Broadcast on the Columbia Broadcasting System on Sunday, October
30, 1938 from 8:00 to 9:00 P.M.
Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present
Orson Welles and The Mercury Theatre on the Air in The
War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells.
MERCURY THEATRE MUSICAL THEME)
and gentlemen, the director of the Mercury Theatre and star of these
broadcasts, Orson Welles.
know now that in the early years of the twentieth century this world
was being watched closely by intelligences greater than man's, and
yet as mortal as his own. We know now that as human beings busied
themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and
studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might
scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a
drop of water. With infinite complacence people went to and fro
over the earth about their little affairs, serene in the assurance
of their dominion over this small, spinning fragment of solar driftwood
which, by chance or design, man has inherited out of the dark mystery
of Time and Space. Yet across an immense ethereal gulf, minds that
are to our minds as ours are to the beasts in the jungle, intellects
vast, cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes
and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. In the thirty-ninth
year of the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.
was near the end of October. Business was better. The war scare
was over. More men were back at work. Sales were picking up. On
this particular evening, October 30th, the Crosley service estimated
that thirty-two million people were listening in on radios.
the next twenty-four hours not much change in temperature. A slight
atmospheric disturbance of undetermined origin is reported over
Nova Scotia, causing a low pressure area to move down rather rapidly
over the northeastern states, bringing a forecast of rain, accompanied
by winds of light gale force. Maximum temperature 66; minimum 48.
This weather report comes to you from the Government Weather Bureau.
We take you now to the Meridian Room in the Hotel Park Plaza in
downtown New York, where you'll be entertained by the music of Ram—n
Raquello and his orchestra.
SPANISH THEME SONG ["NO MORE," A TANGO]... FADES)
evening, ladies and gentlemen. From the Meridian Room in the Park
Plaza Hotel in New York City, we bring you the music of Ram—n Raquello
and his orchestra. With a touch of the Spanish, Ram—n Raquello leads
off with "La Cumparsita."
CUMPARSITA" STARTS PLAYING, THEN QUICKLY FADES OUT)
and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring
you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. At
twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of
the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing
several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals
on the planet Mars.
spectroscope indicates the gas to be hydrogen and moving towards
the earth with enormous velocity. Professor Pierson of the Observatory
at Princeton confirms Farrell's observation, and describes the phenomenon
as, quote, "like a jet of blue flame shot from a gun," unquote.
We now return you to the music of Ram—n Raquello, playing for you
in the Meridian Room of the Park Plaza Hotel, situated in downtown
PLAYS FOR A FEW MOMENTS UNTIL PIECE ENDS... SOUND OF APPLAUSE)
now a tune that never loses favor, the ever-popular "Stardust."
Ram—n Raquello and his orchestra...
and gentlemen, following on the news given in our bulletin a moment
ago, the Government Meteorological Bureau has requested the large
observatories of the country to keep an astronomical watch on any
further disturbances occurring on the planet Mars. Due to the unusual
nature of this occurrence, we have arranged an interview with a
noted astronomer, Professor Pierson, who will give us his views
on this event. In a few moments we will take you to the Princeton
Observatory at Princeton, New Jersey. We return you until then to
the music of Ram—n Raquello and his orchestra.
"STARDUST" PLAYS FOR A WHILE, THEN QUICKLY FADES OUT )
are ready now to take you to the Princeton Observatory at Princeton
where Carl Phillips, our commentator, will interview Professor Richard
Pierson, famous astronomer. We take you now to Princeton, New Jersey.
CHAMBER. SOUND OF TICKING CLOCK.)
evening, ladies and gentlemen. This is Carl Phillips, speaking to
you from the observatory of Princeton. I am standing in a large
semi-circular room, pitch black except for an oblong split in the
ceiling. Through this opening I can see a sprinkling of stars that
cast a kind of frosty glow over the intricate mechanism of the huge
telescope. The ticking sound you hear is the vibration of the clockwork.
Professor Pierson stands directly above me on a small platform,
peering through the giant lens. I ask you to be patient, ladies
and gentlemen, during any delay that may arise during our interview.
Besides his ceaseless watch of the heavens, Professor Pierson may
be interrupted by telephone or other communications. During this
period he is in constant touch with the astronomical centers of
the world... Professor, may I begin our questions?
At any time, Mr. Phillips.
would you please tell our radio audience exactly what you see as
you observe the planet Mars through your telescope?
unusual at the moment, Mr. Phillips. A red disk swimming in a blue
sea. Transverse stripes across the disk. Quite distinct now because
Mars happens to be the point nearest the earth... in opposition,
as we call it.
In your opinion, what do these transverse stripes signify, Professor
canals, I can assure you, Mr. Phillips Ñ
although that's the popular conjecture of those who imagine Mars
to be inhabited. From a scientific viewpoint the stripes are merely
the result of atmospheric conditions peculiar to the planet.
