“Side Effects” (2013) starring Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, & Catherine Zeta-Jones

One pill can change your life. -A tagline for the movie

Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) has just been reunited w/ her loving husband- Martin (Channing Tatum- at 33 y.o.)- who served a 4 yr. jail sentence for insider trading. However, the 28 y.o. graphic designer becomes V depressed (even attempting suicide by crashing her car into a wall). At the ER, Emily convinces the consulting psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), to release her instead of hospitalizing her for observation (as is commonly done). Emily explains that therapy was helpful for her in the past, and becomes his regular patient. Dr. Banks gives her some meds, BUT none of them are working for Emily. After conferring w/ her former psychiatrist, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Dr. Banks prescribes an experimental new medication- Ablixa.

Director Steven Soderbergh considered casting Lindsay Lohan for the role of Emily and he auditioned her 3x; however, producers felt that her ongoing legal issues would disrupt the production process. Blake Lively was originally cast as Emily, BUT the production company dropped out after learning of her casting; they returned after Mara took over the role. Law (then 41 y.o.) admitted that he felt insecure playing the lead role, as it was his 1st role as a husband/ father (as in real life), the 1st time using his real accent, w/ no hair/makeup changes. Soderbergh said that one of his biggest influences making the movie was the work of Adrian Lyne, esp. Fatal Attraction (1987).

If the character should be nude in the scene and it makes sense and I trust the person making the film, then I don’t see a problem with it. I certainly don’t want to be involved in anything that is gratuitous, but I don’t think the human body is something to be ashamed of. Every other person on the planet has the same parts as I do. So seeing them shouldn’t be a huge shock to most people. -Rooney Mara

The less you know about this movie, the more you will enjoy it. I learned about it from the most recent ep of Fatal Attractions podcast. As several critics have noted, Soderbergh (who also operates the camera) doesn’t stick to just one genre in his work. Here, the viewer thinks it will one type of movie, but then it takes a different turn after about 40 mins. The screenplay (by Scott Z. Burns) is V well-written. I wasn’t a fan of the lighting that was chosen for some scenes; the yellow/green tint doesn’t look appealing. The production design was well done; most of the interiors are apts and offices of modern-day NYC. The acting was strong, aside from some of the line readings/mannerisms of Zeta-Jones; she and Tatum have appeared in other of this director’s films. The supporting cast (incl. veterans of the NYC theater) add to the story. If you enjoy thrillers and don’t mind characters who operate in the “gray area,” check this out.

[1] There are surprises (one of them hinted at in the opening scene) and then further and further twists.

[2] The screenplay is incredibly well-written, creating characters that amaze us, disappoint us and deceive us all the while being a part of an interesting and complex story. […]

It’s more of an edge-of-your-mind thriller rather than an edge-of-your- seat thriller. Never really scared, always questioning the moral and psychological behaviour of these characters.

[3] For half of the movie, it is a persuasive indictment of the pharmaceutical industry and its crass behavior toward its patients; for the other half, it is a three- cornered mystery/thriller, with double crosses and framings galore.

-Excerpts from IMDb reviews

“The World, the Flesh, & the Devil” (1959) & “Z for Zachariah” (2015)

Introduction

Post-apocalyptic sci-fi is set in a world/civilization after nuclear war, plague, or some type of disaster. I found a V long list of movies (on IMDB); here are ones I’ve seen so far: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Children of Men (2006), Planet of the Apes (1968), The Matrix (1999), and The Handmaid’s Tale (1990). While dystopian fiction usually explores social or political struggle, society has NOT yet collapsed (BUT might be on the brink). In apocalyptic fiction, the focus is more on the characters or on man vs. nature.

The World, the Flesh, & the Devil (1959) starring Harry Belafonte, Inger Stevens, & Mel Ferrer

Ralph Burton (Harry Belafonte) is a miner trapped for several days after a cave-in somewhere in Pennsylvania. When he finally manages to dig himself out, it looks like civilization has been destroyed in a nuclear incident. He drives to NYC and finds it deserted. Making a life for himself in a luxury high-rise apt bldg, he’s shocked to eventually find another survivor, Sarah Crandall (Inger Stevens), a 21 y.o. blonde socialite. They start to rely on each other and form a close friendship. Some time later, they hear of another survivor who arrives via his small boat- Ben Thacker (Mel Ferrer). Ralph gives Ben an injection that saves his life; Sarah takes care of him while he recovers. In time, tensions start to rise as Ben and Ralph vie for Sarah.

