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The true story of the night that Orson Welles broadcast his version of 'H.G. Welles'' classic ''The War of the Worlds'' on the radio. Designed to be as realistic as possible, many people were fooled into thinking that an alien invasion was actually taking place.Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
The film is set on Sunday 30th October 1938, airdate of "The Mercury Theatre on the Air"'s famous Halloween broadcast of H.G. Wells' 'War of the Worlds' on CBS from New York. See more »
The announcer introducing the Mercury Theatre on the Air's production of "The War of the Worlds" names Orson Welles and Howard Koch as the writer. While Koch did write the script, he was not named in the introduction to the original broadcast. See more »
[to her assistant, assessing the Mercury Theater's show]
Looks like another big night for Charlie Mc Carthy.
See more »
Premiered om ABC-TV at two hours (with commercials). A subsequent network rebroadcast was cut to fit a ninety-minute time slot. Both versions later turned up in syndication. See more »
In October of 1938, the world was on the brink of war and in the midst of a depression. People were frightened about the present an frightened about the future. One part of this movie, at least, is about fear - the fear felt by people facing tough situations and how easy it is to tap into that fear.
"The Night That Panicked America" is the story (accurately told for the most part) of the night of October 30, 1938. The CBS Radio Network and Orson Welles broadcast their version of H.G. Wells' "The War Of The Worlds." Largely taking the form of news broadcasts, and with people tuning in and out and not necessarily catching the disclaimer at the start, panic began to spread, as people heard the fake news reports and actually believed that Martians were attacking. The portrayal of mass hysteria is very interesting; how easy it was to convince people that this was real was actually rather frightening. I've seen estimates that about 6 million people heard the broadcast, 1.7 million of them believed it and 1.2 million were actually very frightened by what they thought was happening. Fascinating to think how easily manipulated the masses could be by someone deliberately setting out to do it - and, in 1938, CBS wasn't setting out to manipulate; they were just setting out to entertain with a scary Halloween Eve broadcast. Fascinating.
The other interesting aspect of the movie is the technical side. It was also fascinating to see the re-creation of how a 1938 radio show was put together. That alone made this worthwhile viewing - especially to see what they did for something that we today would think of as being as simple as sound effects.
Is this is a great movie? Probably not. It's not exactly what I would call riveting. But it is a good look both at early radio and at the phenomenon of mass hysteria. (7/10)
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