Then you're quite convinced as a scientist that living intelligence
as we know it does not exist on Mars?
say the chances against it are a thousand to one.
yet, how do you account for these gas eruptions occurring on the
surface of the planet at regular intervals?
Phillips, I cannot account for it.
the way, Professor, for the benefit of our listeners, how far is
Mars from the earth?
forty million miles.
that seems a safe enough distance.
a moment, ladies and gentlemen, someone has just handed Professor
Pierson a message. While he reads it, let me remind you that we
are speaking to you from the observatory in Princeton, New Jersey,
where we are interviewing the world-famous astronomer, Professor
Pierson... Oh, one moment, please. Professor Pierson has passed
me a message which he has just received... Professor, may I read
the message to the listening audience?
and gentlemen, I shall read you a wire addressed to Professor Pierson
from Dr. Gray of the National History Museum, New York. Quote, "9:15
P.ÊM. eastern standard time. Seismograph registered shock of almost
earthquake intensity occurring within a radius of twenty miles of
Princeton. Please investigate. Signed, Lloyd Gray, Chief of Astronomical
Division," unquote. Professor Pierson, could this occurrence possibly
have something to do with the disturbances observed on the planet
Hardly, Mr. Phillips. This is probably a meteorite of unusual size
and its arrival at this particular time is merely a coincidence.
However, we shall conduct a search, as soon as daylight permits.
you, Professor. Ladies and gentlemen, for the past ten minutes we've
been speaking to you from the observatory at Princeton, bringing
you a special interview with Professor Pierson, noted astronomer.
This is Carl Phillips speaking. We are returning you now to our
New York studio.
IN PIANO PLAYING)
and gentlemen, here is the latest bulletin from the Intercontinental
Radio News. Toronto, Canada: Professor Morse of McMillan University
reports observing a total of three explosions on the planet Mars,
between the hours of 7:45 P.ÊM. and 9:20 P.ÊM., eastern standard
time. This confirms earlier reports received from American observatories.
Now, nearer home, comes a special bulletin from Trenton, New Jersey.
It is reported that at 8:50 P.ÊM. a huge, flaming object, believed
to be a meteorite, fell on a farm in the neighborhood of Grovers
Mill, New Jersey, twenty-two miles from Trenton.
flash in the sky was visible within a radius of several hundred
miles and the noise of the impact was heard as far north as Elizabeth.
have dispatched a special mobile unit to the scene, and will have
our commentator, Carl Phillips, give you a word picture of the scene
as soon as he can reach there from Princeton. In the meantime, we
take you to the Hotel Martinet in Brooklyn, where Bobby Millette
and his orchestra are offering a program of dance music.
BAND FOR TWENTY SECONDS... THEN CUT)
take you now to Grovers Mill, New Jersey.
THEN CROWD NOISES, POLICE SIRENS...)
and gentlemen, this is Carl Phillips again, out of the Wilmuth farm,
Grovers Mill, New Jersey. Professor Pierson and myself made the
eleven miles from Princeton in ten minutes. Well, I... hardly know
where to begin, to paint for you a word picture of the strange scene
before my eyes, like something out of a modern "Arabian Nights."
Well, I just got here. I haven't had a chance to look around yet.
I guess that's it. Yes, I guess that's the thing, directly in front
of me, half buried in a vast pit. Must have struck with terrific
force. The ground is covered with splinters of a tree it must have
struck on its way down. What I can see of the object itself doesn't
look very much like a meteor, at least not the meteors I've seen.
It looks more like a huge cylinder. It has a diameter of... what
would you say, Professor Pierson?
would you say... what is the diameter of this?
About thirty yards... The metal on the sheath is... well, I've never
seen anything like it. The color is sort of yellowish-white. Curious
spectators now are pressing close to the object in spite of the
efforts of the police to keep them back. They're getting in front
of my line of vision. Would you mind standing to one side, please?
side, there, one side.
the policemen are pushing the crowd back, here's Mr. Wilmuth, owner
of the farm here. He may have some interesting facts to add. Mr.
Wilmuth, would you please tell the radio audience as much as you
remember of this rather unusual visitor that dropped in your backyard?
Step closer, please. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Mr. Wilmuth.
I was listenin' to the radio.
and louder please.
please, and closer.
sir Ñ I was listening to the radio and kinda drowsin', that Professor
fellow was talkin' about Mars, so I was half dozin' and half...
Yes, yes, Mr. Wilmuth. And er... then what happened?
as I was sayin', I was listenin' to the radio kinda halfways...
Mr. Wilmuth, and then you saw something?
first off. I heard something.
what did you hear?
hissing sound. Like this:
like a fourth of July rocket.
I turned my head out the window and would have swore I was to sleep
seen that kinda greenish streak and then zingo! Somethin' smacked
the ground. Knocked me clear out of my chair!
were you frightened, Mr. Wilmuth?
I Ñ I ain't quite sure. I reckon I Ñ I was kinda riled.
you, Mr. Wilmuth. Thank you very much.
me to tell you some more?
