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The Night That Panicked America

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I was wondering if any one has seen this movie, as far as I know it was shown only on TV only, 1st showing was 2 hrs long and the 2nd showing they had cut down to 90 min`s. It`s a movie about how Orson Wells and his crew put this country in Panick, this movie starring Paul Shanar, Vic Morrow can not recall any one else right now. It is something else to watch how they put this on radio and the effects they used to scare the britches off this country and make it seem so real. I do think that maybe this is why the great movie War of the Worlds was made, I have the one with Gene Barry and Tom Cruz plus one made in England I believe, I also believe I.D.4 was a take off of these movies. If anyone can tell me how I can get this, PLEASE let me know, would love to complete my collection

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  • 8 months later...

It was a made for television movie, first aired around Halloween 1975. It was pretty well done. I remember a few scenes, like the guy opening a jar in a toilet bowl to make the sound of the Martian ship opening. Also I remember when Vic Morrow was about to shoot his family to spare them from Martian death rays.


TCM could show that, show the 1953 War of the Worlds, and show "Buckaroo Banzai," which takes as its premise the idea that the Martians really landed in New Jersey in 1938 and hypnotized Welles to claim it was all a fake. There are a ton of references to Welles in "Buckaroo Banzai."


there is also a cute short episode from the 1985 TV series "New Twilight Zone" called "Sound Effects" or something like that, in which Welles accidentally conjures up an invasion from space.

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The interesting thing about what happened on that night, October 30th 1938, is that the introduction to that nights episode of Mercury Theatre on the Air stated what was about to air. Unfortunately, this was one of the radio programs that did not air any sponsor commercials during the broadcast. I have a copy of the original broadcast, and I can understand how a person could have been panicked by the broadcast. Especially if one tuned in late, or completely missed the show's introduction. Which is precisely what happened in most cases of panic, others panicked when they were instructed by friends/family/neighbors to tune into the broadcast thinking that it was an emergency broadcast. This broadcast was one of radio's finest ever, but was unfortunately overshadowed by the panic of several underinformed listeners.



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Apparently what happened was that Mercury Theater was on the air against Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. People listened to the ventriloquist's opening monologue and then when Nelson Eddy began singing "Men of Burgundy," they switched channels and came across "War of the worlds" after all the introductions and disclaimers, just as the "news bulletins" started. (Remember too this was only a few weeks after the Munich/Sudetenland crisis had been resolved, so people were used to "we interrupt this broadcast" and expecting war.)


Alexander Wolcott told Orson Welles: "The trouble, dear Orson, is that all the smart people were listening to a dummy, and all the dummies were listening to you."

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