Today is the 156th anniversary of the birth of British author H.G. Wells!
It’s a bit of a tradition around these parts to celebrate H.G. Wells’s birthday with the help of another Welles, in this case Orson. Here is the infamous 1938 radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds. This is the program that became famous for terrorizing America. Of course, there’s always been some suggestions that the reports of panic were a bit exaggerated. That’s always possible. Orson Welles was, at heart, a showman and he knew how to tell and embellish a story. That said, it is also known for fact that enough people took the show seriously that the panic made the front page of the New York Times.
The first half of the show is an early example of what would become known as the found footage genre. It was the first mockumentary! The second half features Welles narrating the events after the invasion. During the second half, the news program angle is dropped and it becomes a traditional radio broadcast. One would hope that even panicked listeners would have taken the hint but who knows? They may have been too busy loading up their shotguns and heading outside to search for Martians to have been paying attention at that point.