Not by any means a great film, The Devil Thumbs a Ride nonetheless has an indefinable audience allure that sucks the viewer into its labyrinthine storyline and doesn't let go until the fade-out. Lawrence Tierney plays Steve Morgan, a charming but utterly sociopathic criminal who has just robbed and killed a movie theater cashier. Morgan hitches a ride with inebriated conventioneer Jimmy Furguson (Ted North). Later on, Furguson picks up two more hitchhikers: virginal Beulah Zorn (Nan Leslie) and good-time girl Agnes Smith (Betty Lawford). When circumstances lead Jimmy to believe that Steve is the fugitive whom the cops are looking for, Morgan sweet-talks his way into everyone's confidence. Before he knows what's happening, Jimmy is holed up in a beach house while Steve parties with Beulah and Agnes. Not even the most fervent of film noir fans will be able to predict the outcome of this one. Long ignored by movie buffs, The Devil Thumbs a Ride gained a large following through repeated TV showings in the 1960s and '70s. It is now considered so representative of its genre that one film historian used the film's title for a collection of his essays on B-melodramas.
by Hal Erickson synopsis