Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Greatest Entertainment Ever Made [re-post]

The Mercury Theater on the Air - H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds (October 30th, 1938)

Mp3, Stereo, 128 kbps, 50.6 MB

From the CD booklet:

The original, uncut dramatization!

On the foggy fall evening of October 30, 1938, America went to war with Mars!

Adapted for radio by Howard Koch and starring Orson Welles,
War of the Worlds was presented as a special Halloween thriller, or as Welles put it: "The Mercury Theater's own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying 'boo!'" But for those who tuned in late, "normal" programming appeared to be interrupted with the startling news that there were "explosions occurring on the Planet Mars!" Reports followed stating that a "huge, flaming object" had fallen to Earth on a farm near Grover's Mill, New Jersey. More landings were soon reported and an anxious radio audience came to the frightening conclusion that Earth was the target of a full-scale invasion by aliens!

'...Some shape is rising out of the pit.
I can make out a small beam of light againt a mirror.
What's that...It's a jet of flames springing from that mirror and it's pointed right at the heads of the men.
It strikes them head-on! They're turning to flames!'

This is the program which terrified a nation. Thousands fled their homes in panic. In the town of Grover's Mill, the local water tower was pumped full of buckshot as frightened believers fired at what they thought was a giant Martian war machine. The true power of broadcast made itself known on this Halloween eve. And no one has forgotten the chilling fear and awesome force of this, radio's single most famous broadcast!"

Read the Wikipedia story here.

1 comment:

Mikel J said...

The strangest thing about that scare is w/todays technology it could be done so much better. All it would take is a bit of cooperation between broadcasters and say hello to mass hysteria ala 2010. I think Orson & the crew had an idea of what the broadcast was going to do. Listening to the recording of that Mecury Radio Theater, there weren't too many disclaimers made about the program being fictitious. Reading the newspapers from around that time, some indicated broadcasters started to insert a 'notice of fiction' disclaimer locally so you won't hear them on copies of the network broadcast.