Zoom Salon of The Hitch-Hiker (1953) 71 min | Mechanics' Institute

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Zoom Salon of The Hitch-Hiker (1953) 71 min
October 2020: Women of Noir

CinemaLit Popcorn Pop-Up Salon: October-- Women of Noir

Hello Film Lovers,

Welcome back to CinemaLit! We have missed our Friday night gatherings. Laura, Pam, and I are excited to launch this new format for CinemaLit as we Shelter at Home. We will be viewing films on Kanopy and gathering online for a Popcorn Pop-Up Salon!

All you will need is either a Mechanics' Institute library card, or a San Francisco Public Library card, which will give you access to Kanopy and its treasure trove of movies. Make a reservation as usual via Eventbrite and watch the film on Kanopy at your leisure. You will receive a link to the Friday night CinemaLit salon on Zoom two days in advance. On the night of the salon click the Zoom link and join us.

If you do not receive a Zoom Link by the day of the event, contact Pam Troy at [email protected]


Mechanics’ Institute members can now sign up for FREE access to Kanopy, a wonderful film streaming service. To sign up:

1. Click on  THIS LINK.

2. Click on the large orange login button that reads, “Log in to milibrary.”

3. Enter the 14-digit bar code from your MI Library card

4. Set up your account following Kanopy’s instructions, including your email and a password.

5. Kanopy will send verification to your email address.

You’ll be able to choose from a wonderful selection of films, including classics, pre-code, foreign films, and documentaries, including the films we’ve scheduled this month for CinemaLit.

If you are not a Mechanics’ Institute member, consider membership and click  HERE  to join online:

Or, you can check with your public library to see if they are Kanopy members. If so, you may use your public library card to set up a Kanopy account.

 Matthew Kennedy, curator and host

CinemaLit Film Series

October 2020: Women of Noir

For October, we return to a longtime CinemaLit favorite – film noir. Our focus is on women in noir, in front of and behind the camera. Three films feature women as the dominant story-driving character – Woman on the Run (1950) starring Ann Sheridan, Sudden Fear (1952) starring a well-served Joan Crawford, and The Naked Kiss (1964) starring a way over-the-top Constance Towers. As an added bonus, two films this month, Woman on the Run and Sudden Fear, offer dazzling footage of their mid-century San Francisco locations. Two other films feature Ida Lupino directing. Lupino was a brilliant actress, as well as one of the very few women who had directorial responsibilities in American films of the 1950s. In The Hitch-Hiker (1953), Lupino artfully locates film noir in a remote desert setting more redolent of Westerns. In The Bigamist (1953), Lupino both directs and stars. Joan Fontaine and Edmond O'Brien are the two other points of what the title accurately suggests is a love triangle. For The Naked Kiss, we are delighted to welcome back CinemaLit emeritus curator and host Michael Fox as emcee.

October 16 - The Hitch-Hiker (1953) directed by Ida Lupino

Ida Lupino was born in London in 1918, the daughter of show business parents. She made her name as a Warner Bros. movie star in the 1940s, her delicate beauty belying a penchant for playing tough in films such as They Drive by Night and The Hard Way. Lupino's trailblazing career as director happened almost by accident. She and husband Collier Young formed the production company The Filmakers (yes, one "m") in 1949. She was writing and producing the company's first movie, Not Wanted, when the director suffered a heart attack. She stepped into his role and completed the film uncredited. She then directed five more films for the company over the next five years.

The Filmakers was dedicated to socially relevant material, tackling subjects such as rape, polio, and adultery. For The Hitch-Hiker, Lupino took on the true story of Billy Cook, a young drifter who murdered six people traveling through the American Southwest. The movie set-up is simple: Two buddies (Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy) are on a road trip to Mexico to go fishing, with maybe a little philandering on the side. Along the way, they pick up a hitchhiker (a perfectly vile William Talman) stranded in the middle of the desert. Big mistake!

Lupino's directing is a revelation. It was rare enough for a woman to direct an American drama, much less one so psychologically harrowing. How was she going to handle this unsavory study of pathological masculinity? As virtually the only woman directing in Hollywood at the time, she said, "You don't tell a man, you suggest to him. 'Let's try something crazy here – that is, if it's comfortable for you, love.'" Assisted by stalwart craftsmen from the distributing studio RKO, Lupino maximizes nail-biting suspense in every scene. The Hitch-Hiker is not only a triumph for Lupino as director, it's now securely established as an unusually effective and skillfully made low-budget crime classic. In recognition of its historical, cultural, and aesthetic importance, The Hitch-Hiker was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1998.

Matthew Kennedy, CinemaLit’s curator, has written biographies of Marie Dressler, Joan Blondell, and Edmund Goulding. His book Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s, was the basis of a film series on Turner Classic Movies. 

I don't have a favorite film,” Matthew says. "I find that my relationships to films, actors, genres, and directors change as I change over the years. Some don't hold up. Some look more profound, as though I've caught up with their artistry. I feel that way about Garbo, Cary Grant, director John Cassavetes, and others."

Classic films have historical context, something only time can provide,” Matt observes. “They become these great cultural artifacts, so revealing of tastes, attitudes, and assumptions.”

Register with Eventbrite below.

If the green TICKET button is not immediately visible, scroll down on the right in the Eventbrite window until it appears


CinemaLit Films

Members Free
Public Sliding Scale Free to $10
Register now ›
4th Floor Meeting Room
Pam Troy - 415-393-0116
Register now by using the form below or calling .

Future CinemaLit Films

Oct 23 - 6:00pm

Zoom Salon of The Bigamist (1953) 80 min
October 2020: Women of Noir

Oct 30 - 6:00pm

Zoom Salon of The Naked Kiss (1964) 90 min
October 2020: Women of Noir

Nov 6 - 6:00pm

Zoom Salon - Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) 71 min
November 2020: Comic Relief

Nov 13 - 6:00pm

Zoom Salon - The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1943) 99 min
November 2020: Comic Relief

Nov 20 - 6:00pm

Zoom Salon - Ball of Fire (1941) 111 min
November 2020: Comic Relief

Dec 4 - 6:00pm

Zoom Salon - Charade (1963) 113 min
December 2020: CinemaLit Season Finale