Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947)

As the last treat of their great film noir series, the Finnish Broadcasting Association showed a Felix E. Feist double bill: first his best-known film, Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947) and then his lesser-seen atomic bomb thriller, The Threat (1949). I'd never seen both (and realized only afterwards that Donovan's Brain I've seen over a decade ago was directed by the same Feist) and I was very intrigued especially about the aforementioned film.

It's a very solid B-thriller about Lawrence Tierney, a ruthless killer who hitchhikes his way away from the cops and ends up in the car of an amiable young guy, who's driving back to see his fiancée. Two women down on their luck and life ride along with them. That's basically the plot - more tension comes out of whether anyone else realizes that Tierney is a sociopath and a killer. Seemingly not, and here lies the main problem with the film: you'd think Tierney would rather kill anyone than watch those jerks ruin his getaway trip. Well, maybe it's the neo-noir buff in me that's talking, but I thought the film lacked plausibility in this matter. Otherwise Tierney makes a great villain and the film moved along in a breakneck pace. This is based on a novel by Bob Du Soe - how come the novel's not in print? (The cover of the late fourties paperback reprint from Avon seen above.)

The Threat wasn't as good as Devil Thumbs a Ride, but interesting nevertheless in its story about a criminals waiting for the getaway plane at the atomic bomb test site. Charles McGraw is good as the head criminal wanting revenge on those who put him in jail.


George said...

Love the cover! They sure don't paint them like that anymore!

Todd Mason said...

Seems like the devil's levitating quite well without needing to hitchhike, though...