Family men Roy Collins (Edmond O’Brien) and Gilbert Bowen (Frank Lovejoy) set out on a fishing trip, but a hitch-hiker turns their holiday into a nightmare.
Ida Lupino went down in history as the only woman to direct a film noir when she made this wilderness thriller, which was developed from a news story by Daniel Mainwaring (who was denied a credit by RKO president Howard Hughes because of his political radicalism).
Making the desert seem every bit as threatening as the urban jungle, Lupino draws a performance of crackling malevolence from William Talman, as the serial killer physically and mentally scarred by his abusive childhood.
Equally authentic is the impotent terror of weekend fishermen O’Brien and Lovejoy, the hostages ordered to make for Mexico and uncertain when Talman’s slender thread will snap.
Jean Del Val