me Deadly is essentially a “rescue” scene, The Hitch-Hiker is a kidnap scene. Both openings work because they draw the audience in quickly through high drama, tension and immediacy created by the scenes intensity.

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-- What are some of the major themes and/or ideas introduced in the opening sequence of The Hitch-Hiker?

 

Major themes and /or ideas:

• Strangers can’t be trusted:  Picking up a stranded motorist can turn into a nightmare; offering a hitch-hiker a cigarette can be repaid with a gun pointed in your face.

• Danger and menace can emerge at any time into the lives of ordinary people.

• Guns can be used for innocent sport or turned to criminal purposes.

• Danger lurks in dark places until light brings it forth.

 

-- Discuss the role of lighting and staging in this scene, and how lighting and staging both work to reveal the underlying substance of film noir?

 

The scene begins with the feet of the hitch-hiker in very low-key lighting standing alongside an otherwise deserted, dark road.  A non-diagetic soundtrack from Leith Stevens sets an ominous tone right from the outset.  As the headlights of an oncoming car approach, an over-the-shoulder shot reveals the black silhouette of the hitch-hiker  on the left side of the frame, and his raised hand thumbing a ride moves across the image of the approaching car with Gil and Roy in the front seat.  After Gil and Roy establish that the hitch-hiker is out of gas and they offer him a ride, we see the disabled car on the left side of the frame as the hitch-hiker steps between the two vehicles and climbs into the back seat of the 1951 Plymouth Roy is driving.  There appears to be a spare water bag tied to the front bumper of the Plymouth.  The scene is lit from the right side by an unapparent source of light.

 

Initially Roy and Gil are speaking with a disembodied voice as the hitch-hiker is hidden in the darkness of the backseat.  It is not until 0:56 that the hitch-hiker’s face emerges from the black.  Actually, there is considerably more light and detail visible on the Kino Blu-ray than one can see on the Youtube clip.  The face of Emmett Meyers can be seen briefly as he climbs in to the back seat of the car, and during the ensuing initial conversation his outline can be seen in the middle of the frame between Roy and Gil with a faint light across about half of his mouth and chin.  Even so, the effect is still powerful when Emmett first points his revolver at Gil and then leans forward to bring his face into the light and begins to give orders.  The ominous and suspenseful soundtrack continues in the background.  In response to Gil’s question (“Do you want a cigarette?”), Emmett first raises his revolver into the light and then answers flatly “No.”  Gil has turned to face the back seat and can see the gun, but Roy cannot see the threatening gesture and continues driving normally.  There is dramatic irony when he innocently quips about the cigarette he has requested, “What are you doing, rolling it?”  Both Gil and the audience are aware of the menace that has just been introduced into the scene with the unveiling of the gun, but Roy has not yet seen it.  After a few seconds of silence, Roy glances back and the situation becomes clear to him before Emmett orders, “Face front.  And keep driving.”

The camera now assumes a perspective as if shot through the windshield of the car:  Roy is on the right side driving; Gil is in the passenger seat on the left side of the frame; Emmett appears between them in the back seat.  The light source appears to be coming from the dashboard, with light falling on the right side of Roy’s and Emmett’s faces and on the left side of Gil’s face.  After Emmett orders Roy to turn off at the next side road, the camera assumes a perspective as if shot through the rear window of the car.  The lighting on Roy and Gil is consistent with the previous shot, but Emmett’s head is lit slightly from his left side now.  There is also an inexplicable glow coming up from the floor of the rear seat that delineates Emmett’s silhouette.    (Perhaps it is from the flashlight that Emmett shines into the glove compartment a few minutes later.)  The eye of the viewer is drawn to the deserted landscape that becomes visible between the three men’s heads through the windshield in the headlights of the car.  This adds to the building anxiety about how isolated Roy and Gil are from any source of help.

 

The main threat in this scene comes from the potential for the use of guns.  First, Emmett’s revolver appears from the blackness of the back seat area into the light from the dashboard.  Then Emmett’s flashlight shone into the glove compartment reveals a box of Remington Kleanbore .22 cartridges.  It is not clear whether Roy and Gil have a .22 somewhere in the vehicle or what caliber Emmett’s revolver is,  but in any case Emmett takes possession of the cartridges.  Finally, the light in the trunk reveals Gil’s shotgun, which Emmett also takes.  This leaves Roy and Gil in the middle of nowhere being ordered around by a threatening man who holds all the firepower.  Danger is lurking in the dark until suddenly light brings it into view.

 

-- Compare and contrast the opening scenes of Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker? What is similar between the two? What is different? Why do these openings both work as excellent examples of how to open a film noir?

