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Podcast on The Hitch Hiker

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Enjoyed the podcast on The Hitch Hiker. Most interesting was the discussion concerning the director Ida Lupino. I remember watching the TV series Have Gun Will Travel. For you young people, this was a western TV series from 1957 to 1963. Paladin, the protagonist was based in San Francisco in an expensive hotel. He would get a telegram of someone that needed help and would change from his elegant clothes of 1880 to a western gun slinger. Back to Ida Lupino, I have always tried to visualized the role of the director and I recall that I could tell when Ida Lupino was the director for the episode. In the podcast on The Hitch Hiker, it was mentioned that Lupino was very good on the details. That must be what I saw while watching Have Gun Will Travel. I'm an engineer and the details are important.

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Another off-topic post:  Sirius XM 94 (Radio Classics) occasionally plays radio episodes of Have Gun, Will Travel as well as episodes of Gunsmoke in addition to a number of noir-ish radio serials.  (Note:  I do not work nor do I benefit financially from mentioning Sirius XM.  Just a big fan of satellite radio!)

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Week 7: Out of the Past: Edwards’s and Clute’s Podcast for The Hitch-Hiker

 

I posted this on the Video Lecture #5 thread, but I'm adding it here, too. Thanks for starting this discussion thread.

 

          The podcast and one of the assigned readings, the excerpt from Postwar Hollywood: 1946–1962, by Drew Casper, touched on the theme of changing social mores for men and the crisis of masculinity during the postwar era. Edmond O’Brien’s character in The Hitch-Hiker, Roy Collins, was edgy and emotional. At one point, he pleads for a small plane to stop for them, to hear them. When his friend Gilbert Bowen (played by Frank Lovejoy) moves toward him, Emmet Myers, the hostage taker, says something like this: “Leave him alone. Can’t you see he’s praying? [my emphasis].” Collins also gives in to an angry outburst directed against Myers, the hostage taker. The dynamic between Collins and his friend, the other hostage, really intrigued me. They seemed to be a study in contrasts, but Bowen gives in to an emotional moment, too, although one of a different sort, one that is more subdued. When the three of them—Collins, Bowen, and Myers—are in a store in Mexico, Bowen hugs a young child, one he doesn’t even know, as though he wishes he could protect her. It was a very touching moment in a bleak film. In fact, both characters—as hostages—seemed much more likeable and human in their emotional moments. They may be feeling uncertain and fearful, but they are reaching out to others.

          Emmet Myers, the hitch-hiker, spoke some of the most interesting lines, like the comment above about Roy Collins praying when he was pleading for the small plane to stop for him and Bowen. If I remember correctly, Myers also makes a snide comment about Bowen and Collins using their fishing trip as a pretext for going to Mexico to visit women, either mistresses or prostitutes. I wondered how he would know that kind of detail, but if the character is based on real-life observations from people who were hostages of the actual hitch-hiker, then I suspect that the real-life man (Billy Cook) had plenty of opportunity in his short life to witness the bad behavior of the adults around him. (He was 23 when he was executed for his crimes.) His one eye that didn’t close all the way was either a prenatal defect or the result of an accident or childhood abuse. He became a ward of the state after his mother died and his father abandoned him and his siblings (I think he was only five years old). It’s hard to imagine that his life was easy, although none of the details of his life absolves him of his actions.

          I’ll have to see The Hitch-Hiker again in light of the podcast and the assigned readings. I have a greater appreciation for this film now than I did before. Not only has this course provided me with a long list of movies to see and books to read, it is also giving me plenty of reason to revisit films with new ideas and insights.

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