That's quite all right, that's plenty. Ladies and gentlemen, you've
just heard Mr. Wilmuth, owner of the farm where this thing has fallen.
I wish I could convey the atmosphere... the background of this...
fantastic scene. Hundreds of cars are parked in a field in back
of us and the police are trying to rope off the roadway leading
into the farm but it's no use. They're breaking right through. Cars'
headlights throw an enormous spotlight on the pit where the object's
half buried. Now some of the more daring souls are now venturing
near the edge. Their silhouettes stand out against the metal sheen.
man wants to touch the thing... he's having an argument with a policeman.
The policeman wins... Now, ladies and gentlemen, there's something
I haven't mentioned in all this excitement, but now it's becoming
more distinct. Perhaps you've caught it already on your radio. Listen,
you hear it? It's a curious humming sound that seems to come from
inside the object. I'll move the microphone nearer. Now...
we're not more than twenty-five feet away. Can you hear it now?
Oh, Professor Pierson!
you tell us the meaning of that scraping noise inside the thing?
the unequal cooling of its surface.
see, do you still think it's a meteor, Professor?
don't know what to think. The metal casing is definitely extraterrestrial...
not found on this earth. Friction with the earth's atmosphere usually
tears holes in a meteorite. This thing is smooth and, as you can
see, of cylindrical shape.
a minute! Something's happening! Ladies and gentlemen, this is terrific!
This end of the thing is beginning to flake off! The top is beginning
to rotate like a screw and the thing must be hollow!
movin'! Look, the darn thing's unscrewing! Stand back, there! Keep
those men back, I tell you! Maybe there's men in it trying to escape!
It's red hot, they'll burn to a cinder! Keep back there. Keep those
THE CLANKING SOUND OF A HUGE PIECE OF FALLING METAL)
off! The top's loose! Look out there! Stand back!
and gentlemen, this is the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed...
Wait a minute! Someone's crawling out of the hollow top. Someone
or... something. I can see peering out of that black hole two luminous
disks . . are they eyes? It might be a face. It might be...
OF AWE FROM THE CROWD)
heavens, something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake.
Now it's another one, and another one, and another one! They look
like tentacles to me. I can see the thing's body now. It's large,
large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather. But that face,
it... Ladies and gentlemen, it's indescribable. I can hardly force
myself to keep looking at it, so awful. The eyes are black and gleam
like a serpent. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from
its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate. The monster or
whatever it is can hardly move. It seems weighed down by... possibly
gravity or something. The thing's... rising up now, and the crowd
falls back now. They've seen plenty. This is the most extraordinary
experience, ladies and gentlemen. I can't find words... I'll pull
this microphone with me as I talk. I'll have to stop the description
until I can take a new position. Hold on, will you please, I'll
be right back in a minute... (FADE INTO PIANO)
are bringing you an eyewitness account of what's happening on the
Wilmuth farm, Grovers Mill, New Jersey. (MORE PIANO)
now return you to Carl Phillips at Grovers Mill.
and gent... Am I on? Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen,
here I am, back of a stone wall that adjoins Mr. Wilmuth's garden.
From here I get a sweep of the whole scene. I'll give you every
detail as long as I can talk and as long as I can see. More state
police have arrived They're drawing up a cordon in front of the
pit, about thirty of them. No need to push the crowd back now. They're
willing to keep their distance. The captain is conferring with someone.
We can't quite see who. Oh yes, I believe it's Professor Pierson.
Yes, it is. Now they've parted and the Professor moves around one
side, studying the object, while the captain and two policemen advance
with something in their hands. I can see it now. It's a white handkerchief
tied to a pole... a flag of truce. If those creatures know what
that means... what ANYTHING means... Wait a minute! Something's
SOUND FOLLOWED BY A HUMMING THAT INCREASES IN INTENSITY)
humped shape is rising out of the pit. I can make out a small beam
of light against a mirror. What's that? There's a jet of flame springing
from that mirror, and it leaps right at the advancing men. It strikes
them head on! Good Lord, they're turning into flame!
AND UNEARTHLY SHRIEKS)
the whole field's caught fire.
woods... the barns... the gas tanks of automobiles... it's spreading
everywhere. It's coming this way. About twenty yards to my right...
and gentlemen, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are unable
to continue the broadcast from Grovers Mill. Evidently there's some
difficulty with our field transmission. However, we will return
to that point at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime, we have
a late bulletin from San Diego, California. Professor Indellkoffer,
speaking at a dinner of the California Astronomical Society, expressed
the opinion that the explosions on Mars are undoubtedly nothing
more than severe volcanic disturbances on the surface of the planet.
