It’s hard to believe in this era of 3D, CGI and Twitter feeds full of “Game Of Thrones” spoilers, but there was once a time when radio was king. And before he made one of the greatest movies of all time with “Citizen Kane,” Orson Welles was a master of the airwaves. This was never more evident that his October 30, 1938 broadcast adaptation of H.G. Wells‘ iconic “War Of The Worlds.” Presented in the format of fake news bulletins, the show was a hit but it was so good, that many listeners thought they were listening to updates from a real alien invasion, a situation not helped by the fact that there were no commercial breaks. It has gone down in history, enshrined at National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. And yet, it continues to fascinate.
Indeed, James Cameron himself hosted a 1998 TV special for the Sci-Fi Channel, “Martian Mania: The True Story of The War of the Worlds.” The 45-minute show dives into the everything you’d want to know about the Welles’ broadcast, featuring vintage clips, exploring the reaction the followed and comments from those who had listened to it live at the time. It’s nice little piece of radio and cinema history crossing over, so it’s well worth a look. And it should tide you over until later this year when the PBS series “American Experience” unveils their own look at Welles’ ‘Worlds’ on October 29th — one day shy of the 75th anniversary.