Another murderous noir with Lawrence Tierney. This review is for perfectly named The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947)
What’s going down?
With an unflinching brutal murder of a bank clerk in San Diego in like five seconds of the film starting. It’s safe to say Steve Morgan (Lawrence Tierney) is a dangerous and twisted man. He calmly thumbs for a lift and attracts the attention of the kindhearted, slightly sozzled traveling salesmen, Jimmy ‘Fergie’ Ferguson (Ted North). With the need for fuel they stop at a gas station. Soon suspicion is raised in Steve Morgan’s dodgy manner and a police manhunt is set up with roadblocks across the state lines. Soon two become four with the addition of two hitchhiking ladies. The stakes are high and now the chase is on.
The main players
Lawrence Tierney – Steve Morgan
Ted North – Jimmy “Fergie” Ferguson
Nan Leslie – Carol Demming
Betty Lawford – Agnes Smith
Andrew Tombes – Night Watchman
Harry Shannon – Detective Owens
Glen Vernon – Gas Station Attendant
Marian Carr – Diane Ferguson
Tagline – NOT EVEN HER KISSES COULD HALT HIS FURY…when his evil brain cried “KILL!”
Sure I’ve seen them in something?
Shamefully I only clocked who Lawrence Tierney was from watching Born To Kill (1947) last week. Wow the guy certainly has a presence about him. I’ll admit that apart from him I didn’t really recognise anyone in this production. However having a little dig on IMDB how could I not of remembered Miss Marian Carr? She’d played sexy Friday in the incredible Robert Aldrich adaptation of the Mickey Spillane cult classic Kiss Me Deadly (1955). Plus I’m also sure I’ve seen the booze loving nightwatchman, Andrew Tombes pop up in something before?
Notes on production?
The Devil Thumbs A Ride is directed by Felix E Feist and an adaption of a novel by Robert C. DuSoe. Whereas I don’t know any of Felix’s films there has been a few that I’d added to my “must watch one day” list without realizing who the director was. The great sounding sci-fi chiller Donovan’s Brain (1953) and The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950) which has to be an essential watch with having Lee J Cobb as the leading man.
Hits like a sledge hammer
Lawrence Tierney is so dastardly. He really played the psycho, worryingly, horribly perfect. Every manipulating sentence that comes out of his mouth is filled with so much venom as he tries twisting his pathway out of situations. You see actors play bad but Tierney really has a feel of pure unadulterated danger. He has to be up there as one of the most fierce characters I’ve come cross. Maybe it’s the fact he has the rugged good looks of a leading man but then that evil smirk comes through. His whole demeanor just exposes this fierce sociopath who will do anything for his own gain.
He takes pleasure in dropping some cutting remarks and a fired off vicious slap makes you almost feel it through the screen. And if your cherished kid happens to have big ears then be ready to be hurt!
“From the look of those ears she’s gonna be able to fly before she can walk!”
“Keep the change, buy something nice for your kid”…. “Yeah a parachute!”
Coming in with a run-time of just one hour, The Devil Thumbs A Ride is a roller coaster of a film. It doesn’t sit for a minute as it rushes across the screen from scene to scene. All the cast are good in their roles but lets be honest here it’s really the Lawrence Tierney show from start to finish. And it’s fascinating to watch just how far his evil will take him. I scored it a 7/10 but LT alone would of made it a strong 8 if the film had slowed down the end a touch. Plus a few unbelievable situations, I guess for comic relief, like having the young Gas Station Attendant join the chase with the old Detective Owens was a tad cheesy. Saying that, it all added to the excitement of where was this thriller taking us? Of course with that short run-time it doesn’t take long to find out. The Devil Thumbs A Ride can be watched here.
Wolfman’s rating 7/10 IMDB 6.9/10
Feel free to recommend me related movies and any other trivia if you wish. Keep having fun at the movies…. Mikey Wolf