I do like the episode but there's an underlying prosaicness sic to it that drags it down a notch or two for me. Thursday, December 8, "The Hitch-Hiker". Inger Stevens as Nan Adams. Season One, Episode Rod Serling based on the radio play by Lucille Fletcher. Buck Houghton Production Manager: Davis and William Ferrari Set Decoration: Franklin Milton and Jean Valentino. She begins her trip next week on The Twilight Zone.
And you'll be with her when she meets. Rod Serling's Opening Narration: She's twenty-seven years old.
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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 Adam's companion on a trip to California will be terror, her route fear, her destination quite unknown. Leonard Strong as the phantom hitch-hiker. After her vehicle suffers a blowout, Nan Adams is assisted on the side of the highway by a mechanic from a nearby service station. After telling Nan that she's lucky to be alive after suffering a blowout at highway speeds, the mechanic fashions a spare onto her car and instructs her to follow him into town so that he can get a proper tire placed on her car.
It is after climbing back into her car that Nan first sees the figure that will torment her for the remainder of her cross-country trip. He is a middle-aged man, shabbily dressed, standing on the side of the road, motioning, as a hitch-hiker does, for a ride. Even at this first sight, it is clear that his presence disturbs Nan. Once in town, the mechanic puts a new tire on Nan's car.
While standing outside the gas station, Nan spies the shabby hitch-hiker in a mirror.
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He is standing on the shoulder of the highway behind her. She looks quickly away, unnerved by the sight of the man. The mechanic notices the change in Nan's behavior. When prompted, Nan tells the mechanic about the hitch-hiker.
When the mechanic looks, he doesn't see a hitch-hiker. The man has inexplicably vanished. Nan manages to shrug this off and drives away from the gas station. Nan's panic about the hitch-hiker begins to reach a fever pitch as she continues on her trip.
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She begins to see him more and more often, always standing on the side of the road, holding his thumb out for a ride. Nan drives faster and faster, panicked by the fact that it is all but impossible for a hitch-hiker to stay ahead of her on the trip. The hitch-hiker is unassuming and never does anything outright threatening but Nan still feels fear at the sight of him.
When she is stopped by a highway flag man at a portion of construction, the hitch-hiker appears at her back passenger window, asking if she is headed west. She cries out and hits the gas, swerving around the construction site, to the dismay of the flag man. Nan's next encounter with the hitch-hiker proves to be the most terrifying. Stopping at railroad tracks for a train to cross, Nan sees the hitch-hiker on the opposite side of the tracks.
Once again feeling the pressure of panic rising within her, Nan decides to quickly cross the railroad tracks before the train arrives only to have her car stall halfway onto the tracks. With the train bearing down on her, Nan manages to get the car moving at the last second and backs off of the tracks to the safety of the roadway. It seems to have been the last straw and a terrible burden on Nan's increasingly fragile sanity. She believes the hitch-hiker beckoned her onto the railroad tracks in an attempt to kill her.
Night falls and Nan attempts to lose the hitch-hiker by taking an out of the way path off the main highway. She runs out of gas on a back road.
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She runs down the road, frightened and jumping at every tree and shadow, until she reaches a gas station after closing hours. Nan pounds on the door in desperation, waking up the proprietor, a surly man that refuses to provide Nan with the gas she needs until regular hours the following morning.
She tries to tell the gas station owner about the hitch-hiker but is unable to say in what way the hitch-hiker is actually harming her. From out of the darkness comes a hand on Nan's shoulder.
She turns around, terrified, sure that it will be the hitch-hiker only to find a young sailor on leave. He has been hitching his way back to San Diego to meet with his shipmates. The sailor manages to get some gas for Nan's car and is eager to hitch a ride with her when Nan tells him that she will drive him all the way to San Diego.
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