Noir series "Going South" finds dark stories under sunny skies
Much lesser-known are two other films by actors behind the camera. Ida Lupino's The Hitch-Hiker finds two average American Joes on a Baja fishing trip kidnapped by a serial-murdering psycho who forces them deep into desolate foreign terrain. It's the keen eye of locals rather than our desperate heroes' resourcefulness that might ultimately save them from the maniac's itchy trigger finger. Spare, tense and realistic, it's contrasted by Robert Montgomery's 1947 Ride the Pink Horse, a sort of noir-fever-dream spin on Under the Volcano (1984) in which the director stars as a war-veteran tough guy unraveling from sleep deprivation and general dislocation on a revenge mission in a fictitious border town. Full of phony ethnic exoticism and stereotypes, it nonetheless offers hope of salvation solely from kindly Spanish-speaking locals, notably a teenage girl (pigtailed Wanda Hendrix) who can see his imminent death in our gruff hero's eyes.
"Go on, beat it. Scrambo!" he barks at her — a good line to be sure, though none can beat Out of the Past's (false, it turns out) koan "A dame with a rod is like a guy with a knitting needle."
GOING SOUTH: AMERICAN NOIR IN MEXICO
July 1–29, $5.50–$9.50
Pacific Film Archive
2575 Bancroft, Berk.