COLUMBIA BROADCASTING SYSTEM
ORSON WELLES AND MERCURY THEATRE ON THE AIR
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1938
8:00 TO 9:00 P.M.
The 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.
MUSIC: MERCURY THEATRE MUSICAL THEME
Ladies and gentlemen: the director of
the Mercury Theatre and star of these
broadcasts, Orson Welles...
We 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
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. It 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 30, the Crosley
service estimated that thirty-two
million people were listening in on
...for 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 now
take you to the Meridian Room in the
Hotel Park Plaza in downtown New
York, where you will be entertained
by the music of Ramón Raquello and
MUSIC: SPANISH THEME SONG [A TANGO]... FADES
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
From the Meridian Room in the Park
Plaza in New York City, we bring you
the music of Ramón Raquello and his
orchestra. With a touch of the
Spanish. Ramón Raquello leads off
with "La Cumparsita."
PIECE STARTS PLAYING
Ladies 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. The 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 Ramón Raquello, playing
for you in the Meridian Room of the
Park Plaza Hotel, situated in
downtown New York.
MUSIC PLAYS FOR A FEW MOMENTS UNTIL PIECE ENDS... SOUND OF
Now a tune that never loses favor,
the ever-popular "Star Dust." Ramón
Raquello and his orchestra...
Ladies 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 noted
astronomer, Professor Pierson, who
will give us his views on the 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 Ramón
Raquello and his orchestra.
We are now ready 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.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
This is Carl Phillips, speaking to
you from the observatory at
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 a 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.
Professor, would you please tell our
radio audience exactly what you see
as you observe the planet Mars
through your telescope?
Nothing 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
In your opinion, what do these
transverse stripes signify, Professor
Not canals, I can assure you, Mr.
Phillips, 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?
I'd say the chances against it are a
thousand to one.
And yet how do you account for those
gas eruptions occurring on the
surface of the planet at regular
Mr. Phillips, I cannot account for
By the way, Professor, for the
benefit of our listeners, how far is
Mars from the earth?
Approximately forty million miles.
Well, that seems a safe enough
Just 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... 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?
Certainly, Mr. Phillips
Ladies 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.M. 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 Mars?
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.
Thank 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
FADE IN PIANO PLAYING
Ladies 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. M.
and 9:20 P. M., 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.M. 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. The 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. We have dispatched a
special mobile unit to the scene, and
will have our commentator, Carl
Phillips, give you a word picture 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.
SWING BAND FOR TWENTY SECONDS... THEN CUT
We take you now to Grovers Mill, New
CROWD NOISES... POLICE SIRENS
Ladies and gentlemen, this is Carl
Phillips again, at the Wilmuth farm,
Grovers Mill, New Jersey. Professor
Pierson and myself made the eleven
miles from Princeton in ten minutes.
Well, I... 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?
What would you say... what is the
About thirty yards.
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?
One side, there, one side.
While 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.
Well, I was listenin' to the radio.
Closer and louder please.
Louder, please, and closer.
Yes, sir -- while I was listening to
the radio and kinda drowsin', that
Professor fellow was talkin' about
Mars, so I was half dozin' and
Yes, yes, Mr. Wilmuth. Then what
As I was sayin', I was listenin' to
the radio kinda halfways...
Yes, Mr. Wilmuth, and then you saw
Not first off. I heard something.
And what did you hear?
A hissing sound. Like this:
sssssss... kinda like a fourt' of
Turned my head out the window and
would have swore I was to sleep and
I seen a kinda greenish streak and
then zingo! Somethin' smacked the
ground. Knocked me clear out of my
Well, were you frightened, Mr.
Well, I -- I ain't quite sure. I
reckon I -- I was kinda riled.
Thank you, Mr. Wilmuth. Thank you
Want me to tell you some more?
No... 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. Police are
trying to rope off the roadway
leading to the farm. But it's no use.
They're breaking right through. Cars'
headlights throw an enormous spot on
the pit where the object's half
buried. Some of the more daring souls
are now venturing near the edge.
Their silhouettes stand out against
the metal sheen.
(FAINT HUMMING SOUND)
One 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
Do you hear it? It's a curious
humming sound that seems to come from
inside the object. I'll move the
Now we're not more then twenty-five
feet away. Can you hear it now? Oh,
Yes, Mr. Phillips?
Can you tell us the meaning of that
scraping noise inside the thing?
Possibly the unequal cooling of its
I see, do you still think it's a
I 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.
Just 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! The
thing must be hollow!
