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

The Way Ahead (1944) WWII Blogathon. Propaganda From The Pen Of Peter Ustinov Released on D-Day

The Way Ahead (1944) David Niven carol reed ww2 film poster

There I was enjoying The Way Ahead when the film lands in Algeria with our cast poised ready to join the fighting in North Africa. Raging in the distance, not too far away, is the flash and sounds of heavy gun fire. Fierce battles are taking place as the Allies smash horns with the infamous Rommel and his Afrika Korps. Ordered to wait out the fighting until needed, these British infantry men sit anxiously with the Algerian locals. Waiting inside a small cafe they entertained themselves with songs and darts. Standing grumpy, not at all happy with this invasion on his nice quiet business is a Frenchman called Rispoli. Now I’m looking at him rather baffled. I was convinced he looked like a young Peter Ustinov. And of course it was. He’s quite an unique looking fellow, even in his youth. When the film finished I couldn’t wait to read about his involvement in The Way Ahead and found out a whole lot more. Continue reading

The Small Back Room (1949) WW2 Bomb Disposal, Alcoholism, PTSD, Love And Kathleen Byron

The Small Back Room (1949) Michael Powell Emeric Pressburger David Farrar movie poster

Double excited about finding The Small Back Room after I’d just finished watching the incredibly intense 70s series Danger UXB. Excited and intrigued to add this World War Two bomb disposal drama to my movie night. The other exciting news for me was the chance to see yet another film from the The Archers production company.  Continue reading

They Made Me a Fugitive (1947) British Film Noir With Trevor Howard And His Trusty Milk Bottle

They Made Me a Fugitive (1947) I Became a Criminal trevor howard british film noir poster

The backroom of the London high street Valhalla Undertaking Company was filled with darkness. The walls and floor space taken up by stacks of wooden coffins. Stood in the bleak setting were a bunch of shifty looking cockney geezers. Gangsters. Rough looking thugs with thick necks, cauliflower ears and busted up flat noses. In amongst those brutish frames you had the usual crafty looking types. Weasel looking type. Sly and creepy. Ready to shank you in the back for a few bob or maybe just for the fun of it. You also had the loyal sidekicks in the mix. Eager to crack skulls with brass knuckle dusters. An older, mother figure organised as she kept an eye on the business. As long as a little extra came her way she was happy. Continue reading

The First of the Few (1942) The Spitfire Story With Leslie Howard And Lady Houston

Spitfire (1942) Lesie Howard David Niven poster artwork ww2

The First of the Few, to be later known as Spitfire, is a biopic of Reginald Joseph Mitchell. The aeronautical engineer and designer of that iconic flying machine, the Supermarine Spitfire. Directed and produced by Leslie Howard who plonks himself in the lead role of RJ Mitchell. Unfortunately to no fault of his own, The First of the Few would become poor Leslie’s final film. But before we go into that, what’s this film all about? Continue reading

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) Well I Thought It Was But It Wasn’t Really

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) The Criterion Collection Blu-ray artwork DVD

There I was in my teenage years lying on the back room sofa all alone drifting in and out of consciousness. Not only had I caught glandular fever but the doctor, in his wisdom, had prescripted the wrong antibiotics. The mix up had caused my whole body to breakout in a rash. It looked like scarlet fever and I was beside myself! In between the crazy itching and bouts of fever sweats I’d become drowsy from all the medication.  I was hallucinating. There I was making my way up the Stairway to Heaven! Continue reading