 

Both films involve a hitch-hiker being picked up on a dark highway.  In Kiss Me Deadly tough guy Mike Hammer picks up a frightened woman wearing only a trench coat.  She forces Mike to stop by standing in the middle of the road in an almost suicidal gesture for help.  Mike is in control driving his 1955 Jaguar roadster and does not seem threatened upon learning that the woman has escaped from an asylum.  If he felt threatened, he could have told the policemen at the roadblock, but he seems more interested in finding out more about the woman.  There is a potential for sexual tension in the air.  Mike has no compunction in lying to the police in order to keep driving.

 

In The Hitch-Hiker we have two average men driving along in a very un-fancy 1951 Plymouth sedan for a little getaway for the guys.  Roy and Gil respond in a normal, friendly way to a hitch-hiker thumbing a ride because his car has run out of gas.  They are also trying to help a person in apparent need, but their good deed results in their being carjacked at gunpoint.  The threat of physical violence hangs in the air.  A gun is the most immediate threat.

 

Both films introduce unexpected or unexplained threat into the lives of normal people.

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The opening scene in The Hitch-Hiker is similar in many ways to the opening in Kiss Me Deadly.  First off night-for-night shooting out on an open road.  Starting with a low level close-up shot of the hitchhiker's feet and cutting to a wide shot of a car's headlights coming out of total darkness.   In comparison to Kiss Me Deadly's opening with a close up of Cloris Leachman's feet running down a darkened highway eventually cutting to the lights of oncoming cars appearing out of the dark of night.   They both work as excellent examples of how to open a film noir as they put the audience in the role of a participating accomplice, right in the middle of the action without orienting us as to why we are here or what is taking place, thus making us ask ourselves all the pertinent questions.  The film makers are making you look for answers as you objectively observe the actions of the various characters in the story.  By doing so films noir has added a third dimension to the movie going experience by involving the audience, rather forcing the audience to participate to make sense or at least understand what the directors and writers were trying to convey through cinema storytelling. 

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"On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair...". (The men are wearing jackets so there must be a chill in the air). "Up ahead in the distance..." they spot a hitch-hiker. Quiet sort of fellow until he pulls a gun, "what a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)". Also, we are led to believe he's killed before. So, here we are again with the makings of another 50's snapshot of paranoia, as in, "we are all just prisoners here, of our own device". I think Ida Lupino's hand will make it a more sustainable, (and viewable), film. And I respect the prominent role she played in film. But as in so many films noir, the story begins with that old proverb (of sorts), "you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!"

Excellent!  I'm inspired to write a song about this opening scene!

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I'm also glad someone else thought of Hamilton Burger of Perry Mason fame when the hitchhiker leans forward into the light.  :)

 

I will say that after a while, the dark shadows and background are hard to see clearly.  As I watched the clip, I thought, thank goodness the faces are lighted.

 

Anyway, enjoying the course.

I too was only familiar with William Talman when he was a clever (or not so clever) attorney going up against Perry Mason.  I was very surprised to see him playing a heavy. But look out, he is BAD to the bone!

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What I want to know is why did the first car stop for the male hitchhiker, but it took a few cars to stop for the female hitchhiker in "Kiss Me Deadly"?  Is it because of a film like this where I grew up knowing that you don't pick up hitchhikers?

Maybe if William Talman had been barefoot and wearing only a trench-coat, O'Brien and Lovejoy would have kept on driving, I would have!  Or maybe they were just more trusting back then.  If Tarantino had made the film, O'Brien and Lovejoy would have stopped, beaten and robbed Talman. 

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At first I didn’t realize the hitchhiker was in the back seat.  I didn’t watch closely enough.  I just assumed he was sitting in the front.  When his face popped out of the back, you knew it was trouble.  Edmund O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy are moderately handsome, average looking men.  The fellow in the back has a skewed face (and, of course, a gun).  Two men picking up a third man next to a disabled car seems more reasonable than Ralph Meeker picking up an hysterical woman in the middle of the road.  Although in both instances, you would think the driver has control of the situation and is doing a good deed.  But then you know what they say:  No good deed goes unpunished.  I get the Kleenex in the glove compartment, but do men always carry .22 cartridges in there?  OK, once they open the trunk there is food, blankets, and a shotgun.  I guess they were going on a hunting trip.  Now, we see the hitchhiker has a right eye that is not as open as the left, something with the eyelid.  Like an onion the layers are being peeled back.  I’ll be watching “The Hitch-Hiker” for sure.  I have no idea what is going to happen, but I'm rooting for the good guys. :unsure:   

I too didn't notice that he was in the back seat.  It was terrifying when I realized it.  The use of the lighting (or lack of it) on his face was so well done and added to the tension of the scene.  Then when the driver pulls off the road, she (Lupino) uses the point-of-view angle and suddenly we are sucked in to the scene.  This movie looks really scary, and I'm looking forward to watching it.  I have three words for Ida Lupino: You go, girl!