We continue now with our piano interlude.
and gentlemen, I have just been handed a message that came in from
Grovers Mill by telephone. Just one moment please. At least forty
people, including six state troopers lie dead in a field east of
the village of Grovers Mill, their bodies burned and distorted beyond
all possible recognition. The next voice you hear will be that of
Brigadier General Montgomery Smith, commander of the state militia
at Trenton, New Jersey.
have been requested by the governor of New Jersey to place the counties
of Mercer and Middlesex as far west as Princeton, and east to Jamesburg,
under martial law. No one will be permitted to enter this area except
by special pass issued by state or military authorities. Four companies
of state militia are proceeding from Trenton to Grovers Mill, and
will aid in the evacuation of homes within the range of military
operations. Thank you.
have just been listening to General Montgomery Smith commanding
the state militia at Trenton. In the meantime, further details of
the catastrophe at Grovers Mill are coming in. The strange creatures,
after unleashing their deadly assault, crawled back in their pit
and made no attempt to prevent the efforts of the firemen to recover
the bodies and extinguish the fire. The combined fire departments
of Mercer County are fighting the flames which menace the entire
countryside. We have been unable to establish any contact with our
mobile unit at Grovers Mill, but we hope to be able to return you
there at the earliest possible moment. In the meantime we take you
to... just one moment please!
and gentlemen, I have just been informed that we have finally established
communication with an eyewitness of the tragedy. Professor Pierson
has been located at a farmhouse near Grovers Mill where he has established
an emergency observation post. As a scientist, he will give you
his explanation of the calamity. The next voice you hear will be
that of Professor Pierson, brought to you by direct wire. Professor
THEN FILTERED VOICE)
the creatures in the rocket cylinder at Grovers Mill, I can give
you no authoritative information Ñ either to their nature, their
origin, or their purposes here on earth. Of their destructive instrument
I might venture some conjectural explanation. For want of a better
term, I shall refer to the mysterious weapon as a heat ray. It's
all too evident that these creatures have scientific knowledge far
in advance of our own. It's my guess that in some way they are able
to generate an intense heat in a chamber of practically absolute
no conductivity. This intense heat they project in a parallel beam
against any object they choose, by means of a polished parabolic
mirror of unknown composition, much as the mirror of a lighthouse
projects a beam of light. That is my conjecture of the origin of
the heat ray...
you, Professor Pierson. Ladies and gentlemen, here is a bulletin
from Trenton. It is a brief statement informing us that the charred
body of Carl Phillips has been identified in a Trenton hospital.
Now here's another bulletin from Washington, D.C. The office of
the director of the National Red Cross reports ten units of Red
Cross emergency workers have been assigned to the headquarters of
the state militia stationed outside Grovers Mill, New Jersey. Here's
a bulletin from state police, Princeton Junction: The fires at Grovers
Mill and vicinity are now under control. Scouts report all quiet
in the pit, and there is no sign of life appearing from the mouth
of the cylinder... And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have a special
statement from Mr. Harry McDonald, vice-president in charge of operations.
have received a request from the state militia at Trenton to place
at their disposal our entire broadcasting facilities. In view of
the gravity of the situation, and believing that radio has a responsibility
to serve in the public interest at all times, we are turning over
our facilities to the state militia at Trenton.
We take you now to the field headquarters of the state militia near
Grovers Mill, New Jersey.
is Captain Lansing of the signal corps, attached to the state militia,
now engaged in military operations in the vicinity of Grovers Mill.
Situation arising from the reported presence of certain individuals
of unidentified nature is now under complete control. The cylindrical
object which lies in a pit directly below our position is surrounded
on all sides by eight battalions of infantry. Without heavy field
pieces, but adequately armed with rifles and machine guns. All cause
for alarm, if such cause ever existed, is now entirely unjustified.
The things, whatever they are, do not even venture to poke their
heads above the pit. I can see their hiding place plainly in the
glare of the searchlights here. With all their reported resources,
these creatures can scarcely stand up against heavy machine-gun
fire. Anyway, it's an interesting outing for the troops. I can make
out their khaki uniforms, crossing back and forth in front of the
lights. It looks almost like a real war. There appears to be some
slight smoke in the woods bordering the Millstone River. Probably
fire started by campers. Well, we ought to see some action soon.
One of the companies is deploying on the left flank. A quick thrust
and it will all be over. Now wait a minute! I see something on top
of the cylinder. No, it's nothing but a shadow. Now the troops are
on the edge of the Wilmuth farm. Seven thousand armed men closing
in on an old metal tube. A tub rather. Wait, that wasn't a shadow!
It's something moving... solid metal... kind of a shield like affair
rising up out of the cylinder... It's going higher and higher. Why,
it's standing on legs... actually rearing up on a sort of metal
framework. Now it's reaching above the trees and the searchlights
are on it. Hold on!
and gentlemen, I have a grave announcement to make. Incredible as
it may seem, both the observations of science and the evidence of
our eyes lead to the inescapable assumption that those strange beings
who landed in the Jersey farmlands tonight are the vanguard of an
invading army from the planet Mars. The battle which took place
tonight at Grovers Mill has ended in one of the most startling defeats
ever suffered by an army in modern times; seven thousand men armed
with rifles and machine guns pitted against a single fighting machine
of the invaders from Mars. One hundred and twenty known survivors.