She's movin'! Look, the darn thing's
unscrewing! Keep back, there! Keep
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 idiots back!
SUDDENLY THE CLANKING SOUND OF A HUGE PIECE OF FALLING METAL
She's off! The top's loose! Look out
there! Stand back!
Ladies 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...
SHOUT OF AWE FROM THE CROWD
Good heavens, something's wriggling
out of the shadow like a gray snake.
Now it's another one, and another.
They look like tentacles to me.
There, I can see the thing's body.
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.
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 raising up. The crowd falls
back now. They've seen plenty. This
is the most extraordinary experience.
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
We are bringing you an eyewitness
account of what's happening on the
Wilmuth farm, Grovers Mill, New
We now return you to Carl Phillips at
Ladies and gentlemen (Am I on?).
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. 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. 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! Something's happening!
HISSING SOUND FOLLOWED BY A HUMMING THAT INCREASES IN
A 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
the mirror, and it leaps right at the
advancing men. It strikes them head
on! Good Lord, they're turning into
SCREAMS AND UNEARTHLY SHRIEKS
Now the whole field's caught fire.
The woods... the barns... the gas
tanks of automobiles... it's
spreading everywhere. It's coming
this way. About twenty yards to my
CRASH OF MICROPHONE... THEN DEAD SILENCE
Ladies 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 now continue with our
PIANO... THEN CUT
Ladies and gentlemen, I have just
been handed a message that came in
from Grovers Mill by telephone. Just
a moment. 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.
I 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 into their pit
and made no attempt to prevent the
efforts of the firemen to recover the
bodies and extinguish the fire.
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 -- just one moment please.
Ladies 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.
FEEDBACK. THEN FILTERED VOICE
Of the creatures in the rocket
cylinder at Grovers Mill, I can give
you no authoritative information --
either as 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 is my guess that in
some way they are able to generate an
intense heat in a chamber of
practically absolute nonconductivity.
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...
Thank 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. 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 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
We have received a request from the
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.
This 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. An 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.
Wait, that wasn't a shadow! It's
something moving... solid metal...
kind of shieldlike 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!
Ladies 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
any 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
Citizens 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 -- private citizens
and public officials, all of you --
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.
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 from New York.
Cables received from English, French,
German scientific bodies offering
assistance. Astronomers report
continued gas outbursts at regular
intervals on planet Mars. Majority
voice opinion that enemy will be
reinforced by additional rocket
machines. Attempts made to locate
Professor Pierson of Princeton, who
has observed Martians at close range.
It is feared he was lost in recent
battle. Langham Field, Virginia:
Scouting planes report three Martian
machines visible above treetops,
moving north towards Somerville with
population fleeing ahead of them.
Heat ray not in use; although
advancing at express-train speed,
invaders pick their way carefully.
They seem to be making 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 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: Fleet of army bombers
carrying heavy explosives flying
north in pursuit of enemy. Scouting
planes act as guides. They keep
speeding enemy in sight. Just a
moment please. Ladies and gentlemen,
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
Range, thirty-two meters.
Projection, thirty-nine degrees.
BOOM OF HEAVY GUN... PAUSE
One hundred and forty yards to the
Shift range... thirty-one meters.
Projection... thirty-seven degrees.
BOOM OF HEAVY GUN... PAUSE
A hit, sir! We got the tripod of one
of them. They've stopped. The others
are trying to repair it.
Quick, get the range! Shift thirty
Projection... twenty-seven degrees.
BOOM OF HEAVY GUN... PAUSE
Can't see the shell land, sir.
They're letting off a smoke.
What is it?
A black smoke, sir. Moving this way.
Lying close to the ground. It's
Put on gas masks.
(PAUSE. VOICES NOW
Get ready to fire. Shift twenty-four
Projection, twenty-four degrees.
Still can't see, sir. The smoke's
Get the range.
Projection, twenty-two degrees.
CUT TO SOUND OF AIRPLANE MOTOR
Army 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 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 --
eight hundred yards... six hundred...
four hundred... two hundred... There
they go! The giant arm raised...
(SOUND OF HEAT RAY)
Green 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!
(PLANE GOES DOWN)
This is Bayonne, New Jersey, calling
Langham Field... This is Bayonne, New
Jersey, calling Langham Field... Come
This is Langham Field... Go ahead...
Eight 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 of --
This 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...
2X2L... calling CQ... 2X2L... calling
CQ... 2X2L... calling 8X3R... Come
This is 8X3R... coming back at 2X2L.
How's reception? How's reception? K,
Where are you, 8X3R? What's the
matter? Where are you?
