Join the Boston Public Library and Barry Marshall, Senior Affiliated Faculty member in the Visual and Media Arts Department at Emerson College, for an online film discussion about The Hitch-Hiker (1953), available on BPL's Kanopy https://boston.kanopy.com/prod.. People are encouraged to view the film prior to attending so that the conversation may be active.
This program will happen over Zoom. A link will be emailed to you.
Born in London in 1918, Lupino came from a theatrical family with ancestry all the way back to 16th century Italy. Her Father Stanley was a theater and film actor and playwright, and her sister Rita was an actress who was even in some of Ida’s films. Ida strted acting in films at the age of 14 in 1932. She was in 26 films in 1930s before a breakout role (also with Humphrey Bogart) in They Drive by Night led Warner Brothers to offer her a seven year contract. The first film under her new contract was High Sierra, and she received top billing for the first time, and this was the last film wherein Humphrey Bogart did not receive top billing.
Lupino often clashed with studio head Jack Warner during her contract at the studio, thinking that the roles she was offered were Bette Davis and Joan Crawford rejects. She also started rewriting her roles. She left the studio when her contract was up.
Ida Lupino was a movie star in the classic era of Hollywood in the 40s and 50s. By 1948, she had become a screenwriter, producer and director and founded (with her husband, producer Collier Young) one of the early independent production companies, The Filmakers. During this period, when no other females were directing studio features, Lupino was putting her personal aesthetic slant on “Social Problem” films by mixing in the darkness and grit of what later became known as “Film Noir”. Her films dealt with taboo subject matter for the late 40s and early 50s, like rape, bigamy, and unmarried pregnancy.
She kept working as an actress while directing, often using her acting fees to help financing her directing and producing work. She also became adept at low budget filming techniques and was an early user of product placement. She directed 6 features for The Filmakers, which lasted through 1955, and Lupino went on to a prolific television directing career from the late 50s through the 60s. She directed episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, Thriller, The Untouchables, Bewitched and even Gilligan’s Island! She kept acting through the 1970s, and directed a final feature film, The Trouble with Angels in 1966.
This series will look at her films as a Hollywood Star and groundbreaking career as a film director, screenwriter and producer.
The Hitch-Hiker 1953
Directed by Ida Lupino
Unlike her social problem films, The Hitch-Hiker was a seminal Film Noir picture with an all-male cast. She was able to create suspense and tension in this movie that rivals nearly any of the better-known directors. She creates stunning compositions, uses intense editing during both action scenes and during interminable waiting, and even vistas of rough terrain that reflect the existential dread of the characters better than any dialog could. Lupino also creates one of the most memorable villains of Film Noir in Talman’s menacing yet quirky hitch-hiker, who torments both the working class and the white collar guy who are demasculated for much of the story.
Screenplay by Collier Young and Ida Lupino
Produced by Collier Young
Young had been a production executive at Columbia Pictures, when he married Ida Lupino and left Columbia to start and independent production company with Lupino, The Filmakers.
Lovejoy specialized in playing “everday Joes”, who sometimes are cops or military guys, as in In a Lonely Place, or who end up in extraordinary circumstances and are flummoxed by them, as here and in Try and Get Me.
He appeared in over 100 movies, many of which are classics. He was often a character actor in Film Noir films, but also played harrowing parts in films like D.O.A, Seven Days in May (for which he got an Oscar Nomination), and Lupino’s The Bigamist. He even was in Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind, which was released on Netflix in 2018!
Talman, who here played one of the creepiest “bad guys” ever filmed, was best known for playing the District Attorney on the Perry Mason TV show, for nine years, during which he lost all but three cases! He made the first anti-smoking commercial while he had lung cancer, which he died from at the age of 53.
Barry Marshall is a Senior Affiliated Faculty member in the Visual and Media Arts Department at Emerson College, teaching classes in Film and Media History as well as Copyright. He has had an extensive career as well as a musician and record producer, and has produced and written songs for several films and television shows. He also curates and presents film programs at the Boston Public Library.