Thursday, 30 October 2008

War of the Worlds 70th Anniversary broadcast

70 years ago this evening Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre on the Air broadcast what would become one of the most infamous radio plays in history. Adapted by and written by Howard Koch, and famously directed by Orson Welles, it was originally broadcast on 30th of October 1938 and caused great controversy at the time (not to mention covering up the actual invasion by the red lectroids).

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Der Geis said...

At the beginning of the recording, there is, of course, the opening monologue that pretty much revealed that this was a Mercury Theater on the Air production of the War of the Worlds.

Except that it didn't happen that way.

The myth is that most people tuned in late because they had been listening to the Charlie McCarthy program on another station and thus missed the introduction. But in talking with both William Tenn (Phil Klass) and Hal Clement, they both told me that they wanted to hear the radio program that was scheduled for that evening and they were tuned in from the very begining. There was no introduction. It went from the previous program right into the next program and then was interrupted by the "breaking news."

When the government made a stink, they demanded a recording of the broadcast from CBS because they didn't have one. It was an easy thing for Orson Wells to add the introduction to the official recording he gave to the FCC.

Pretty clever.