Suspense – The Hitchhiker
The Suspense episode “The Hitchhiker” is well known because the radio play was transformed into a television episode, and it has since lived on in reruns. In this story, a supernatural hitchhiker follows the main character on a trip across the country.
Orson Welles, for whom the role was written, first performed “The Hitchhiker” on the CBS network’s Mercury Theater on the Air in 1941, and then again on Suspense in 1942. The radio play was written by Lucille Fletcher, who also wrote Suspense‘s most famous episode, “Sorry, Wrong Number.” (This episode also features her husband, legendary film-composer Bernard Herrmann, who composed and conducted the music.) In 1960, “The Hitch-Hiker” became an episode of the CBS television show, The Twilight Zone but with Inger Stevens in the lead role.
The radio version has chilling sound effects. Well, chilling or hokey. It depends on your point of view. Listen for the sound effects of the phone call made by Welles. The suspense builds as his call goes from operator to operator across the country, but it also shows how many people had to be involved just to make a phone call back then!
This episode was broadcast on September 2, 1942.
Total Play Time: About 30 Minutes.
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