The rest strewn over the battle area from Grovers Mill to Plainsboro,
crushed and trampled to death under the metal feet of the monster,
or burned to cinders by its heat ray. The monster is now in control
of the middle section of New Jersey and has effectively cut the
state through its center. Communication lines are down from Pennsylvania
to the Atlantic Ocean. Railroad tracks are torn and service from
New York to Philadelphia discontinued except routing some of the
trains through Allentown and Phoenixville. Highways to the north,
south, and west are clogged with frantic human traffic. Police and
army reserves are unable to control the mad flight. By morning the
fugitives will have swelled Philadelphia, Camden, and Trenton, it
is estimated, to twice their normal population. Martial law prevails
throughout New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. At this time we
take you to Washington for a special broadcast on the National Emergency...
the Secretary of the Interior...
OF THE INTERIOR
of the nation: I shall not try to conceal the gravity of the situation
that confronts the country, nor the concern of your government in
protecting the lives and property of its people. However, I wish
to impress upon you Ñ private citizens and public officials, all
of you Ñ the urgent need of calm and resourceful action. Fortunately,
this formidable enemy is still confined to a comparatively small
area, and we may place our faith in the military forces to keep
them there. In the meantime placing our faith in God we must continue
the performance of our duties each and every one of us, so that
we may confront this destructive adversary with a nation united,
courageous, and consecrated to the preservation of human supremacy
on this earth. I thank you.
have just heard the secretary of the Interior speaking from Washington.
Bulletins too numerous to read are piling up in the studio here.
We are informed the central portion of New Jersey is blacked out
from radio communication due to the effect of the heat ray upon
power lines and electrical equipment. Here is a special bulletin
New York. Cables have been received from English, French, and German
scientific bodies offering assistance. Astronomers report continued
gas outbursts at regular intervals on the planet Mars. The majority
voice the opinion that the enemy will be reinforced by additional
rocket machines. There have been several attempts made to locate
Professor Pierson of Princeton, who has observed Martians at close
range. It is feared he was lost in the recent battle. Langham Field,
Virginia: Scouting planes report three Martian machines visible
above treetops, moving north towards Somerville with population
fleeing ahead of them. The heat ray is not in use; although advancing
at express-train speed, invaders pick their way carefully. They
seem to be making a conscious effort to avoid destruction of cities
and countryside. However, they stop to uproot power lines, bridges,
and railroad tracks. Their apparent objective is to crush resistance,
paralyze communication, and disorganize human society. Here is a
bulletin from Basking Ridge, New Jersey: Coon hunters have stumbled
on a second cylinder similar to the first embedded in the great
swamp twenty miles south of Morristown. Army fieldpieces are proceeding
from Newark to blow up second invading unit before cylinder can
be opened and the fighting machine rigged. They are taking up a
position in the foothills of Watchung Mountains. Another bulletin
from Langham Field, Virginia: Scouting planes report enemy machines,
now three in number, increasing speed northward kicking over houses
and trees in their evident haste to form a conjunction with their
allies south of Morristown. Machines also sighted by telephone operator
east of Middlesex within ten miles of Plainfield. Here's a bulletin
from Winston Field, Long Island: A fleet of army bombers carrying
heavy explosives flying north in pursuit of enemy. Scouting planes
act as guides. They keep the speeding enemy in sight. Just a moment
please, ladies and gentlemen. We've er... We've run special wires
to the artillery line in adjacent villages to give you direct reports
in the zone of the advancing enemy. First we take you to the battery
of the 22nd Field Artillery, located in the Watchtung Mountains.
OF HEAVY GUN... PAUSE)
hundred and forty yards to the right, sir.
range... thirty-one meters.
OF HEAVY GUN... PAUSE)
hit, sir! We got the tripod of one of them. They've stopped. The
others are trying to repair it.
get the range! Shift thirty meters.
OF HEAVY GUN... PAUSE)
see the shell land, sir. They're letting off a smoke.
black smoke, sir. Moving this way. Lying close to the ground. It's
on gas masks.
VOICES NOW MUFFLED)
ready to fire. Shift to twenty-four meters.
can't see, sir. The smoke's coming nearer.
TO SOUND OF AIRPLANE MOTOR)
bombing plane, V-8-43, off Bayonne, New Jersey, Lieutenant Voght,
commanding eight bombers. Reporting to Commander Fairfax, Langham
Field... This is Voght, reporting to Commander Fairfax, Langham
Field... Enemy tripod machines now in sight. Reinforced by three
machines from the Morristown cylinder... Six altogether. One machine
partially crippled. Believed hit by a shell from army gun in Watchung
Mountains. Guns now appear silent. A heavy black fog hanging close
to the earth... of extreme density, nature unknown. No sign of heat
ray. Enemy now turns east, crossing Passaic River into the Jersey
marshes. Another straddles the Pulaski Skyway. Evident objective
is New York City. They're pushing down a high tension power station.
The machines are close together now, and we're ready to attack.
