Death of Hitch-Hikers

drama, crime

Typology

feature

Czech title

Smrt stopařek

Runtime

83

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1979

Production year

1979

Premiere

05.10.1979

Language version

Czech

Director

Jindřich Polák

Screenplay

Vojtěch Měšťan, Jindřich Polák

Screenstory

Vojtěch Měšťan, Jindřich Polák

Summary

After his war drama relating the story of Czechoslovak pilots operating in England Nebeští jezdci (Riders of the Sky, 1968), director Jindřich Polák almost gave up filming dramatic features for mature audiences. For as the “normalisation” era set in, he and screenwriter Ota Hofman were tasked with creating a series of family-oriented co-productions (chiefly a series about a magical man in a bowler hat, Pan Tau, or “Mr. Tau”). From 1969-1979, only three weightier exceptions came along: a psychological crime story Noc klavíristy (Piano Player’s Night, 1976), the sci-fi comedy Zítra vstanu a opařím se čajem (I’ll Get Up and Scald Myself with Tea Tomorrow, 1977) and the crime thriller Smrt stopařek (Death of Hitch-Hikers, 1979). The screenplay for this film was written by Vojtěch Měšťan, who previously collaborated with Polák on Piano Player’s Night – a stylish, intimate crime story of a bar musician investigating the murder of a young man. But with Death of Hitch-Hikers, instead of a likeable and moral private eye, the anti-hero of this story, based on a true story, is the murderer himself. Habitual criminal Charvát is fresh out of jail. He works as a truck driver, but remains obsessed with raping and strangling young hitch-hikers. Luck is on the serial killer’s side: even his divorced landlady Jarošová, whose son Míša the killer befriends, is completely in the dark. But in the end, the murderer is betrayed by a stolen watch and his deformed finger leaving an unmistakable mark on the necks of his victims… Death of Hitch-Hikers proved very popular in its day – crime stories were scarce, and Polák offered viewers a well-crafted thriller. The cast also contributes to the film’s gripping atmosphere, particularly Polish actor Marek Perepeczko in the lead role, who helped enable Czech filmmakers to set aside existing on-screen stereotypes. Jaroslava Obermaierová offers a strong performance as the landlady, as does Zdeněk Buchvaldek as the investigator.

Synopsis

Submissiveness saves the life of waitress Klímová, who has hitched a ride in an old lorry driven by rapist Charvát, recently released from prison. The man takes her to the woods and rapes her. Charvát carefully conceals his past from the young divorced owner of the house where he is renting a room. He even makes friends with her little son Míša. The boy takes to him as a father figure and when Charvát talks to strangers, he speaks about Míša as his own son. A night ride, when Charvát secretly uses the company car to transport furniture to his customers' cottage, ends tragically. Charvát offers a ride to two girls who have missed the last train. He drives them into the woods and while one of the girls goes off into the bushes, he drives further into the woods and rapes and strangles her friend. Then he strangles the witness to his crime as well. He takes the bodies of the two girls to a remote waste dump and burns their belongings at home in the heating boiler. Everything seems to be playing into the hands of the murderer. The witness who finds the bodies, but is unable to identify the make of the vehicle dies of a heart attack. Moreover, the company assigns a new lorry to Charvát. But there are fingerprints with a missing thumb on the throats of the two girls - Charvát's hand was disfigured when he was in prison. The investigators also find additional clues. At home, Míša finds a gold watch belonging to one of the victims. His mother comes to understand that Charvát is a wanted criminal. The police close in on the house. The murderer holds Míša hostage and tries to escape to the border. The police have no choice but to shoot Charvát and Míša is saved.

