The Hitch-Hiker (The Twilight Zone)
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|The Twilight Zone episode|
Inger Stevens in a scene from the episode
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Alvin Ganzer|
|Story by||Lucille Fletcher|
|Teleplay by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||Stock, featuring Bernard Herrmann's score for the original radio version of "The Hitch-Hiker"|
|Original air date||January 22, 1960|
|“||Her name is Nan Adams. She's twenty-seven years old. Her occupation: buyer at a New York department store. At present on vacation, driving cross-country to Los Angeles, California from Manhattan.||”|
27 year old Nan Adams, on a cross-country road trip from New York City to Los Angeles, gets a flat tire on U.S. Route 11 in Pennsylvania and has an accident. A mechanic puts a spare tire on her car, comments that he's surprised she survived the accident, saying "you shouldn't've called for a mechanic, somebody shoulda called for a hearse" and directs her to follow him to the nearest town to fix it properly. Just before she leaves, Nan notices a shabby and strange-looking man hitchhiking, but the mechanic doesn't see him when she mentions it. Unnerved, she drives away. As she continues her trip, Nan sees the same hitchhiker thumbing for a ride again in Virginia at several other points on her journey. She becomes increasingly frightened of him. When she sees him on the other side of a railroad crossing, she tries to drive away but becomes stuck on the tracks and nearly hit by a train. She becomes convinced that the hitchhiker is trying to kill her. She continues to drive, becoming more and more afraid, stopping only when necessary, but every time she does, the same hitchhiker is there.
She takes a side road in New Mexico, but ends up stranded when she runs out of gas. Upon reaching a gas station on foot, she is refused service as it is after hours. She's startled by a sailor on his way back to San Diego from leave. Eager for protection from the hitchhiker, she offers to drive the sailor to San Diego. The sailor convinces the gas station attendant to provide gas. As they drive together, discussing their mutual predicaments, she sees the hitchhiker on the road and swerves towards him. The sailor, who can't see him, questions her driving, and she admits she was trying to run over the hitchhiker. The sailor begins to fear for her sanity and leaves her.
In Arizona, Nan stops to call her mother. The woman who answers the phone says that Mrs. Adams is in the hospital; she had a nervous breakdown after finding out that her daughter, Nan, died in Pennsylvania six days ago when the car she was driving blew a tire and overturned. Nan realizes the truth: she did not survive the accident, and the hitchhiker is not a man who wants her to die, but rather the personification of death, patiently and persistently waiting for her to realize that she has been dead all along. She loses all emotion and concern, feeling empty. Nan returns to the car and looks in the vanity mirror on the visor. Instead of her reflection, she sees the hitchhiker in her place. "I believe you're going...my way?", he inquires.
|“||Nan Adams, age twenty-seven. She was driving to California—to Los Angeles. She didn't make it. There was a detour…through The Twilight Zone.||”|
- Inger Stevens as Nan Adams
- Leonard Strong as The Hitch-Hiker
- Adam Williams as Sailor
- Russ Bender as Counterman
- Lew Gallo as Mechanic
- George Mitchell as Gas Station Man
- Eleanor Audley as Mrs. Whitney (voice)
In the original radio play by Lucille Fletcher, the character of Nan was a man named Ronald Adams. The Hitch-Hiker was first presented on the Orson Welles Show (1941), Philip Morris Playhouse (1942), Suspense (1942), and The Mercury Summer Theater (1946). All of these radio productions starred Orson Welles as Ronald Adams.
Serling named his character "Nan", after one of his daughters.
Nan's car is a 1959 Mercury Montclair whose inside rear-view mirror and front door vent panes have been removed.
- Cruz, Gilbert (October 2, 2009). "The Hitch Hiker (1960)". TIME. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
- Wheatley, Cliff (June 27, 2014). "The Top 10 Twilight Zone Episodes". IGN. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
- Morgan, David. "The 10 greatest "Twilight Zone" episodes: "The HItch-Hiker"". CBS. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0