Planes circling, ready to strike. A thousand yards and we'll be
over the first Ñ eight hundred yards... six hundred... four hundred...
two hundred... There they go! The giant arm raised...
OF HEAT RAY)
flash! They're spraying us with flame! Two thousand feet. Engines
are giving out. No chance to release bombs. Only one thing left...
drop on them, plane and all. We're diving on the first one. Now
the engine's gone! Eight...
is Bayonne, New Jersey, calling Langham Field... This is Bayonne,
New Jersey, calling Langham Field... Come in, please...
is Langham Field... Go ahead...
army bombers in engagement with enemy tripod machines over Jersey
flats. Engines incapacitated by heat ray. All crashed. One enemy
machine destroyed. Enemy now discharging heavy black smoke in direction
is Newark, New Jersey... This is Newark, New Jersey... Warning!
Poisonous black smoke pouring in from Jersey marshes. Reaches South
Street. Gas masks useless. Urge population to move into open spaces...
automobiles use Routes 7, 23, 24... Avoid congested areas. Smoke
now spreading over Raymond Boulevard...
calling CQ... 2X2L... calling CQ... 2X2L... calling 8X3R... Come
is 8X3R... coming back at 2X2L.
reception? How's reception? K, please
are you, 8X3R? What's the matter? Where are you?
RINGING OVER CITY GRADUALLY DIMINISHING)
speaking from the roof of Broadcasting Building, New York City...
I'm speaking from the roof of Broadcasting Building, New York City.
The bells you hear are ringing to warn the people to evacuate the
city as the Martians approach. Estimated in last two hours three
million people have moved out along the roads to the north... Hutchison
River Parkway still kept open for motor traffic. Avoid bridges to
Long Island... hopelessly jammed. All communication with Jersey
shore closed ten minutes ago. No more defenses. Our army is... wiped
out... artillery, air force, everything wiped out. This may be the
last broadcast. We'll stay here to the end...
People are holding service here below us... in the cathedral.
OF BOAT WHISTLES)
I look down the harbor. All manner of boats, overloaded with fleeing
population, pulling out from docks. Streets are all jammed. Noise
in crowds like New Year's Eve in city. Wait a minute... The... the
enemy is now in sight above the Palisades. Five Ñ five great machines.
First one is crossing the river. I can see it from here, wading...
wading the Hudson like a man wading through a brook... A bulletin
is handed me... Martian cylinders are falling all over the country.
One outside of Buffalo, one in Chicago... St. Louis... seem to be
timed and spaced... Now the first machine reaches the shore. He
stands watching, looking over the city. His steel, cowlish head
is even with the skyscrapers. He waits for the others. They rise
like a line of new towers on the city's west side... Now they're
lifting their metal hands. This is the end now. Smoke comes out...
black smoke, drifting over the city. People in the streets see it
now. They're running towards the East River... thousands of them,
dropping in like rats. Now the smoke's spreading faster. It's reached
Times Square. People are trying to run away from it, but it's no
use. They're falling like flies. Now the smoke's crossing Sixth
Avenue... Fifth Avenue... a... a hundred yards away... it's fifty
OF CITY IN TURMOIL, FOGHORNS, WHISTLES... )
calling CQ... 2X2L calling CQ... 2X2L calling CQ... New York. Isn't
there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there
THE ACTUAL RADIO PLAY)
are listening to a CBS presentation of Orson Welles and the Mercury
Theatre on the Air in an original dramatization of "The War of the
Worlds" by H. G. Wells. The performance will continue after a brief
intermission. This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.
I set down these notes on paper, I'm obsessed by the thought that
I may be the last living man on Earth. I have been hiding in this
empty house near Grovers Mill Ñ a small island of daylight cut off
by the black smoke from the rest of the world. All that happened
before the arrival of these monstrous creatures in the world now
seems part of another life... a life that has no continuity with
the present, furtive existence of the lonely derelict who pencils
these words on the back of some astronomical notes bearing the signature
of Richard Pierson. I look down at my blackened hands, my torn shoes,
my tattered clothes, and I... try to connect them with a professor
who lives at Princeton, and who on the night of October 30th, glimpsed
through his telescope an orange splash of light on a distant planet.
My wife, my colleagues, my students, my books, my observatory, my...
my world... where are they? Did they ever exist? Am I Richard Pierson?
What day is it? Do days exist without calendars? Does time pass
when there are no human hands left to wind the clocks?... In writing
down my daily life I tell myself I shall preserve human history
between the dark covers of this little book that was meant to record
the movements of the stars, but... to write I must live, and to
live, I must eat... I find moldy bread in the kitchen, and an orange
not too spoiled to swallow. I keep watch at the window. From time
to time I catch sight of a... Martian above the black smoke. The
smoke still holds the house in its black coil, but... at length
there is a hissing sound and suddenly I see a Martian mounted on
his machine, spraying the air with a jet of steam, as if to dissipate
the smoke. I watch in a corner as his huge metal legs nearly brush
against the house. Exhausted by terror, I fall asleep... it's morning...