Film online

Cast

Marek Perepeczko

řidič náklaďáku Charvát

Zdeněk Buchvaldek

vyšetřovatel kapitán VB Kameník

Jana Válková

servírka Eva Klímová

Jaroslava Obermaierová

prodavačka Petra Jarošová, Charvátova bytná

Dagmar Patrasová

stopařka Marta Vaňková

Jana Nagyová

stopařka Eva Černá

Jana Gýrová

MUDr. Věra Říhová, Kameníkova přítelkyně

Lída Plachá

Bendová, matka Jarošové

Zdeněk Martínek

bývalý správce polesí Hošek

Karel Heřmánek

kriminalista podpraporčík Horáček

Petr Procházka

Míša, syn Jarošové

Karel Vochoč

řidič František Růžička

Robert Vrchota

garážmistr Hájek

Eva Trunečková

Vaňková, matka Marty

Alois Liškutín

Vaněk, otec Marty

Libuše Geprtová

Prošková

Karel Chromík

kriminalista Remeš

Ladislav Županič

kriminalista Janda

Karel Hábl

kriminalista Durdík

Josef Janoušek (2)

kriminalista Šíma

Milan Klásek

patolog MUDr. Veselý

Jiří Žák

zástupce garážmistra Tůma

Jiří Havel

lékař v sanitce

Kateřina Vlková

stopařka Květa Maredová

Leoš Jirsák

on sám, major Jirsák z Federální kriminalistické ústředny

Jana Robenková

profesorka

Radoslava Stupková

studentka Bálková

Daniela Vacková

studentka Jarmila

Markéta Fišerová

studentka Navrátilová

Barbora Štěpánová

studentka Syrůčková

Richard Maška

řidič Standa

Rudolf Kalina

řidič Rudolf

Mnislav Hofmann

strážný

Karel Koloušek

strážný

Věra Laňková

doručovatelka

Ladislav Lahoda

snajpr SNB

Ladislav Šimek

vedoucí skladu

Václav Král

železničář

Oldřich Velen

Lokša, kolega Jarošové

Zdeněk Skalický

číšník

Antonín Stockinger

řidič Lukeš

Libuše Kosová

dívka v hospodě

Jiří Reichert

přítel dívky

Květoslava Houdlová

zákaznice, Růžičkova žena

Jitka Asterová

stopařka

Miroslav Rataj

Šafář

Petr Jákl

hlídka VB

Miroslav Jíra

hlídka VB

Ludvík Wolf

hlídka VB

Jaroslav Tomsa

pilot vrtulníku

Petr Pospíchal

řidič policejní volhy

Vratislav Hurych

řidič policejní Tatry 603

Pavel Myslík

čerpadlář

Milan Štrich

čerpadlář

Zdeněk Srstka

řidič Lady

Jaroslav Klenot

řidič Lady

Dubbing

Vilém Besser

hlas Charváta

Naďa Konvalinková

hlas stopařky Černé

Tomáš Holý

hlas Míši

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Jiří Růžička st.

Assistant Director

Tomáš Urban, Helena Matušková

Shooting Script

Jindřich Polák

Script Editor

Věra Kalábová

Second Unit Photography

Václav Helliman

Camera Operator

Bohumil Vodička

Production Designer

Milan Nejedlý

Set Designer

Jaroslav Česal, Karel Kočí

Costume Designer

Theodor Pištěk ml.

Make-Up Artist

Vladimír Petřina

Film Editor

Zdeněk Stehlík

Sound Designer

Jiří Pavlík

Production Manager

Jan Balzer

Unit Production Manager

Viktor Schwarcz, Zdeňka Černá

Unit Production Manager

Kateřina Paluzgová

Consultant

mjr. Karel Pilař

Cooperation

Miloslav Mirvald

Music

Music Composed by

Karel Svoboda

Music Performed by

skupina Discobolos, FISYO

Music Conducted by

Štěpán Koníček (FISYO)

Production info

Original Title

Smrt stopařek

English Title

Death of Hitch-Hikers

Copyright

1979

Production Year

1979

Premiere

05.10.1979

Creative Group

Miloš Brož

Technical info

Format

35mm , Betacam, DVD

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 18. festival českých a slovenských filmů Košice

1980
Košice / Czechoslovakia
Jindřich Polák

Vítěz

Exhibition: 2. soutěžní přehlídka filmů a televizních pořadů s bezpečnostní tematikou Terezín

1979
Terezín / Czechoslovakia