The Hitch-Hiker (The Twilight Zone)
"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 radio play The Hitch-Hiker. It is frequently listed among the series' greatest episodes.
|The Twilight Zone episode|
Inger Stevens in a scene from the episode
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Alvin Ganzer|
|Teleplay by||Rod Serling|
|Based on||The Hitch-Hiker|
by Lucille Fletcher
|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...Minor incident on Highway 11 in Pennsylvania. Perhaps, to be filed away under "accidents you walk away from." But from this moment on, Nan Adams' companion on a trip to California will be terror. Her route: fear. Her destination: quite unknown.||”|
Nan Adams, 27, 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 should've 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 grows increasingly frightened of him. When she sees him on the other side of a railroad crossing, she tries to drive away but gets stuck on the tracks and is 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. Every time she stops, however, the hitchhiker is there, always ahead of her.
Nan takes a side road in New Mexico but gets stranded when she runs out of gas. She reaches a gas station on foot but it's closed, the proprietor refusing to reopen and sell her gas due to how late it is. She gets 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 persuades the gas station attendant to provide gas. As they drive together and discuss their mutual predicaments, she sees the hitchhiker on the road and swerves toward 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 his safety and leaves her, despite her efforts to have him stay, even offering to go out with him.
In Arizona, Nan stops to call her mother. The woman who answers the phone says Mrs. Adams is in the hospital, having suffered 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 never survived the accident in Pennsylvania and the hitchhiker is none other than 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 in her place the hitchhiker, who says, "I believe you're going...my way?"
|“||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 light-colored 1959 Mercury Montclair four-door hardtop that had the inside rear-view mirror and front door vent windows removed. However, in the scene where Nan swerved toward the hitch-hiker, the car shown is a black 1957 Ford two-door sedan.
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.
- 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.