Ben: I have nothing against negroes, Ralph.

Ralph: That’s white of you.

This unique/lesser-known movie showed up under recommendations on Amazon after I watched Z for Zachariah (see review below). The director here, Ranald McDougall, worked for Warner Bros. from 1944-50; he got an Oscar nom for his screenplay of the noir classic Mildred Pierce (1945) starring Joan Crawford. From the mid-’50s, he was primarily active in TV and worked on lower-budget films. Belafonte (who does sing a BIT here and looks gorgeous) was at the top of his career at this time. Though perhaps known more as a singer and civil rights activist, he acted in several V fine films and even had his own production company! So far, I’ve seen Belafonte in Carmen Jones (1954) w/ Dorothy Dandridge, Island in the Sun (1957)- which also contains a interracial love story, and the noir Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) w/ Robert Ryan.

The first 40 mins of the story is ALL about Ralph; we see a lonely (yet positive-minded) Belafonte navigate the empty/eerie streets of Manhattan. I hadn’t seen the acting of Stevens (a Swedish-American w/ a tragic life/early death) and Ferrer (Audrey Hepburn’s 1st husband; born to a Cuban father and American mother) before; they do fine in their roles. Race is a big issue here; a Black man and white woman wouldn’t be seen as equals or allowed be a romantic pair onscreen (in a segregated society). In one pivotal scene, we see the sexual frustration of both Ralph and Sarah as he gives her a haircut. Even on her birthday, Ralph doesn’t sit down to dinner w/ her, as Sarah wants, but provides the music and food. He acts like it’s OK when Ben and Sarah start to go out alone (on dates). The ending wasn’t quite what I expected, BUT it was intriguing! I think fans of classics will enjoy this movie.

[1] This movie will grab your interest and exercise your moral fiber. Race, prejudice and pride are but minor subplots in this excellent film. […] Black and white has never been so colorful.

[2] Belafonte is terrific especially in his early scenes and Miss Stevens registers quite strongly during their tense exchanges. Most of all, director Ranald MacDougall captures a barren, decimated-looking New York City to awesome, jaw-dropping effect.

[3] A very thought provoking movie that was not accepted at the time, but in retrospect, way way ahead of its time. In a racially charged world, it put forth the premise that race, in the final analysis, is superficial and meaningless. Once you strip away the layers of conditioning and socialization, you find, at the core, good and evil and the age old struggle as to which will prevail. A simple story, told directly and honestly.

-Excerpts from IMDb reviews

Z for Zachariah (2015) starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie, & Chris Pine

After the end of the world she thought she was alone. She was wrong. -A tagline for the movie

A woman in her early 20s, Ann Burden (Margot Robbie- an Aussie), lives w/ her dog (Faro) on a farm in the Appalachian Mtns, sheltered from radioactivity by rocky hills and a clean underground water supply. After about a year of being alone, Ann encounters John Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor- a Brit), a research engineer who (aided by meds and a HAZMAT-type suit) walked from a govt bunker to her valley. Unknowingly, John bathes in a contaminated waterfall, so quickly gets V sick! He is nursed back to health by Ann in her house; she is a Christian and prays to God to save him (thinking he’s a good man). John regains his strength and starts to improve their lives w/ his ideas/skills. They become friends and- eventually- think of pursuing a romantic relationship. Before that can happen, about 42 mins in, Faro runs ahead of Ann to another survivor- Caleb (Chris Pine- an American)!

This movie is based on the sci-fi book Z for Zachariah (1974) by Robert C. O’Brien; after his death, his wife and daughter crafted it into a YA novel. The “love triangle” was added in by the screenwriter (Nissar Modi- a Brit); only Ann (a 16 y.o. farm girl) and Loomis (a middle-aged engineer) are protagonists in the novel. The books has many convos btwn the characters re: religion vs. science, as a few readers have noted. The director (Craig Zobel- an American) recently gained some attention for HBO’s Mare of Easttown (starring Kate Winslet). Tobey Maguire (who served as a producer) and Amanda Seyfried were originally cast in the lead roles, BUT both had to drop out. The title recalls a children’s book that John takes off a shelf: A is for Adam. As some viewers noted, Zachariah is the prophet murdered between the temple and the altar (the last of the prophets killed) in The Bible.

