Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

The Devil Thumbs a Ride

The Devil Thumbs a Ride - poster final 2Cinema Monolith: 7/10 This film is part of the Cinema Monolith collection!
IMDb: 6.9/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: **½ out of 4

Released on February 20, 1947
Not rated
62 minutes

Directed by Felix E. Feist

Written by Felix E. Feist, from the novel by Robert C. DuSoe

Cast: Lawrence Tierney, Ted North, Nan Leslie, Betty Lawford, Andrew Tombes, Harry Shannon, Glen Vernon, Marian Carr, William Gould, Josephine Whittell, Chuck Hamilton, Lee Phelps

He’ll kill until he dies! Tough-guy actor Lawrence Tierney, one of film and television’s most certifiable whack jobs, once again plays a quietly-psychotic killer in this RKO film noir cheapie, written and directed with verve by Felix E. Feist, who seemed to have a decent grasp on the noir style, and a good ear for natural dialogue.

Tierney is cold-hearted ex-con Steve Morgan, a ‘slap-happy bird with a gun’ who robs and kills a theater owner outside a bank in San Diego, hitches a ride with a happy-go-lucky schmo heading north to LA, then invites two party girls along for the ride during a stop at a filling station, all the while involving the trio deeper and deeper into his own escape plans. Soon the four of them are holed up at a beach house in Newport, where everything begins to unravel for everyone involved.

A very entertaining 62 minutes, with an energetic pace that never seemed to let up; around every turn was an unpredictable twist or change of events that pushed the narrative forward, and there was enough brutality and smart-mouthing from Tierney to make any fan of his films giddy. The guy really seemed to have a screw loose—on screen and off—and even though he apparently disliked taking bad guy roles, he truly had some screen presence when he did: Dillinger, Born to Kill, and The Hoodlum are some prime examples of his most sociopathic work.

Feist made good use of Tierney and supplied the film with a handful of acceptable noir elements, but what I got a kick out of most was the banter and interplay between the cops, which had a casual and realistic ring to it (except for the few typically naive lapses in common sense when it came to police procedure). Unfortunately, the film’s short running time also resulted in an ending that unfolded too fast, paving the way for a pair of quick codas that were pure cheese, and shone too cheerful a light on the noir-themed darkness that had preceded them.  (7/10)

Devil Thumbs a Ride - photo mailbox final

4 comments on “The Devil Thumbs a Ride

  1. Todd this was great. I scored it the same and had much fun with it. Dude I never knew Lawrence Tierney was so dastardly. He really played the psycho horribly perfect. Every manipulating sentence what came out of his mouth was filled with venom as he tries twisting his path out of situations. You see actors play bad but Tierney really had a feel of pure unadulterated danger. He has to be up there as one of the most fierce characters I’ve come cross.

    Thanks for the recommend bro. A perfect hour run time on a work night. The banter and chat was first class. Takes a few curve balls too. Dillinger next and then off to find Hoodlum.

    PS is it just me or did he have a slight Ben Affleck look to him.


    • Todd B

      Hey Mikey, glad you liked it, and thanks for checking it out! Yeah, Tierney is one rotten SOB…but you can’t take your eyes off him. I need to check out both The Hoodlum and Bodyguard…and I didn’t remember him in San Quentin, but now I see he was in a different San Quentin (not the Bogart one), so I’ll have to track that one down, too.

      Yeah, I can see some Affleck in him, especially when he was young and slim! So I guess Ben now knows what he’ll look like when he turns 80! And I see you just reviewed this one as well, so I’ll go check it out right now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha that’s brilliant. Hehe Ben now knows what he will look like at 80. So true lol. Yeah looks like I’m on a LT trip now. I got Dillinger but see Hoodlum and one called Kill Or Be Killed (he might be a goodie shock horror?) Those two are on YT and I see Bodyguard is on that great Russian site. San Quentin has been added to the list too. It does look like it was in LT’s contract, “I aint doing a film over 66 mins in length or I’m gonna give you a bunch of fives right in the kisser you hear!”


      • Todd B

        Ha, that’d be a great title for a post-modern noir: A Bunch of Fives. And I took a look at Kill or Be Killed on IMDb, and it seems interesting, so I’ll give it a look (and yes, an okay copy is on YouTube). Still have those others you mentioned on my list as well…looks like I’ll be having an LT week, too. Or should I say, a ‘Bunch of Fives’ week!


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