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So many films noir open with the road—Detour, In a Lonely Place, Out of the Past, The Killers, Kiss Me Deadly, and of course, The Hitch-Hiker.  There are great variety in these openings, but each, it seems, is using the road as a sort of cue to the viewer that they're in a fatalistic world.  There is only one way for this story to resolve itself, and we, the viewers (the passengers), are compelled to experience that one road—that thread of fate, if you will—along with the characters.  When we are peering out from behind the hitch-hiker's (William Talman) head in this scene, that never feels more true.  It's as if these men are colliding with one another, brought together by forces outside of themselves.  I think of the great nonfiction novel In Cold Blood (1966), a true story of violence—and, one could argue, fate.

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The car is part of noir films, it can relate status, imply characteristics, but it is an essential part of the post war world, even more than before the War. Cars are a part of the consumerism of the era, larger and gaudier than before. Suddenly available, after the factories stopped making them during the all out home front effort of World War II. They would buy new cars every two to three years, keeping up with changing styles and with the neighbors.

 

Cars are also the way to travel. Within the city, from outside into the city and from city to city. It becomes it's own city, it's own universe all that takes part in the car. Here Roy and Gilbert meet up with killer Emmitt Myers, and we see the noir film in a claustrophobic manner. The light glow from the instrument panel lighting their faces, the harsh light on Emmitt matching his killer persona. All of the bodies close together in a small space.

 

The crime of noir can strike you anywhere, the city, your office, your house, your car. There is no where that you are safe from the anxieties of the world.   

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Ah, Ida Lupino! One of my heroes! She could act, and she could direct, as "The Hitch-Hiker" illustrates. Fabulous cast. Love the way that William Talman leans into the light, giving us a first glimpse of his menacing expression. Great pick! 

 

What stands out for me in these opening sequences of films noir is how we, the audience, are dropped headlong into a world of sight and sound that evokes mystery and suspense. We are confronted by the unknown. It follows the existential principle of angst and dread. We are quickly brought into the action, a situation we cannot control. One might think of the birth experience, and the discovery of the flow and means of life. We observe, and in some ways participate, by lending our attention and ideas to the unfolding story. We think about the characters and their choices. What would we do in their shoes? The visual presentation, locations and dialogue provide great insight into events as they develop and shift. The Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters understood that depicting movement entails light, and film noir filmmakers caught on to the artistry and physics of it. Everything happens in light and shadow.

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Like the opening scene from Kiss Me Deadly, this scene starts with a hitch-hiker getting picked up and takes place in a car. This scene from The Hitch-Hiker seems so desolate when it starts with the wind blowing the leaves and grass around the hitch-hiker's feet and gives me the feeling of them being in the middle of nowhere and of impending doom. When the hitch-hiker gets into the car, his face is kept in the shadows so we can only see the faces of the innocent men in the front seat and we don't see his face until he threatens them with the gun and moves into the light. At that point, all 3 faces are the only things that are lit in the car, until the hitch-hiker uses his flashlight. I think the lighting in this scene was very well done.

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The combination of open road and cars provides a clash of polarized symbols: the open road the very metaphor of freedom and the car an enclosed and confining space. And, of course, the symbolism of the road leading to somewhere, or as we've also seen, leaving somewhere behind. The road is freedom, but once you're in a car, you're trapped, no matter where that car goes. 

 

The tone between The Hitch-hiker and Kiss me Deadly are completely different. The latter is confusion and chaos, where the pervading tone is set by Christina's fear and panic. The former is menace and the breakdown of society, where evil forces (and we know from the first second that the hitch-hiker is bad news) lurk everywhere. The camera work in Kiss me Deadly is kanted, with quick cuts underlying the feeling of confusion and where the dominant sound is Christina's breathing. The camera work on the Hitch-hiker is focused on the killer, still and patient, focused on his feet. He is still and patient, waiting for his next victim. Same basic elements: feet and people trying to get a lift on a highway, but completely different treatments for completely different ends.

 

As for themes, I could probably write a few different papers on what the hitch-hiker symbolizes: the breakdown of society and its morals (tapping into the discussions on existentialism) or the paranoia that was already in film noir before McCarthyism (I'm sure it's no coincidence that the Hitch-hiker was co-written by a blacklisted writer). The beginning of the Hitch-hiker is shocking in its compact presentation of violence perpetrated on innocent people: it's presented in detached, factual and non-sentimental fashion. Then you spend the next hour trapped in the car with Roy and Gil, sharing their torment as you wonder when the bullet will come. It doesn't even let up at the end, you just know that none of that trio will ever be the same again.

