Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 29th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1977
Director: Pasquale Festa Campanile
Writers: Aldo Crudo, Aldo Crudo, Pasquale Festa Campanile
Cast: Franco Nero, Corinne Cléry, David Hess, Joshua Sinclair, Carlo Puri
BluRay Released: February 16th, 2016
Approximate running time: 104 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Raro Video USA
Region Encoding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: An unhappy couple go on a road trip in hopes of saving their deteriorating marriage. Along the way they pick up psychopath who recently robbed a bank. From there the psychopath uses the couple as his leverage to get out of the country and into Mexico. Will he let them go once they have completed their end of the bargain or was their fate already sealed the moment he entered their lives?
Hitch Hike was directed by Pasquale Festa Campanile, whose other notable films as a director include The Libertine and The Slave. He also worked extensively as a screenwriter and some of his notable screenwriter credits include The Assassin and The Leopard. Key collaborators on Hitch Hike include, screenwriter Ottavio Jemma (The Senator Likes Women), cinematographers Franco Di Giacomo (The Most Beautiful Wife, Four Flies on Grey Velvet) and Giuseppe Ruzzolini (Short Night of Glass Dolls) and composer Ennio Morricone.
What starts off as a melodrama about a marriage that is disintegrating slowly transforms into the road trip to hell, when a third character a hitchhiker is thrown into the mix. And though the addition of a third wheel often proves to be a disruptive force. This is not the case here as the hitchhiker characters is not discriminate when he dished out his hostility. If anything his appearance forces the couple to put their own differences aside and for known join forces until they can break away from the man who now holds their lives in their hands.
The narrative is straight forward as it follows the troubled couple on their aforementioned road trip. And in regards to building tension the film does a superb by letting each moment of conflict have just the right amount of time to resonate before moving on to the next moment of conflict. And when it comes to the three main characters they’re well defined and their motivations are clear?
Though a large portion of the film takes place in claustrophobic environments like a car. This does not mean that this film is lacking when it comes to its visuals. In fact, it is the exact opposite as the film does a remarkable job exploiting its surrounds for maximum effect. Visually this film most memorable moment is the scene where the hitchhiker rapes the wife and makes her husband watch. Another strength of this film is way the score reinforces the mood of film.
Without a doubt this film’s greatest asset is the extraordinary performances from its three leads. Up first is Franco Nero in the role of an alcoholic journalist named Walter Mancini. Followed by Corinne Cléry (The Story of O) in the role of Eve Mancini. And rounding out this trio is David Hess (The Last House on the Left) in the role of a psychotic bank robber named Adam Konitz. Overall Hitch Hike is a perfect example of Italian cinema turning nothing into something that far exceeds its meager resources.
Hitch Hike comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. When compared to previous releases this release is just a slight improvement with the biggest improvement being in regards to colors and image clarity. Also there are no issues with compression. Unfortunately, this transfer like previous transfer is not without its short comings. With the most glaring of these short comings being that the image has that all too familiar look that has plagued many Italian films that have made their way to Blu-Ray.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD Mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD Mono mix in English. The audio tracks fare much better than the transfer. Both audio mixes are in great shape as they both exhibit strong range and depth, especially when it comes to Ennio Morricone’s score. Also dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include a documentary titled ‘Road to Ruin’ (26 minutes 29 seconds, in Italian and with English subtitles) with comments from actors Franco Nero, David Hess, actress Corinne Cléry and assistant director Neri Parenti.
Topics discussed in the documentary include: Pasquale Festa Campanile a versatility as a filmmaker who worked in just about every genre, Franco Nero at this time in his career he was at the peak of popularity as an actor and he reveals why he got involved in making this film, how the film was shot in Italy and how they made it look like the USA by making signs and other landmarks like an authentic gas station to make it look ore American the surroundings, how a previous film collaboration 21 Hours at Munich with Franco Nero lead to David Hess being cast for this film and Actors performing their own stunt work and how Franco broke Hess’s nose.
Rounding out the extras is an eight-page booklet with cast & crew information and an essay about the film written by Bret Wood. Overall Hitch Hike gets a strong release from Raro Video.
Note: This film is also being released by Raro Video USA on DVD.