BELLS RINGING OVER CITY GRADUALLY DIMINISHING
I'm speaking from the roof of the
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 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
below us... in the cathedral.
(VOICES SINGING HYMN)
Now I look down the harbor. All
manner of boats, overloaded with
fleeing population, pulling out from
(SOUND OF BOAT WHISTLES)
Streets are all jammed. Noise in
crowds like New Year's Eve in city.
Wait a minute... Enemy now in sight
above the Palisades. Five -- five
great machines. First one is crossing
river. I can see it from here, wading
the Hudson like a man wading through
a brook... A bulletin's handed me...
Martian cylinders are falling all
over the country. One outside
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 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... one hundred yards
away... it's fifty feet...
2X2L 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
anyone... 2X2L --
You 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.
As 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 -- 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 30, 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...
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.
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 vaguely familiar in its
contours, yet its buildings strangely
dwarfed and leveled off, as if a
giant hand 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,
and it rose up and became a man! -- a
man, armed with a large knife.
Where did you come from?
I come from... many places. A long
time ago from Princeton.
Princeton, huh? That's near Grovers
(LAUGHS AS AT A GREAT
There's 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?
I don't know. I guess I'm looking for --
What was that? Did you hear something
Only a bird...
A live bird!
You get to know that birds have
shadows these days... Say, we're in
the open here. Let's crawl into this
doorway and talk.
Have you seen any... Martians?
Naah. 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 believe
they're learning how to fly.
Then 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.
Where were you? You're in a uniform.
Yeah, what's left of it. I was in the
militia -- national guard... That's
good! Wasn't any war any more than
there's war between men and ants.
And we're eat-able ants. I found that
out... What will they do with us?
I've 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 doing that. They'll begin
catching us systematic-like --
keeping the best and storing us in
cages and things. They haven't begun
on us yet!
Not 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 -- fix
ourselves up according to the way
things are NOW. Cities, nations,
civilization, progress... done.
But if that's so, what is there to
Well, 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.
And what is there left?
Life... 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, and tamed, and
fattened, and bred, like an ox.
What are you going to do?
I'm 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.
Tell me the rest.
Well, it isn't all of us that were
made for wild beasts, and that's what
it's got to be. That's why I watched
YOU. All these little office workers
that used to live in these houses --
they'd be no good. They haven't any
stuff to 'em. They just used to run
off to work. I've seen hundreds of
'em, running wild to catch their
commuter train in the morning for
fear they'd get 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. 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. After a
week or so chasing about the fields
on empty stomachs they'll come and be
glad to be caught.
You've thought it all out, haven't
You bet I have! And that isn't all.
These Martians will 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... And some, maybe, they'll
train to hunt us.
No, that's impossible. No human
Yes they will. There's men who'll do
it gladly. If one of them ever comes
after me, why...
In the meantime, you and I and others
like us... where are we to live when
the Martians own the earth?
I've got it all figured out. We'll
live underground. I've been thinking
about the sewers. Under New York are
miles and miles of 'em. The main ones
are big enough for anybody. Then
there's cellars, vaults, underground
storerooms, railway tunnels, subways.
You begin to see, eh? And we'll get a
bunch of strong men together. No weak
ones; that rubbish -- out.
And you meant me to go?
Well, I gave you a chance, didn't I?
We won't quarrel about that. Go on.
And we've got to make safe places for
us to stay in, see, and 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 -- just
imagine this: four or five of their
own fighting machines suddenly start
off -- heat rays right and left and
not a Martian in 'em. Not a Martian
in 'em! But MEN -- men who have
learned the way how. It may even be
in our time. Gee! Imagine having one
of them lovely things with its heat
ray wide and free! We'd turn it on
Martians, we'd turn it on men. We'd
bring everybody down to their knees.
That's your plan?
You, and me, and a few more of us
we'd own the world.
Say, what's the matter?... Where are
Not to your world... Goodbye,
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 -- past silent
shopwindows, displaying their mute
wares to empty sidewalks -- past the
Capitol Theatre, silent, dark -- 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 on. Suddenly 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. From
there I could see, standing in a
silent row along the mall, nineteen
of those great metal Titans, their
cowls empty, their great 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 put upon this
earth. Before 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 vastness of
sidereal space. But that is 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. Strange 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 see from my window the
university spires dim and blue
through an April haze. 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.
MUSIC SWELLS UP AND OUT
This 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.B.S. 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 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 Hallowe'en.
MERCURY THEATRE THEME UP FULL, THEN DOWN
Tonight 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
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