The Hitchhiker is a film noir movie made by the low budget production company RKO Radio Pictures. The Hitchhiker is based on true events so it could even happen to you! At least that’s what we’re told in the opening sequence. The Hitchhiker is about two young men who pick up a psychotic murderer disguised as a hitchhiker. When RKO Radio Pictures makes a film noir movie, they make it a real film noir. I say this because when it comes to making a film noir you want to show the rough, gritty, darker side of life. When you have a low budget you can’t afford fancy equipment or big set with expensive effects.
You are made to work with what you have and in turn the movie has a look that’s more real. The sets are real and the story is simple, to the point that you keep watching as with the Hitchhiker.
The Hitchhiker consists of three men trying to survive while the police continually get closer to their trail. The patience of each of the men grows shorter and shorter as the stress builds up and the complications get worse and occur more often.
With the lower budget equipment, the look of the film is not a shiny Hollywood movie but looks at times like documentary footage. To achieve these “special” moments, the cinematographer takes the camera off its tripod and onto his shoulder, giving it a documentary or cinema verite look.
It would have been nice to see more of these shots, to help give it a special look for when it was made, but that will come in about seven years later.
The actual screen size of this film is smaller than your standard movie which gives it a look that you are watching it in the theater or your watching old achieved footage.
Ida Lupino, the first film noir director, helped make this film different than the other film noir movies. She was also the only female director of her time who directed 30 more films and TV show episodes until the late 60’s. She definitely showed a good eye for directing actors, choosing locations (the isolated desert) and telling a gripping story.
There is no use of subtitles in the scenes where a foreign language is being spoken. The interesting part is that you don’t even need them since you know what’s going on with the visual clues.
It makes you feel like you are actually there and you don’t even have a translator. It’s a nice little touch whether on purpose or because of forgetfulness. It was nice to see some different like that.
The Hitchhiker is definitely for those film noir or crime movie fans. It was made with a clear picture in mind of what a film noir should look like, achieving that goal with great success.
The director took advantage of what they had to go around what they didn’t have. If you have never seen a film noir, this would be a good place to start.