Two army buddies (O’Brien and Lovejoy) leave their wives to go on a fishing trip along the Baja peninsula. Along the way, they pick up a lone hitch-hiker who happens to be infamous serial killer Emmett Myers (Talman), wanted for murder in nine states. Myers forces them at gunpoint to drive across the desert into Mexico. As time passes, he keeps his hostages in agonizing suspense as to their ultimate fate. Will these men somehow survive this ordeal?
Reputedly the only film noir directed by a woman, this chilling survival tale owes much to Lupino’s inspired work behind the camera. Not only did she step in to direct when the original director fell ill, she also co-wrote the screenplay with then husband Collier Young. Screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring (“Out of the Past”) also did uncredited touch-ups to the hard-boiled dialogue. Lupino’s choice to film on location in the dusty, barren desert adds authenticity, while the beautiful black and white cinematography accentuates the prevailing mood of dread. Talman would go on to fame in the television show “Perry Mason”, but his riveting performance here as the psychotic killer cements “The Hitch-hiker” as a film noir classic.