Sun streams in the window. The black cloud of gas has lifted, and
the scorched meadows to the north look as though a black snowstorm
has passed over them. I venture from the house. I make my way to
a road. No traffic. Here and there a wrecked car, baggage overturned,
a blackened skeleton. I push on north. For some reason I feel safer
trailing these monsters than running away from them. And I keep
a careful watch. I have seen the Martians... feed. Should one of
their machines appear over the top of trees, I am ready to fling
myself flat on the earth. I come to a chestnut tree. October...
chestnuts are ripe. I fill my pockets. I must keep alive. Two days
I wander in a vague northerly direction through a desolate world.
Finally I notice a living creature... a small red squirrel in a
beech tree. I stare at him, and wonder. He stares back at me. I
believe at that moment the animal and I shared the same emotion.
. .the joy of finding another living being. I push on north. I...
find dead cows in a brackish field, and beyond the charred ruins
of a dairy, the silo remains standing guard over the waste land
like a lighthouse deserted by the sea. Astride the silo perches
a weathercock. The arrow points north. Next day I come to a city...
a city vaguely familiar in its contours, yet its buildings strangely
dwarfed and leveled off, as if a giant had sliced off its highest
towers with a capricious sweep of his hand. I reached the outskirts.
I found Newark, undemolished, but humbled by some whim of the advancing
Martians. Presently, with an odd feeling of being watched, I caught
sight of something crouching in a doorway. I made a step towards
it... it rose up and became a man! Ñ a man, armed with a large knife.
do you come from?
come from... from many places! A long time ago from Princeton.
huh? That's near Grovers Mill!
AS AT A GREAT JOKE, THEN SOUNDS ANGRY)
no food here! This is my country... all this end of town down to
the river. There's only food for one... Which way are you going?
don't know. I guess I'm looking for Ñ for people.
What was that? Did you hear something just then?
only a bird... (AMAZED) A live bird!
You get to know that birds have shadows these days... Hey, we're
in the open here. Let's crawl in this doorway here and talk.
you seen any... Martians?
They've gone over to New York. At night the sky is alive with their
lights. Just as if people were still livin' in it. By daylight you
can't see them. Five days ago a couple of them carried somethin'
big across the flats from the airport. I think they're learning
how to fly.
it's all over with humanity. Stranger, there's still you and I.
Two of us left.
They got themselves in solid; they wrecked the greatest country
in the world. Those green stars, they're probably falling somewhere
every night. They've only lost one machine. There isn't anything
to do. We're done. We're licked.
were you? You're in a uniform. STRANGER Yeah, what's left of it.
I was in the militia Ñ National Guard?... Heh! That's good! There
wasn't any war... any more than there's war between men and ants!
but we're... eatable ants! I found that out... What'll they do with
thought it all out. Right now we're caught as we're wanted. The
Martian only has to go a few miles to get a crowd on the run. But
they won't keep on doing that. They'll begin catching us systematic-like
Ñ keeping the best and storing us in cages and things. They haven't
begun on us yet!
begun! All that's happened so far is because we don't have sense
enough to keep quiet... botherin' them with guns and such stuff
and losing our heads and rushing off in crowds. Now instead of our
rushing around blind we've got to fix ourselves up Ñ fix ourselves
up according to the way things are NOW. Cities, nations, civilization,
but if that's so... what is there to live for?
there won't be any more concerts for a million years or so, and
no nice little dinners at restaurants. If it's amusement you're
after, I guess the game's up. PROF. PIERSON What is there left?
That's what! I want to live. Yeah, and so do you. We're not going
to be exterminated. And I don't mean to be caught, either! Tamed,
and fattened, and bred, like an ox!
are you going to do?
going on... right under their feet. I got a plan. We men as men
are finished. We don't know enough. We gotta learn plenty before
we've got a chance. And we've got to live and keep free while we
learn, see? I've thought it all out, see.
me the rest.
it isn't all of us that are made for wild beasts, and that's what
it's got to be! That's why I watched you... watched YOU. All these
little office workers that used to live in these houses Ñ they'd
be no good. They haven't any stuff in 'em. They used to run... run
off to work. I've seen hundreds of 'em, running to catch their commuter's
train in the morning afraid they'd be canned if they didn't; running
back at night afraid they won't be in time for dinner. Lives insured
and a little invested in case of accidents. Yeah, and on Sundays,
worried about the hereafter. The Martians will be a godsend for
those guys. Nice roomy cages, good food, careful breeding, no worries.
Yeah, after a week or so chasing about the fields on empty stomachs
they'll come and be glad to be caught.
thought it all out, haven't you?
you bet I have! That isn't all. These Martians, they're going to
make pets of some of 'em, train 'em to do tricks. Who knows? Get
sentimental over the pet boy who grew up and had to be killed...
Yeah... and some, maybe, they'll train to hunt us! PROF. PIERSON
No, that's impossible. No human being...
they will. There's men who'll do it gladly. If one of them ever
comes after me, why...
the meantime... you and I and others like us... where are we to
live when the Martians own the earth?
got it all figured out. We'll live underground. I've been thinking
about the sewers. Under New York there are miles and miles of 'em.
