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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Take Us to Your Leader


Halloween Visitors to the Oval Office. Caroline Kennedy, President Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr. , in the White House Oval Office
: photo by Cecil Stoughton, Office of the Naval Aide to the President, 31 October 1963 (John F. Kennedy Library / US National Archives)

 Letter from Paul Morton, City Manager of Trenton, New Jersey, to the Federal Communications Commission, 31 October 1938 (US National Archives)

 Letter from J. V. Yaukey of Aberdeen, South Dakota, to the Federal Communications Commission, 1 November 1938 (US National Archives)

War of the Worlds premiere, The Odeon, Leicester Square. Upturned car in Leicester Square gardens, surrounded by unconvincing alien destruction
: photo by diamond geezer, 19 July 2005

The Woking Martian, Woking, UK. Each leg is 17 centimetres in diameter: photo by diamond geezer, 19 July 2005

The Woking Martian, Woking, UK. The sculpture is the artist's interpretation of "a walking engine of glittering metal": photo by diamond geezer, 19 July 2005


TC said...

The Night America Trembled: Edward R. Murrow on the 1938 Halloween broadcast of The War of the Worlds

ACravan said...

My earliest experience of War Of The Worlds was when I read the Classics Illustrated Comics version of it when I was a child. The story and the images terrified me and I guess I'm still terrified. I remember my father telling me about hearing it when he was a child. He said that his parents bundled him and his sister into the car to escape. Trenton wasn't that far away from where they lived. A couple of days ago I heard a wonderful, gripping Orson Welles radio performance of The Hitchhiker on the old Suspense series. In the "afterword," prior to a really masterful war bonds pitch contrasting the bonds you would be purchasing with those you would live under if Hitler won the war), Welles alluded to the War of the Worlds broadcast. I mentioned earlier that the giant windmills I saw in Massachusetts earlier this month seemed to be modeled on the War of the Worlds illustrations I saw so long ago. I cannot imagine why anyone would adopt that design and scale for any kind of machine in such proximity to people. They were ghastly. Funny to see the Kennedy children in that charming photo, including our new ambassador to Japan. I wish I could retain the pleasant memories and associations only and, as they say, hold back the night. Curtis

TC said...


A certain pall is cast over the maritime paraphernalia in the Oval Office when one pauses to consider that the happy Dad in the photo had at that moment barely three weeks to live.

We've had so many Wars of the Worlds over the years, but I don't think the gullibility of those who believed the Welles broadcast to be "real" can have been any greater than that of those who believed there was a WMD under every stone in Iraq.

Welles' own reaction to the storm was curious.

Orson Welles apologizes, sort of.

I agree that the Classic Comics versions of everything were more mysterious and compelling than the movie versions, because they left more to the imagination.

Still, sticking to the movies, I don't think the later remake of W of the W, for all its colossal erector-set special effects, was ever going to be a patch on the 1953 Hollywood "original".

Who will ever be able to forget one's silent questionings re the origins and agenda of those slinky Martian invaders -- or, of course, their effects on the youthful dream-life (back then, it seems one actually slept -- and dreamt!).

And what better way to entangle oneself in exciting irrational fear than to ponder mint-flavoured horror worlds where giant cobra-headed mechanical sting rays laden with ill intent slowly comb the ruins in search of terrorized survivors...

Nora said...

I just read an article arguing that the panic was largely manufactured by newspapers trying to discredit radio as a news medium. Of course, it may just be a website trying to discredit print media...

TC said...

Nora, somebody should tell Professor Jefferson Pooley of Muhlenberg College that Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction was itself a clever piece of Martian trickery.

Always up to some mischief, those naughty radio-wave-attuned, print-loving aliens!