This movie was shot on location in New Zealand; the main set was about 40 mi. from the nearest town. Zobel commented that it “felt like a Summer camp” working w/ his small cast and crew. He and the 3 actors had a week of rehearsal; they did some improv while shooting (as I learned from watching a few interviews from Sundance film fest). Ejiofor (now in his mid-40s) is an actor I’ve admired since seeing his debut role in the indie Dirty Pretty Things (2002). He can express a LOT w/ little (or no) words; he has large/expressive eyes and was classically-trained (as many British actors). After Ejiofor was cast, one line was added in re: race (one of the funny moments). Speaking of great eyes… Pine (now in his early 40s) does quite well w/ his role here; Caleb knows how to use his sex appeal/charm on Anne. Robbie does well also: she (now just 31 y.o.) achieved a LOT of success at an early age. I leaned that she just also started producing- V smart move. Check this movie out IF you’re looking for something thoughtful!

[1] Chiwetel Ejiofor gave a compelling performance. It was so real, I think the majority of us would understand what he’s going through. I was shocked by how outstanding Chris Pine was in this movie, just perfect. Margot Robbie was amazing as well, just a solid piece of acting by all.

It made for the perfect emotional love triangle. Even though only three people appear in this movie, it said so much about us as a society.

[2] This is probably the quietest and most understated post-apocalyptic movies you’ll ever see, but deep down, it is truly fascinating. With great performances, impressive directing and an intriguing plot, this film is massively engrossing and surprisingly simple to understand from start to finish.

…a fascinating study of humans in their most basic state: survival and animalistic desires, relating itself almost to Adam and Eve and biblical theory.

[3] Some films make you cry, some films make you laugh and some films just amaze you. Well, this one will make you think and digest information that you will see. Z for Zachariah may not be the most romantic film nor may it be an adventure, but hours after watching it, I was still thinking about what this film represents.

-Excepts from IMDb reviews

Cast interview with Rolling Stone
Cast and director interview with The Wrap

“Free Guy” (2021) & “The Lost City” (2022)

I just got past a V busy time at work; my team was under a LOT of pressure these past 6 wks! So, I decided to watch these newer/comedic movies. I didn’t have high expectations, so I wasn’t TOO disappointed. These movies already played in theaters; you can watch them on streaming now. Just don’t think too much and try to analyze entertainment like this- LOL!

Free Guy (2021) starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi, Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, & Utkarsh Ambudkar

Guy [saying his catchphrase]: Don’t have a good day, have a great day.

In the (fictional) popular video game, Free City, a NPC (non-playable character) named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) somehow breaks out of his programming and starts behaving differently from the other NPCs. (Gamers noted that this world has elements from Grand Theft Auto and Fortnite.) He eventually learns the true nature of his existence after he meets a human player, Millie AKA Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer). Guy’s best friend is a security guard, Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), who can’t see the game as Guy does. Key (Joe Keery) and Mouser (Utkarsh Ambudkar) are two programmers who work on user complaints at Soonami, the company that owns Free City. Antwan (Taika Waititi- in a rare bad role) is their boss.

The scenes in the real world are shot w/ anamorphic lenses, while the scenes in the game are shot w/ standard spherical lenses; the film is at 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Though the establishing shot of Free City is downtown Pittsburgh, the movie was largely filmed in Boston. In later scenes, when Antwan is standing in his office, the background is the Seattle skyline. The director, Shawn Levy, is perhaps more known as a producer; he worked recently on Stranger Things (Netflix). This movie was shot in 2018, BUT was delayed for some time.

Guy: Millie, how many times a day are the banks robbed in your world?

Molotov Girl: Hardly ever, Guy.

Guy: What about corpses, Millie? Do ya see a lot of those? How many an hour?

Molotov Girl: None per hour, Guy.

Guy: What about gun violence? See a lot of gun violence in your world?

Molotov Girl: Actually, that’s a big problem, Guy, it’s a massive problem.

This joke above is one of the few clever/funny parts of this movie, sorry to say. There are a LOT of cameos- voice and in-person! The two up-and-comers – Comer (one of the co-leads in The Last Duel) and Keery (best known as Steve on Stranger Things)- are doing as well as they can w/ the material; this was actually her 1st movie role. Reynolds is (as MANY critics/viewers commented) playing a version of himself; I haven’t seen a LOT of his movies yet, BUT he doesn’t impress me much. Reynolds (personally) asked Mariah Carey for the rights to use her iconic song- “Fantasy.” You can watch this movie on HBOMax.

