Retrospektive 2018

The Devil Thumbs a Ride

Felix E. Feist
USA 1947
63 min

The setup is simple: alone on a long road trip home at night, a naive young salesman gives a ride to a hitchhiker whom the audience has just seen kill a man in a hold-up. The salesman lets the hitchhiker manipulate him into picking up two young women and bringing them to an unoccupied beach house the salesman knows about. The suspense comes from wondering how far into amorality and violence the hitchhiker—and also the film—will go; this turns out to be rather far. The director, Felix E. Feist, makes good use of his sparse materials. Like Edgar G. Ulmer’s DETOUR, this is a film that takes place largely in a car and a room and that is thoroughly immersed in the fleeting and nocturnal sociality of the American road. THE DEVIL THUMBS A RIDE is dominated by Lawrence Tierney, with his unreadable, handsome sourness and his flat, relentless intonation of a continuous stream of orders, insinuations, and rationales that—in the nightmare state of mind that the film imposes on its characters and on the viewer—seem just barely plausible enough to make everyone bend mindlessly to his will. (Chris Fujiwara)


  • Lawrence Tierney
  • Ted North
  • Nan Leslie
  • Betty Lawford
  • Andrew Tombes
  • Harry Shannon
  • Glen Vernon
  • Felix E. Feist based on the novel by Robert C. DuSoe
  • J. Roy Hunt
  • Roy Webb
  • Paul Sawtell
RKO Pictures
35 mm
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