This month marks the 70th anniversary of Orson Welles’ infamous “The War of the Worlds” radio broadcast that brought my home state of New Jersey to its knees on Halloween night, 1938. The original “The War of the Worlds” novel by H.G. Wells, the radio broadcast, and the 1953 George Pal film have all been obsessions of mine since I was a kid. The 2005 Spielberg movie … not so much … but that’s a topic for another time.
Yesterday, thanks to the power of the internets, I stumbled across a small treat that I didn’t even know existed — a short conversation between Orson Welles and H.G. Wells on a radio program (KTSA, San Antonio) from October 28, 1940. A native of England and a prolific social commentator, H.G. Wells was 74 at the time, having written “The War of the Worlds” in 1898. Welles was 25.[audio:Wells_Welles_1940.mp3]
To put the topics mentioned in this conversation into perspective, it takes place two years after Welles’ controversial radio broadcast, six months before Welles’ watershed film “Citizen Kane” would premiere to widespread acclaim, and about a year before Japan would bomb Pearl Harbor, bringing the U.S. into WW2 (Britain had already been at war for a year). And that’s probably as much as you need to know to appreciate this cool bit of sci-fi history.