[1] Free Guy (2021) feels as though it’s been made by people who have never actually played a video-game. […] …the fact that it lacks a proper sense of logic isn’t its biggest issue, although it is undeniably irritating that a movie which is supposed to celebrate video-games clearly doesn’t understand them and also partakes in the kind of banal ‘gamer’ stereotyping that perforates pretty much every piece of traditional media about the subject. No, the biggest issue is that, for me, it simply isn’t fun.

[2] Free Guy is worth going to see because it is one of the few quality films right now that increases one’s faith in human nature. Lately, I feel as though I have lost my faith in humanity, with all that is happening in the world, so it is refreshing to get a movie that feels confident in the human experience. Maybe I’m looking too deep into the message of Free Guy and maybe it was conceived just so Ryan Reynolds could screw around for two hours…

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

The Lost City (2022) starring Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, & Daniel Radcliffe

Reclusive author Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) writes about exotic places in her romance novels. The model for her hero- Dash- is named Alan (Channing Tatum); his look is based on Fabio. While on tour promoting her latest book- The Lost City of D– w/ Alan, Loretta gets kidnapped by an eccentric billionaire, Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), who hopes she can lead him to an ancient city’s lost treasure. Determined to prove he can be a hero in real life, Alan sets off to rescue her w/ the help of a former Navy Seal- Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt).

Loretta: Why are you so handsome?

Jack: My father was a weatherman.

This movie was shot on location in the Dominican Republic (during the pandemic); the scenery is gorgeous! Ryan Reynolds was originally sought for the lead male role, marking this a reunion w/ Bullock after The Proposal (2009), but a deal couldn’t be reached and Tatum was cast. IMO, Tatum is a better actor than Reynolds. The said the nude scene where Bullock pulls leaches off Tatum’s nude body was shot on the 2nd day of filming. They barely knew each other and he joked w/ her that they were about to get to know each other very well- LOL! They had to shoot it 50 times b/c Tatum kept laughing at the line: “They’re sucking on my butt like a Jamba Juice.” I liked their dance scene in the 3rd act, BUT I thought the romance was a BIT forced. These characters had more friend chemistry.

This movie needed more of Pitt (as MANY critics have said)! Bullock and Pitt became friends after they acted together in Bullet Train (2022). Pitt’s character- Jack Trainer- is a nod to the film that this is a loose remake of- Romancing the Stone (1984). In that film the male lead (played by Michael Douglas) was named Jack Colton; Mary Ellen Trainor (wife of director Robert Zemeckis) had a small role. The name of Loretta’s book tour is Romancing the Page– another callback to the 1984 movie. You can see this on Amazon Prime (Paramount+ Channel).

Loretta: How do they keep finding us?

Alan [pointing out her purple/sequined jumpsuit]: You’re basically a walking disco ball.

[1] Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum can play these characters in their sleep, and to their credit, they both seem engaged and willing to put forth the necessary effort. Tatum especially embraces the duality of a preening cover boy and the sensitive type out to prove he has substance.

[2] The Lost City has pieces that work and pieces that don’t. Placing pretenders into an actual adventure is good for laughs and heart, yet much of this script is generic. Unimaginative MacGuffins, flat villains, and predictable romances are individually forgivable, but together, they override the premise’s charm. Furthermore, the dialogue, humor, and plot devices are subpar.

[3] In the end, The Lost City is exactly what I think moviegoers need right now. Nothing too serious or weighed down by heavy drama. This is a good old-fashioned, silly comedy/romance that I feel works for what it is. It’s not going to be the type of comedy that a lot of people are going to watch over and over again, at least I don’t think, but the heart of the film is in the right place and it never takes anything too seriously.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Bull Durham” (1988) starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, & Tim Robbins

A Major League Love Story in a Minor League Town. -Tag line for the movie

It’s the start of the baseball season, and Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), for whom baseball is a “religion,” is in the process of choosing one player on the Durham Bulls (her home team in the Carolina League) who she’ll take under her wing. This player has always gone on to have the best year of his career. She has narrowed her choices to Ebby Calvin LaLoosh (Tim Robbins)- the young/undisciplined pitcher- and veteran catcher- Crash Davis (Kevin Costner)- brought in to improve Ebby’s game. Ebby is V eager to “hook-up” w/ Annie when she offers, BUT Crash takes himself out of the running (b/c he doesn’t see “matters of the heart” as a game). It’s obvious that Annie and Crash are attracted to each other. First thing, Annie gives Ebby a nickname- Nuke- which helps boost his confidence. Thus begins Annie, Crash and Nuke’s complicated relationship!

