The War of the Worlds

welles37The War of the Worlds is an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a Halloween episode of the series on October 30, 1938, and aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds.

The first two thirds of the 62-minute broadcast were presented as a series of simulated news bulletins, which suggested to many listeners that an actual alien invasion by Martians was currently in progress. Compounding the issue was the fact that the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a sustaining show (it ran without commercial breaks), adding to the program’s realism. Add to this the fact that many listeners tuned in late to the broadcast since they had been listening to Charlie McCarthy on another channel and missed the early disclaimers in the show. Although there were sensationalist accounts in the press about a supposed panic in response to the broadcast, the precise extent of listener response has been debated.

In the days following the adaptation, however, there was widespread outrage and panic by certain listeners, who had believed the events described in the program were real. The program’s news-bulletin format was described as cruelly deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast. Despite these complaints—or perhaps in part because of them—the episode secured Welles’ fame as a dramatist.

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Escape & The Aldrich Family

Escape: Three Skeleton Key

Three men tending a lighthouse on an island off the coast of French Guiana. An abandoned ship, overrun by thousands of ferocious rats, makes landfall inducing a life-and-death struggle against the hungry horde.

James Poe adapted the story for radio in a version that aired on Escape in 1949 and returned to the program by popular demand in 1950 and 1953. Each episode featured a different cast.

The Aldrich Family: Halloween Originally aired October 31, 1940.

A Prank goes wrong as Henry and his pal Toby plan to ring just one doorbell on Halloween. A deep well gets Toby, Henry and Homer in trouble with the law…several times.

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