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Detour. Dark Passage. The Hitch-Hiker. Kiss Me Deadly. Fate seems to lurk on highways. The road and destiny are concepts that are linked together, and blasted or darkened landscapes serve to add that final noir dread. The films would have a different vibe if our characters all caught rides at busy, well-lit intersections.

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In Kiss Me Deadly, Christina runs down the road in desperation wearing only a trench coat.

 

In The Hitch-Hiker, Myers wears a dark suit and stands patiently at the side of the road as wind kicks up the dust around him.

 

He confidently sticks out his thumb as Roy and Gilbert drive up. They assume he's out of gas as a car is next to him. It isn't long before the gun comes out as Gilbert is about to pass a cigarette to Roy.

 

Myers's face is hidden from view until he orders the two to keep driving and then his visage emerges into the light, demon-like.

 

We indeed feel like Myers is with us, giving us the orders and knowing our fate is sealed.

 

You think Roy could turn the tables on Myers, but he is way smarter than we think the minute he sees the rifle in the trunk.

 

Hopefully, Ida Lupino was also providing a public service to moviegoers to NEVER EVER EVER pick up hitchhikers. On I-94 heading north to Port Huron. Michigan, there is a sign that says PRISON AREA: DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS. That sign and my parents' warnings from youth have stayed with me.

 

Ironically, last night on The National on CBC there was a story about a hitch-hiking robot who successfully hitchhiked across Canada and now it is hoping to do the same in the US. I shall assume he is NOT like Myers.....

http://m.hitchbot.me/

post-36016-0-90681600-1436313890_thumb.jpg

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The combination of open road and cars provides a clash of polarized symbols: the open road the very metaphor of freedom and the car an enclosed and confining space. And, of course, the symbolism of the road leading to somewhere, or as we've also seen, leaving somewhere behind. The road is freedom, but once you're in a car, you're trapped, no matter where that car goes. 

 

The tone between The Hitch-hiker and Kiss me Deadly are completely different. The latter is confusion and chaos, where the pervading tone is set by Christina's fear and panic. The former is menace and the breakdown of society, where evil forces (and we know from the first second that the hitch-hiker is bad news) lurk everywhere. The camera work in Kiss me Deadly is kanted, with quick cuts underlying the feeling of confusion and where the dominant sound is Christina's breathing. The camera work on the Hitch-hiker is focused on the killer, still and patient, focused on his feet. He is still and patient, waiting for his next victim. Same basic elements: feet and people trying to get a lift on a highway, but completely different treatments for completely different ends.

 

As for themes, I could probably write a few different papers on what the hitch-hiker symbolizes: the breakdown of society and its morals (tapping into the discussions on existentialism) or the paranoia that was already in film noir before McCarthyism (I'm sure it's no coincidence that the Hitch-hiker was co-written by a blacklisted writer). The beginning of the Hitch-hiker is shocking in its compact presentation of violence perpetrated on innocent people: it's presented in detached, factual and non-sentimental fashion. Then you spend the next hour trapped in the car with Roy and Gil, sharing their torment as you wonder when the bullet will come. It doesn't even let up at the end, you just know that none of that trio will ever be the same again.

 

You're right!  It's been a few years since I saw the entire film but I remember eagerly getting into "the moment/mood" of the movie and by the time it ended, I felt exhausted!  You endure the total helplessness and torment experienced by the other characters.  It was an ordeal to watch.  

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The Hitch Hiker's beginning also shows us, just like Kiss me Deadly, a night piece in a road. But while in the film of Aldrich we see anguish and terror from the beginning, in a hectic atmosphere., In the film of Lupino only the foot motion on the side of the road, in a windy night denotes some type of restlessness.

Immediately we can suppose that it is a normal scene, somebody makes finger and a car stops. But, if we saw Detour we know that it is not always good to make finger and waking up somebody en route. The two men of the car that way understand it rapidly.

Illumination here is fabulous, we see the passenger about in semidarknesses, next her weapon, in a great foreground and finally her face, in broad daylight, that he shows cruelty, rudeness and a future for not at all friendly The same thing guarantee his words..

What seemed a quiet journey now will be a nightmare.

There is no doubt about it that we are in front of a director that knew what she made, and, no doubt about it, The Hitch – Hiker is a great example from the criminal story to style " noir ".

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Comparing these two scenes:

 

They both have high contrast lighting.  They are both hitchhikers being pick up in the night.  But they are very different in their treatment of the participants.  In the first Christina was lit up all in white and she was clearly in danger from the shadows.  In the second William Tallman's character was in the shadows even after he was picked up.  He was clearly "the danger" in the shadows.  In the first Mike Hammer was cynical and jaded and didn't want to pick up the hitchhiker eventually agreed.  In the second the guys in the car were just regular Joes who were willing to help a guy but eventually regretted it.

 

Both were very compelling and made you want to see what comes next.

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