Annie: Right, honey, let’s get down to it. How was Ebby Calvin LaLoosh?

Millie [younger friend/fellow baseball groupie]: Well, he f***s like he pitches – sorta all over the place.

The writer/director, Ron Shelton, was a former minor league baseball player; he played 5 seasons in the Baltimore Orioles farm system. The highest level Shelton reached was w/ the Rochester Red Wings in the Triple-A International League. Kurt Russell helped Shelton develop the script and was slated for to play Crash. After the film was made, Russell was so impressed, he wrote fan letters to Costner and Shelton! Orion Pictures gave Shelton a mere $9M budget (w/ cast members accepting lower salaries than usual b/c of the strong material), an 8-wk shooting schedule, and creative freedom. The film’s box-office success caused Hollywood to produce several more baseball-centered movies over the next few yrs. Though it is meant to be set over a hot/humid Summer, Bull Durham was actually filmed on location in North Carolina in October and November of 1987. The grass had to be touched up w/ green paint and the breath of the actors can be seen in many night scenes.

Crash [giving advice to Nuke during a game]: Relax, all right? Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.

Producer Thom Mount (part owner of the real Durham Bulls) hired Pete Bock (former semi-pro baseball player) as a consultant. Bock recruited minor-league players, ran a tryout camp (to recruit an additional 40-50 players), hired several minor-league umpires and conducted two-a-day workouts/practice games w/ Robbins pitching and Costner catching. Bock made sure the actors looked/acted like ballplayers and that the real players acted convincingly in front of the cameras. Shelton decided to cast Costner b/c of the actor’s natural athleticism. The actor was a former HS baseball player and hit 2 home runs (while the cameras were rolling). According to Shelton, Costner insisted “on throwing runners out even when they [the cameras] weren’t rolling.” The actor is also “a switch hitter” (Crash is shown hitting both left and right-handed).

Annie [in voiceover re: Nuke]: The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self awareness.

There are many LOL (or V amusing) moments in this movie. The cute/funny dance scene w/ Nuke and several actresses in the bar was choreographed by Paula Abdul. On my re-watch, I noticed that Annie’s first dress (black top, wide red belt, & black/white checkered skirt) is V similar to the one worn by dancer/actress Vera Allen in White Christmas. As Karina Longworth explained, the R-rating comes more from the profane language rather than the love scenes (NOT daring by today’s standards). These elements are rare for a mainstream/Hollywood film: Annie and Millie are never “slut-shamed” (as they go after what they want); the ballplayers (young/fit) are objectified perhaps more than the women.

This near pitch perfect movie (pun intended) has great dialogue and sparkling chemistry btwn its 3 co-leads. Now, you don’t have to be a fan of baseball or even Costner (who I don’t think has much range) to enjoy this movie. After I saw Costner opposite Sean Young in No Way Out (1987), I thought maybe he has some appeal. The role of Crash suits Costner (33 y.o.) V well; I’m assuming his acting is improved b/c he gets so many great lines. Jeff Bridges turned down the lead, BUT I think he’d have done a fine job. Costner plays well off both Sarandon (confident/mature at 42 y.o.) and Robbins (enthusiastic/boyish at just 30 y.o.) In their different ways, Annie and Crash both serve as mentors to Nuke (who has potential to go to “the big show”- major league). This is where Sarandon and Robbins first met and fell in love. I was surprised that I got a bit emotional in a scene (near the end)!

[1] This film is not only a great sports film, but it is one of the great all around films I have ever seen. This film has it all from romance to comedy to witty dialogue. Susan Sarandon, Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins all brought Ron Shelton’s script to life and the three of them displayed some of the greatest chemistry ever captured on film. This film is a timeless classic.

