War of the Worlds
- Episode aired Oct 29, 2013
An account of Orson Welles' 1938 radio drama broadcast that inadvertently started a mass panic.An account of Orson Welles' 1938 radio drama broadcast that inadvertently started a mass panic.An account of Orson Welles' 1938 radio drama broadcast that inadvertently started a mass panic.
This "American Experience" episode-"The War of the Worlds"-puts things in perspective surrounding the events of that infamous radio broadcast
Exactly 75 years and a day ago, Orson Welles managed to cause a public panic over the radio airwaves when he presented his version of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" as a series of interrupting news bulletins for most of an hour without commercial interruption or a disclaimer informing the fictional nature of the program except at the beginning or near the end. Much of the listeners may have come in late since it was opposite the very popular program, "The Chase and Sanborn Hour" starring Edgar Bergen and his dummy, Charlie McCarthy. But when Nelson Eddy started singing, many switched dials and heard about invading Martians. It was during this period in time that much of those listeners were used to news about Hitler possibly invading the U.S. based on his doing so to other countries. Also, the previous year, there was the Hindenburg disaster that was harrowingly reported live as it happened. This "American Experience" program discussed those details and also had actors play actual citizens who commented on what happened to them as the program went on the air. Many were not amused though some were relieved when learning it was just a play. I especially liked the woman who laughed while getting drunk when the bartender told her it wasn't true. Seeing Welles in the press conference expressing regret was fascinating to watch especially as his daughter reveals he seemed to enjoy the attention that resulted afterwards. Quite fascinating, the way the thing was put together with what I just mentioned as well as scenes from a later live TV special called "The Night America Trembled" about the events surrounding that infamous program and which I reviewed several years ago on this site. So on that note, I highly recommend "The American Experience: The War of the Worlds".
- Oct 31, 2013
Contribute to this page
Suggest an edit or add missing content