An account of Orson Welles' 1938 radio drama broadcast that inadvertently started a mass panic.


Cathleen O'Connell


Michelle Ferrari (story), Michelle Ferrari (telescript) | 1 more credit »





Episode credited cast:
Charissa Allen Charissa Allen
Julian Arahanga
Edgar Bergen ... Self / Charlie McCarthy (archive sound)
Peter Bogdanovich ... Self - Film Director
Brenda Isaacs Booth ... Bertha Boughton (as Brenda Isaacs-Booth)
Brady Coleman
Ray Collins Ray Collins ... Mr. Wilmuth (archive sound)
Buster Crabbe ... Flash Gordon (archive footage)
Robert Crossley Robert Crossley ... Self - Writer
Sonny Davis Sonny Davis
Kenny Delmar Kenny Delmar ... Captain Lansing / Franklin D. Roosevelt / Policeman (archive sound)
Lucien Douglas Lucien Douglas
Susan Douglas Susan Douglas ... Self - Historian
Chris Wells Feder Chris Wells Feder ... Self - Daughter of Orson Wells
Bart Fletcher Bart Fletcher


An account of Orson Welles' 1938 radio drama broadcast that inadvertently started a mass panic.

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References Call It a Day (1937) See more »

User Reviews

Wonderful Look at the Historic Night
26 November 2013 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

The American Experience: War of the Worlds (2013)

**** (out of 4)

October 30, 1938 turned out to be the date for the most famous radio broadcast in history. This was the date that panic took over America as Orson Welles did a radio show of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds but the only problem is that many listeners thought it was a real alien attack. I've seen quite a few articles and documentaries on this subject but there's no question that this here is the very best. This documentary works on so many levels but best of all is that it gives the viewer a very detailed look at the events of this day and everything that led up to the fear that overtook people in the country. It's interesting to hear certain things like how the Hindenburg disaster from the previous year played a part in how one actor of the play decided to add some extra fear. There's also the fact that many heard "alien attack" on the radio and feared that it was actually Germany coming onto our shores and attacking us. The documentary also covers the week events of the script being written and the various changes that had to be made before it hit the air. Peter Bogdanovich as well as Welles own daughter are among the people interviewed and it seems pretty clear that the great filmmaker was quite happy with the chaos that he caused even though clips of the press conference the following day tries to show him concerned over what had happened. Fans of the story, the radio broadcast or just the history behind it should really enjoy this episode as it pretty much contains everything you'd want to hear about it.

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Release Date:

29 October 2013 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

WGBH See more »
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Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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