[2] It is nice to see a movie that attracts more than one kind of audience. This is a comedy, then again a love story. This can be placed in the baseball genre, as well as a coming of age drama. Most movies claim to be one or the other and sometimes fail to be. Then again, when a good movie hits a home run it can not only become a money maker and a box office smash, it can also become timeless. Before they became giants of Hollywood, Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins stars in this great movie as some of the most interesting, yet simple characters. […] Together, the three introduce three different worlds upon the audience. Each are believable characters even though they are in a way, fantasy like. A great story with a perfect ending, Bull Durham is one of those hard to find movies that is a crowd pleaser with just about every audience out there.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“The Hitch-Hiker” (1953) directed by Ida Lupino

When was the last time you invited death into your car? -A tag line for the film

Two friends, Roy Collins (Edmond O’Brien- who has appeared in several noir films) and Gilbert Bowen (Frank Lovejoy- the more conventionally handsome of the pair), on their way to Mexico for a fishing trip, pick-up a stranded motorist, Emmett Myers (William Talman- the prosecutor on Perry Mason) who turns turns out to be psychopath/escaped convict. Myers has a facial deformity which prevents one of his eyes from ever closing- creepy! He has murdered other good Samaritans; he taunts/threatens the two pals, getting joy from holding them hostage w/ his gun. Myers’s destination is a ferryboat in Baja, CA. Collins and Bowen hope to stay alive long enough to escape or maybe get rescued by Mexican cops.

Emmett Myers: You guys are soft. You know what makes you that way? You’re up to your neck in IOU’s. You’re suckers! You’re scared to get out on your own. You’ve always had it good, so you’re soft. Well, not me! Nobody ever gave me anything, so I don’t owe nobody!

The Hitch-Hiker is the ONLY film noir of the classic era directed by a woman- Ida Lupino! She was born/raised in England, then came over to the US as a teenager in the ’30s. At Warner Bros. (where she was contracted), Lupino often played characters much older than her years (b/c she had the maturity and talent). As a V slim/petite ingenue, she had her hair colored platinum. In the late ’40s, Lupino (inspired by Italian neo-realist directors, incl. Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini) decided to take on a new role; she and her writer/producer husband (Collier Young) may’ve been the first to coin the phrase “the filmmakers.” While Lupino was directing, she always wore pants, explaining that they were more suited to the work than skirts/dresses. Her production company wasn’t afraid of controversial topics or centering stories of females: Not Wanted deals w/ a teenager’s unwanted pregnancy, Never Fear is centered on a dancer who has polio, and Outrage considers what happens after a woman survives rape.

Ida Lupino is the most talented and versatile woman in the history of movies. -Eddie Muller, TCM host

This tense/atmospheric movie is available in the public domain; the run time is at 71 mins. It is based on an incident that happened in California in the early ’50s. At this time in the US, hitch-hiking wasn’t that uncommon. A man named Billy Cook murdered a family of 5, incl. 3 children, then killed a traveling salesman. He kidnapped 2 hunting buddies (James Burke and Forest Dameron) and took them across the border into Mexico, intending to kill them, too. However, Cook was captured by Mexican police and extradited to the US. Lupino somehow met Dameron at an event in Palm Springs, FL, and felt this story would make a compelling movie. She also met w/ Cook while he was on death row in San Quentin- wow!

Talman recalled an incident that happened shortly after the release of The Hitch-Hiker. He was driving his convertible in LA w/ the top down, and he stopped at a red light. Another driver in a convertible stopped next to him stared at him for a few seconds, then asked: “You’re the hitchhiker, right?” Talman nodded. The other driver got out of his car, slapped Tallman across the face, then drove off. Talman said: “You know, I never won an Academy Award, but I guess that was about as close as I ever will come to one.”

[1] This flawlessly acted and directed thriller sustains a uniquely tense atmosphere from start to finish, and this without reverting to explicit violence or dreadful clichés. 

[2] We’ve seen many similar plots over the years, but I thought this was a fresh and unpredictable. Lupino’s direction really suits the material, the tension builds throughout, and Talman is unforgettable.

[3] This is a low budget, black and white suspense thriller that has more tension in it than a dozen recent movies. The low budget works in its favour, with tight camera angles making for a claustrophobic viewing experience. Actress Ida Lupino certainly knows what she’s doing behind the camera, as she rarely puts a foot wrong here: the pacing is exact and the performances are excellent.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews