Do you hear it? It's a curious humming sound that seems to come from inside the object.
October 30, 2003 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News....
Today is the 65th anniversary of the famous Mercury Theatre presentation of War of the Worlds, as adapted for Radio by Orson Welles. The infamous broadcast (listen in Real Audio or RealAudio or TrueSpeech) caused no small amount of uneasyness, and even some outright panic as listeners, already unsettled by coverage of the impending war in Europe, were all to willing to believe that Martians had indeed landed in Grovers Mill, New Jersey. The broadcast led to an FCC investigation and remains a touchstone in the evolution of the American media.
posted by anastasiav (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
didn't we just do this?
posted by quonsar at 9:58 AM on October 30, 2003

I heard it once, knowing what it was,decades after, and was still slightly worried. It still worked. Orson Welles was a genius. Really.

Thanks for the links and reminder, anastasiav. The older I get, the more I love radio. And MetaFilter. Anything traditional and handmade, in fact. Even quonsar! :)

Boring factlet: My sister once served OW. He came into the wine shop she was working in, Victoria Wine in South Kensingston, London, in the early 80's. He asked for a bottle of sherry - a brand he'd been advertising on TV. He was wearing a cape and a dashing fedora and was very polite and fat. His voice was like the voice of God, so she produced the bottle of Pedro Domecq Fino with a speed she'd never heard about outside of Einstein. I've always envied her this encounter.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:10 AM on October 30, 2003

He was wearing a cape and a dashing fedora and was very polite and fat. His voice was like the voice of God...

I'm having that put on my tombstone.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:20 AM on October 30, 2003

He only advertised cheap wine here in America--wasn't it ernest and julio gallo? ("We will serve no wine...before its time")

It's hard to imagine the uproar this caused back then...and how different our sensibilities are now, in a much more media-saturated era.
posted by amberglow at 10:23 AM on October 30, 2003

how time flies. last discussion of WOTW i can find was from a year ago. my bad.
posted by quonsar at 10:24 AM on October 30, 2003

quonsar, I think you might be thinking of this post on Monday -- which I hadn't realized was a War of the Worlds post until I went back and searched for Mercury Theatre. My bad, I guess....

Miguel, I've always imagined that your voice is like the voice of God....
posted by anastasiav at 10:31 AM on October 30, 2003

[this is good]
posted by plep at 10:49 AM on October 30, 2003

This is probably not a good place to admit that I'm rather fond of Jeff Wayne's WOTW concept album, but there it is. The second volume of Alan Moore's excellent comic book League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is also borrowing freely from Wells.
posted by muckster at 11:53 AM on October 30, 2003

His voice was like the voice of God...

I've often been told that.
posted by Voice of God at 1:09 PM on October 30, 2003 [1 favorite]


We know a remote farm in Lincolnshire...scroll down past Mr Philpott to the Real Audio Clip of Orson.
posted by johnny novak at 1:12 PM on October 30, 2003

you people are pests
posted by johnny novak at 1:37 PM on October 30, 2003

An of course yet another article pointing out that mass panic itself was quite possibly a hoax.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:51 PM on October 30, 2003

Actually this is what happened on that day:

Hallowe'en 1938.

A year after a mysterious meteorite lit up the skies of New York state, Martian invaders laid waste to the nation. At least, according to soon-to-be infamous Orson Welles they did. But what if some of the panicked listeners to the legendary War of the Worlds broadcast weren't just imagining things?

Attempting to deliver Charley to her rendezvous in Singapore 1930, the Doctor overshoots a little, arriving in Manhattan just in time to find a dead private detective. Indulging his gumshoe fantasies, the Doctor is soon embroiled in the hunt for a missing Russian scientist whilst Charley finds herself at the mercy of a very dubious Fifth Columnist.

With some genuinely out of this world 'merchandise' at stake, the TARDIS crew are forced into an alliance with a sultry dame called Glory Bee, Orson Welles himself and a mobster with half a nose known as 'The Phantom'.

And slowly but surely, something is drawing plans against them. Just not very good ones...

The full story can be found here...

[and yes the actual production happened the day before Halloween, but it's a long story ...]
posted by feelinglistless at 3:48 PM on October 30, 2003

What is blaringly amazing is that a moment's consideration should have been enough to reveal the hoax -- the way that events covering what would have had to have been several hours we're drastically condensed into such a short span. One minute -- tranquility, ten minutes later there's pandemonium as reporters and the military converge at Grover's Mill. Duh!

Easy to say after the fact, of course.
posted by RavinDave at 3:49 PM on October 30, 2003

F is for Fake is an Orson Wells' documentary on the subject of fakery, others' and his own. (And if you're in Seattle it's playing at ConWorks at the end of November. )
posted by donovan at 4:59 PM on October 30, 2003

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