The Night That Panicked America is an American made-for-television drama film that was originally broadcast on the ABC network on October 31, 1975. The telefilm dramatizes events surrounding Orson Welles' famous - and infamous - War of the Worlds radio broadcast (based on the 1898 novel of the same name by English author H. G. Wells) of October 30, 1938, which had led some Americans to believe that an invasion by Martians was occurring in the area near Grover's Mill in West Windsor, New Jersey.
|The Night That Panicked America|
|Story by||Nicholas Meyer|
|Directed by||Joseph Sargent|
|Music by||Frank Comstock|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producer||Anthony Wilson|
|Production location||Los Angeles|
|Running time||92 minutes|
|Production companies||The Culzean Corporation|
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
The Night That Panicked America tells the story of the 1938 broadcast from the point of view of Welles and his associates as they create the broadcast live, as well as from the points of view of a number of different fictional American families, in a variety of locations and from a variety of social classes, who listened to the broadcast and believed the imaginary Martian invasion was actually occurring, with some people even committing suicide.
- Paul Shenar as Orson Welles
- Vic Morrow as Hank Muldoon, Ann's husband
- Eileen Brennan as Ann Muldoon, Hank's wife
- Cliff DeYoung as Stefan Grubowski
- Michael Constantine as Jess Wingate, Walter's father
- John Ritter as Walter Wingate, Jess' son
- Walter McGinn as Paul Stewart
- Will Geer as Reverend Davis, Linda's father
- Meredith Baxter as Linda Davis, the Reverend's daughter
- Tom Bosley as Norman Smith
- Casey Kasem as Mercury Theatre player
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction praised the film's recreation of events in the radio studio, but was unimpressed by its depiction of the resulting panic, calling it "a routine disaster movie with hackneyed characters reacting in predictable ways." Through the 1980s, some local stations in various areas of the United States made an annual tradition of rebroadcasting Night on October 30 (the anniversary of the original radio broadcast) or on October 31 (Halloween).
The film was released on DVD by CBS Home Entertainment on October 28, 2014.
- The War of the Worlds, 1898 novel by H. G. Wells
- List of American films of 1975
- The Night America Trembled - the earlier dramatization. The cast included Alexander Scourby, Ed Asner, and Warren Oates. James Coburn made his television debut, and, in one of his earliest acting roles, Warren Beatty appeared in the bit part of a card-playing college student.
- Hutchinson, Tom. "The Night that Panicked America" (review), RadioTimes. Retrieved December 24, 2018
- "Run! The Martians are coming! Relive the fear of years gone by tonight with War of the Worlds and The Night That Panicked America," Montreal Gazette, Sunday, October 27, 2013. Retrieved December 24, 2018
- The Night That Panicked America – Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved December 24, 2018