The main ones are big enough for anybody. And there's cellars, vaults,
underground storerooms, railway tunnels, subways... You begin to
see, eh? We'll get a bunch of strong men together. No weak ones;
that rubbish Ñ out!
you meant me to go?
I... gave you a chance, didn't I?
won't quarrel about that. Go on.
we've got to make safe places for us to stay in, see? Get all the
books we can... science books. That's where men like you come in,
see? We'll raid the museums, we'll even spy on the Martians. It
may not be so much we have to learn before Ñ listen, just imagine
this four or five of their own fighting machines suddenly start
off Ñ heat rays right and left and not a Martian in 'em. Not a Martian
in 'em, see? But MEN Ñ men who've learned the way how. It may even
be in our time. Gee! Imagine having one of them lovely things with
a heat ray wide and free! We'd turn it on Martians, we'd turn it
on men. We'd bring everybody down on their knees!
You, me, and a few more of us... we'd own the world!
hey, what's the matter?... Where are you going?
to your world! Bye, stranger...
after parting with the artilleryman, I came at last to the Holland
Tunnel. I entered that silent tube anxious to know the fate of the
great city on the other side of the Hudson. Cautiously I came out
of the tunnel and made my way up Canal Street. I reached Fourteenth
Street, and there again were black powder and several bodies, and
an evil ominous smell from the gratings of the cellars of some of
the houses. I wandered up through the Thirties and Forties; I stood
alone on Times Square. I caught sight of a lean dog running down
Seventh Avenue with a piece of dark brown meat in his jaws, and
a pack of starving mongrels at his heels. He made a wide circle
around me, as though he feared I might prove a fresh competitor.
I walked up Broadway in the direction of that strange powder Ñ past
silent shop windows, displaying their mute wares to empty sidewalks
Ñ past the Capitol Theatre, silent, dark Ñ past a shooting gallery,
where a row of empty guns faced an arrested line of wooden ducks.
Near Columbus Circle I noticed models of 1939 motorcars in the showrooms
facing empty streets. From over the top of the General Motors Building,
I watched a flock of black birds circling in the sky. I hurried
I caught sight of the hood of a Martian machine, standing somewhere
in Central Park, gleaming in the late afternoon sun. An insane idea!
I rushed recklessly across Columbus Circle and into the Park. I
climbed a small hill above the pond at Sixtieth Street and from
there I could see, standing in a silent row along the mall, nineteen
of those great metal Titans, their cowls empty, their steel arms
hanging listlessly by their sides. I looked in vain for the monsters
that inhabit those machines. Suddenly, my eyes were attracted to
the immense flock of black birds that hovered directly below me.
They circled to the ground, and there before my eyes, stark and
silent, lay the Martians, with the hungry birds pecking and tearing
brown shreds of flesh from their dead bodies. Later when their bodies
were examined in the laboratories, it was found that they were killed
by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems
were unprepared... slain, after all man's defenses had failed, by
the humblest thing that God in His wisdom has put upon this earth.
the cylinder fell there was a general persuasion that through all
the deep of space no life existed beyond the petty surface of our
minute sphere. Now we see further. Dim and wonderful is the vision
I have conjured up in my mind of life spreading slowly from this
little seedbed of the solar system throughout the inanimate vastnesses
of sidereal space, but... that's a remote dream. It may be that
the destruction of the Martians is only a reprieve. To them, and
not to us, is the future ordained perhaps.
it now seems to sit in my peaceful study at Princeton writing down
this last chapter of the record begun at a deserted farm in Grovers
Mill. Strange to watch children... playing in the streets. Strange
to see young people strolling on the green, where the new spring
grass heals the last black scars of a bruised earth. Strange to
watch the sightseers enter the museum where the dissembled parts
of a Martian machine are kept on public view. Strange when I recall
the time when I first saw it, bright and clean-cut, hard, and silent,
under the dawn of that last great day...
SWELLS UP AND OUT)
is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure
you that "The War of The Worlds" has no further significance than
as the holiday offering it was intended to be. The Mercury Theatre's
own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a
bush and saying Boo! Starting now, we couldn't soap all your windows
and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night... so we did the
best next thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears,
and utterly destroyed the C.ÊB.ÊS. You will be relieved, I hope,
to learn that we didn't mean it, and that both institutions are
still open for business. So goodbye everybody, and remember please,
for the next day or so, the terrible lesson you learned tonight.
That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is
an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and
nobody's there, that was no Martian... it's Halloween.
THEATRE THEME UP FULL, THEN DOWN)
the Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations coast-to-coast
have brought you "The War of the Worlds," by H. G. Wells, the seventeenth
in its weekly series of dramatic broadcasts featuring Orson Welles
and the Mercury Theatre on the Air. Next week we present a dramatization
of three famous short stories. This is the Columbia Broadcasting