The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947) Ruthless Sociopath Hitchhiker In Manhunt Noir

The Devil Thumbs A Ride (1947) Lawrence Tierney film noir thriller hitch hiker drama

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 Devil Thumbs A Ride (1947) Lawrence Tierney film noir thriller Ted North hitch hikers

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?

The Devil Thumbs A Ride (1947) Lawrence Tierney film noir thriller cigarettes smoking mirror image

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!

The Devil Thumbs A Ride (1947) Lawrence Tierney film noir thriller drama close up face dark shadows


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.

Big thanks to Todd over at Cinema Monolith for the recommend. Check his review of here.

The Devil Thumbs A Ride (1947) Lawrence Tierney film noir thriller drama criminal police mug shot

Rating score

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

14 thoughts on “The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947) Ruthless Sociopath Hitchhiker In Manhunt Noir

  1. I Just saw this one not long ago. I love Lawrence Tierney Tough guy on and off screen marked by booze, cigarettes, drugs, and rough relationship with women. I have to see more of his earlier films. Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks dude. I’m just discovering his work. Always a great joy when you come across an actor you don’t know and find a whole series of great works to see. He’s certainly unique with his bad boy persona!


  2. Well, you’ve got me interested. Lawrence Tierney is a delightful bad boy, though that was not his intention, of course– the “delightful” part anyway. I say that because you can tell that he is enjoying himself while, at the same time, he takes himself a tad bit too serious. That’s a rare combo. He really relishes that smirk you write about. If you haven’t already, read the Wikipedia page on Tierney. Whoa! He was so great as Elaine’s dad on Seinfeld and as “Mr. Big” (not the character’s name) in Reservoir Dogs. He was a far cry from his young, fiendishly handsome self in those though. He looked more like the Thing in them.
    Love your site, Mikey. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wiki – New York Times critic David Kehr observed that “the hulking Tierney was not so much an actor as a frightening force of nature”
      The whole “Off-screen troubles” section is bonkers. He sounded like a right handful to say the least!
      Yeah the Seinfeld episode story is bonkers.
      I think it’s the fact he has that handsome leading man look back then that really throws you a curve ball with his nasty. Yeah old age and lashings of booze with do that to your old youthful good looks. Just ask Mrs Wolf lol.
      Thanks as always Pam for the great comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not the greatest film noir but with that sweet run-time it’s perfect for a work night and what with LT’s ruthlessness at full tilt he fills the screen with shocks and thrills…. Hope you get to see it. There’s a link to it in the post if you didn’t notice. Cheers G-Man

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I certainly am. I’m gonna get to Dillinger soon. I hit Reservoir Dogs with a re-visit early on this year introducing it to the kids. Went down a treat. Yep I never knew who he was so it’s been great stumbling on such a character. The big joy of doing this film blog. I’m always learning and I love it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As you and I have already discussed, some good stuff here, with Tierney doing what he did best. And I really liked Felix Feist’s work in this…I saw he did another noir called ‘The Threat’ (starring Charles McGraw!), so I’m going to try and find that one on-line. And I did like ‘Donovan’s Brain’ as well. And if I remember right, this was the film that had the town I was living in when I first saw it (Escondido, California) listed in either a bus station or a police station, I can’t recall which.

    And as always, thanks for the shout-out and linkage!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That “The Threat” with Charles McGraw sounds like a right gooden. Nice nod there Todd, cheers. Love that title of “Donovan’s Brain” I’m gonna have to see it even if it’s just to see what the blue blazes is going on with Donovan’s noodle!
      Love that your home town (at the time) popped up in the film.


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