The Night America Trembled (1957)


The Night America Trembled is a top-rated television dramatisation of the public reaction to the 1938 radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” that aired on 09 September 1957, as an episode of the CBS series Studio One (Season 10, Episode 01).


The film centres on the panic created when The Mercury Theatre on the Air presented a radio adaptation of an 1897 H.G. Wells science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds.

In spite of many pre-broadcast promotions describing the play, and several statements during the programme itself, the 1938 broadcast, which featured simulated news reports, was taken seriously by a number of listeners, who thought an actual Martian invasion of Earth was taking place, and reacted in a doomsday fashion.

After the 1938 broadcast, some people were critical of Orson Welles for making the broadcast so realistic that some people thought it reflected actual events, but Welles maintained that radio melodrama was supposed to be realistic, over-the-top.

Welles said in a press conference the day following the broadcast that he anticipated it would generate reactions similar those when the radio series presented “Dracula”.

He thought the 19th-century story was so old that he might have trouble keeping the audience interested, and never thought anyone would think there was an actual Martian invasion going on.

The War of the Worlds Film, TV Series & Documentaries

You can find a full index here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director: Tom Donovan.
  • Producer: Gordon Duff.
  • Writer: Nelson S. Bond.
  • Music: Hank Sylvern.
  • Release Date: 09 September 1957.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

YouTube Link

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