NOW AVAILABLE FREE ON SOUNDCLOUD!
By Alfred Hitchcock
Performed by Mark Redfield
Announcer: Mary Anne Perry
Music: Lee David
Recording Engineer/Technical Director is Bill Dickson of Drat Productions.
Running time: 4m10sec
Copyright Mark Redfield & Damfino Media.
GAS is a (very) short story written by Alfred Hitchcock when he was 20 years-old, in 1919.
During Hitchcock's formative years as a young man, before he embarked on a career in motion pictures, he was a voracious reader of crime fiction and true-crime tales. One of his favorite authors was Edgar Allan Poe.
In a magazine article in the 1960s, Hitchcock recounted how Poe's proto-detective story Murders in the Rue Morgue made a deep impression. Hitchcock was particularly struck by the simplicity of Poe's short stories, how they provoked emotion in the reader and made their effects simply and directly, with just enough plausibility and character to allow the reader to enter the writer's world and be immersed in the drama and suspense.
Said Hitchcock, "At sixteen I discovered the work of Edgar Allan Poe. I happened to read first his biography, and the sadness of his life made a great impression on me. I felt an enormous pity for him, because in spite of his talent he had never been happy....
When I came home from the office where I worked I went straight to my room, took the cheap edition of his Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, and began to read. I still remember my feelings when I finished "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." I was afraid, but this fear made me discover something I've never forgotten since: fear, you see, is an emotion people like to feel when they know they're safe....
Very likely it's because I was so taken with the Poe stories that I later made suspense films. I don't want to seem immodest, but I can't help comparing what I've tried to put in my films with what Edgar Allan Poe put in his novels: a completely unbelievable story told to the readers with such a spellbinding logic that you get the impression that the same thing could happen to you tomorrow."
Hitchcock, in his late teens during World War One, worked for a telegraph cable company called Henley's. While employed there as a draftsman and advertising designer, making illustrations and cartoons, he contributed several pieces of creative writing to the in-house company publication, called The Henley Telegraph. His very first pieces of fiction ever, Gas, was included in the premiere issue of The Henley Telegraph. He would contribute many more pieces of short fiction before leaving Henley's and going to work in the nascent British film industry.