Presented by the Melbourne Cinémathèque
22–28 Nov 2021
Set against an extraordinary Californian desert backdrop, a serial killer takes two men hostage, drawing them into a thrilling cat and mouse game.
Initially relegated to B-Movie status, this chilling masterwork of noir has since been re-appraised for Ida Lupino’s masterful control of her predominantly male cast. Stunningly shot by noir royalty Nicholas Musuraca and co-written by Lupino and her ex-husband Collier Young, the film presents one of the most tense, early examinations of masculinity under threat. Produced through Lupino and Young’s own The Filmakers Inc, but distributed through RKO, The Hitch-Hiker is both a landmark of independent cinema and a landmark of film noir, and represents the earliest mainstream entry in the genre to be directed by a woman. With Edmond O’Brien.
The Hitch-Hiker screens with another independent production, Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor (Dave Fleischer, 1936). Directed by Dave for his and brother Max’s Fleischer Studios, this landmark animated short features the celebrated Popeye battling the Sinbad of Middle Eastern folklore. This short is arguably the best of the original theatrical Popeye cartoons, and is notable both for its early use of lush three-dimensional settings, and for being over twice as long as most other contemporaneous cartoons.
– Jacob Agius, Melbourne Cinémathèque, committee member