Monday, November 7, 2011

You Never Know What You'll Encounter On That Dusty Road

Playing out as a strange dream gone horribly wrong, this cult film noir movie plays all the right notes. A man recounts his endless string of bad luck, events that occur in haunted flashbacks that to him seem more of a general haze than anything else. He was once a musician, now he's your average bum, playing gigs for very little and struggling to get bye. Despite heading towards California and his girl, he discovers as he lays it down straight to us, the viewer, why you never hitchhike.

Even though this movie's low budget limitations show through, the dialogue is still tense and tough, the film's bleak and mysterious atmosphere rather strong. Since the poor loser who is the film's protagonist has very little idea of why any of this is happening to him, neither does the viewer, and its fascinating to sit back and watch as he encounters both an odd stranger and then later you standard female fatale.

Most of the film is also remarkable for setting film noir standard cliches, or at least being one of the earlier most famous film noirs to help pave the way for others. Even though Out of Past, a much better film noir came out two years later, this picture is a good one in its own right. Interestingly enough it also helped inspire some better movies decades later, as I'm fairly sure that David Lynch borrowed from this movie for his underrated and excellent Lost Highway.

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