Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         


THE DEVIL THUMBS A RIDE. RKO Radio Pictures, 1947. Lawrence Tierney, Ted North, Nan Leslie, Betty Lawford , Andrew Tombes, Harry Shannon, Glen Vernon, Marian Carr, William Gould. Screenwriter-director: Felix E. Feist, based on a novel by Robert C. Du Soe.

   You don’t watch the crime film, The Devil Thumbs a Ride, for the rather formulaic plot about an outlaw on the run. No, you watch for it for the noir atmosphere, set as it is in the late 1940s on one shadowy and violent Southern California night.

   Most of all, you watch it for Lawrence Tierney. He portrays Steve Morgan, an inveterate liar, a forger, and a murderer.

   Directed by Felix Feist, The Devil Thumbs a Ride is a taut thriller, economical on time, but rich in black humor, cynicism, and suspense. Replete with believable, punchy dialogue, the film tells the story of the diabolical Morgan, who after killing a cashier in San Diego, hitches a ride with Jimmy Ferguson (Ted North), a traveling salesman from Los Angeles who was in town for a drunken birthday celebration. The two men end up also giving a lift to two women they encounter in a gas station parking lot and off they go.

   There’s murder, mayhem, and madness a plenty. Look for the close up shots of Tierney’s eyes. It’s not fancy camera work by any means, but they tell you all you need to know about who’s the charming devil in this one. Tierney was one of a kind, no doubt about it.