Orson Welles WAR OF THE WORLDS script inspired Steven Spielberg’s movie
On June 2, 1994 Christies East in New York auctioned off a copy of Orson Welles original directors script for his famed radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. What I found interesting is that Steven Spielberg was the winning bidder for Welles script, adding it to his other collection of high-priced Orson Welles memorabilia, including, in what Welles considered a delicious irony, a FAKE copy of the Rosebud sled, which Spielberg had paid $60,000 to own.
I dont know the final cost Spielberg paid for the War of the Worlds radio script, but it was given a high pre-sale estimate by Christies of $20,000.
Buying Welles copy of the script was also Spielbergs impetus for making his own movie version of War of the Worlds in 2005. While doing interviews to promote his movie, Spielberg told Hotdog magazine: "If I could have, I would have begun this movie 12 years ago. I had bought at an auction the last surviving War Of The Worlds radio script and it was amazing, I guess you could say it was a distillation of the novel. I said, 'Oh man, this would make an amazing movie.' Then, when Independence Day came out I said, 'Well, maybe I won't make it,' because they kind of picked the bones off that and it put me off for a while. Then I got interested in it again just in the course of trying to find something to do with Tom Cruise.
Interestingly enough, Spielbergs own finished film bears very little resemblance to the original Welles radio script, even though Spielberg says he thought it would make an amazing movie. But he apparently did want his film version to inspire the same kind of reaction from movie watchers that Welles' radio broadcast had gotten from radio listeners.
Spielberg told the British magazine Empire, "If my movie is effective on audiences, hopefully they'll be looking all around the theatre for somewhere to hide! That would be my tribute to Orson Wellesif I was ever that lucky."
Here is the original Christies catalogue description of Welles copy of the script:
ORSON WELLES: Typescript radio play "The War of The Worlds," (New York, 1938).
45 pages - (8 x 10 in.) typed on one side only, some pages with original drawings by Welles in heavy pencil of faces and oddly alien creatures. In very fine condition.
Along with a letter written and signed to an unidentified correspondent by Orson Welles. No date, on original printed Mercury Theatre stationery, 8 x 10 inches.
In the letter Welles writes:
This is to certify that this is my own directorial copy of The War of The Worlds radio script. Needless to say I scarcely anticipated the reaction accorded what seemed to us to be a fairly routine hour radio show.
ORSON WELLES DIRECTORS TYPESCRIPT OF "THE WAR OF THE WORLDS"
Only one other copy is known to exist. On October 30, 1938 Orson Welles and The Mecury Theatre an the Air presented what listeners believed was a live performance of Ramon Raquello and his Orchestra. History was made that evening as the fictitious Intercontinental Radio News network interrupted with flash bulletins reporting terrifying, dramatic sightings of the dreaded Aliens from Mars. A nationwide panic ensued and Welles found himself at the center of what is still considered to be the most famous backfired hoax of all time. Numerous injuries due to the panic were reported and CBS and the New York City Police Department confiscated all copies of the script. Until now, writer Howard Koch's copy had been believed to be the only complete typescript in existence. Welles gave this script to a close associate of his for safekeeping.
The forty-five page script is annotated with drawings by Welles in heavy pencil, most of alien Martian images, according to the text. On the first page is a full page drawing of a robust man, signed in pencil at the bottom
Sale Estimate: $15,000-20,000