30 avril 1953. Une histoire d’autostoppeur prenant en otage deux touristes américains à l’air d’être sacrément cauchemardesque. Le passant cinéphile se laisse tenter par ce The Hitch-Hiker. D’autant qu’il s’agit là du premier film noir réalisé par une femme. Et quelle femme ! Ida Lupino !
Critique d’époque :
« One of the less likely dangers of travel in the motorized twentieth century is given vigorous, if grim treatment, in The Hitch-Hiker, which rolled into the Holiday yesterday. An unrelenting but superficial study of abnormal psychology coupled with standard chase melodrama, it moves swiftly to an obvious conclusion. For this story of a callous killer and the two innocent vacationers he uses on a wild flight from justice through Mexico, builds its tension slowly and carefully but is incapable of maintaining it throughout.
Although Collier Young and Ida Lupino, who wrote the script of their independent production, avoid unnecessary dialogue and preambles to action, it is only a temporary suspense they create. For it is only a matter of time before a viewer settles back merely to await the manner of the law’s triumph. However, Miss Lupino’s brisk direction and the solid portrayals by the three principals overcome, to a large degree, the film’s cops-versus-killer format.
The Hitch-Hiker, its foreword makes plain, may be fiction but « its facts are actual ». As such, it realistically follows the trail of a wanton gunman, who thumbs rides and then kills and robs his benefactors until he runs into a couple of Californians en route to a fisherman’s vacation in Mexico. As prisoners of this crafty fugitive, the pair are forced to spend several harrowing days and nights literally in his gun sight until he is apprehended.
The ruses leading to his capture, it might be added, are not overly heroic and make the dénouement acceptable. And, in selecting the rocky, dusty Mexican wasteland as a setting, the producers have added a graphic inflection to the helplessness of the victims. William Talman, as the ruthless murderer, make the most of one of the year’s juiciest assignments. He is a braggart, who taunts his captives, mocks their softness and proclaims that « you can get anything at the end of a gun ». However, the attempt to explain his warped criminal behavior as being the result of parental hatred and a trick of nature that left one of his eyes heavy-lidded and grotesque, is a mite too pat.
Both Edmond O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy are experts as stalwart men gripped in a situation they never made. Although he is a normally brave citizen, Edmond O’Brien is human enough to break down in frustration over his seemingly impossible position. And Frank Lovejoy’s fortitude under this sort of duress appears logical, too. They may be trapped into a terrifying trip but their terrors become less frightening along the way ». Par A.W. pour le New York Times.
A.W. n’a pas apprécié The Hitch-Hiker. Une psychologie de comptoir, une intrigue sans suspense viennent plomber une réalisation efficace et une interprétation de qualité. C’est dur, très dur. Ida Lupino est une très bonne réalisatrice en plus d’être une très grande actrice (The Bigamist).
J’ai personnellement adoré. Ma critique par ici.