The Hitch-Hiker (The Twilight Zone)

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"The Hitch-Hiker"
The Twilight Zone episode
Inger Stevens Twilight Zone 1960.jpg
Inger Stevens in a scene from the episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 16
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"
Production code 173-3612
Original air date January 22, 1960
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"I Shot an Arrow into the Air"
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"The Fever"
The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) (season 1)
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"The Hitch-Hiker" is episode sixteen of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on January 22, 1960 on CBS. It is based on Lucille Fletcher's The Hitch-Hiker.

It is considered by some to be among the series' greatest episodes.[1][2][3]

Opening narration[edit]

Plot[edit]

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.

Closing narration[edit]

Cast[edit]

Episode notes[edit]

Rod Serling modeling an airplane with actress Inger Stevens, 1960

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.

When the teleplay was adapted for radio on The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas in 2002, the role of Nan Adams was played by Kate Jackson.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cruz, Gilbert (October 2, 2009). "The Hitch Hiker (1960)". TIME. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  2. ^ Wheatley, Cliff (June 27, 2014). "The Top 10 Twilight Zone Episodes". IGN. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  3. ^ 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

External links[edit]