20 user 7 critic

The Night That Panicked America (1975)

On October 30, 1938, Orson Welles's radio play "The War of the Worlds" accidentally provokes mass panic.


Joseph Sargent


Nicholas Meyer (teleplay), Anthony Wilson (teleplay) | 2 more credits »
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

Madie Levrington is a neurotic, wealthy woman who escapes from a New York mental institution where her unwholesome husband had her committed to avoid the trial of an expensive divorce. She ... See full summary »

Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: Dyan Cannon, Robert Blake, Quinn K. Redeker
Goldengirl (1979)
Drama | Sci-Fi | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  

A neo-Nazi doctor tries to make a superwoman of his daughter who has been specially fed, exercised, and conditioned since she was a child in preparation of the Olympics.

Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: Susan Anton, James Coburn, Curd Jürgens
The Great Houdini (TV Movie 1976)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A biography of the renowned escape artist Harry Houdini, examining his fascination with the occult and his promise to his wife on her deathbed that he would speak from the beyond.

Director: Melville Shavelson
Stars: Paul Michael Glaser, Sally Struthers, Ruth Gordon
Nightmares (1983)
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Anthology of four horror tales with a supernatural twist based on urban legends.

Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: Cristina Raines, Joe Lambie, Anthony James
The Immortal (1969–1971)
Action | Sci-Fi | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An immortal man whose blood can have miraculous health benefits is a fugitive from those who would exploit both him and his brother he seeks.

Stars: Christopher George, Don Knight, Barry Sullivan
Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A millionaire offers $10,000 to five people who agree to be locked in a large, spooky, rented house overnight with him and his wife.

Director: William Castle
Stars: Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Richard Long
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

In 1946 North Africa, two former US Air Force pilots are forced to work for an international smuggler to get money needed for their return to civilian life after fighting in World War II.

Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: Rod Taylor, Claudia Cardinale, Harry Guardino
Hustling (TV Movie 1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Based on Gail Sheehy's book, this film chronicles how a reporter for a New York City magazine decided to investigate the city's prostitution industry to find out just who was making all the... See full summary »

Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: Lee Remick, Monte Markham, Jill Clayburgh
The Man (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An African-American senator becomes the designated survivor of a tragic accident that kills the President of the United States. Now the first black President, he attempts to end the bigotry and divide standing in his way.

Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: James Earl Jones, Martin Balsam, Burgess Meredith
The Tribe (TV Movie 1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A Marine Corps drill instructor who is disgusted by the fact that the Corps now accepts draftees finds himself pitted against a hippie who has been drafted but refuses to accept the military's way of doing things.

Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: Darren McGavin, Earl Holliman, Jan-Michael Vincent
Of Pure Blood (TV Movie 1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Engrossing tale of a mother investigating her son's mysterious death and finding much more than she bargains for. While casting director Alicia Browning (Remick) takes leave of her job in ... See full summary »

Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: Lee Remick, Patrick McGoohan, Gottfried John
Comedy | Mystery | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A chicken hatchery owner (and novice private eye) tries to solve the arrow murder of local milkman, philanderer and animal fetishist.

Director: Dean Hargrove
Stars: Gabriel Dell, Will Geer, Anjanette Comer


Cast overview, first billed only:
Vic Morrow ... Hank Muldoon
Cliff De Young ... Stefan Grubowski
Michael Constantine ... Jess Wingate
Walter McGinn Walter McGinn ... Paul Stewart
Eileen Brennan ... Ann Muldoon
Meredith Baxter ... Linda Davis (as Meredith Baxter Birney)
Tom Bosley ... Norman Smith
Will Geer ... Reverend Davis
Paul Shenar ... Orson Welles
John Ritter ... Walter Wingate
Granville Van Dusen ... Carl Phillips
Burton Gilliam ... Tex
Joshua Bryant ... Howard Koch
Liam Dunn ... Charlie
Shelley Morrison ... Toni


The true story of the night that Orson Welles broadcast his version of 'H.G. Welles'' classic ''The War of the Worlds'' on the radio. Designed to be as realistic as possible, many people were fooled into thinking that an alien invasion was actually taking place. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

31 October 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Night the Martians Landed See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Apparently to save on royalties, the Paramount-owned "Cocktails for Two" is substituted for "Stardust" as "the tune that never loses favor" in the mock hotel orchestra broadcast. See more »


Welles was 23 when his "War of the Worlds" production aired. Paul Shenar was 39 when portraying Welles. See more »


Ora Nichols: [to her assistant, assessing the Mercury Theater's show] Looks like another big night for Charlie Mc Carthy.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Premiered om ABC-TV at two hours (with commercials). A subsequent network rebroadcast was cut to fit a ninety-minute time slot. Both versions later turned up in syndication. See more »


Moonlight and Shadows
Music by Friedrich Hollaender
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A Look At Both Mass Hysteria And Early Radio
30 October 2013 | by sddavis63See all my reviews

In October of 1938, the world was on the brink of war and in the midst of a depression. People were frightened about the present an frightened about the future. One part of this movie, at least, is about fear - the fear felt by people facing tough situations and how easy it is to tap into that fear.

"The Night That Panicked America" is the story (accurately told for the most part) of the night of October 30, 1938. The CBS Radio Network and Orson Welles broadcast their version of H.G. Wells' "The War Of The Worlds." Largely taking the form of news broadcasts, and with people tuning in and out and not necessarily catching the disclaimer at the start, panic began to spread, as people heard the fake news reports and actually believed that Martians were attacking. The portrayal of mass hysteria is very interesting; how easy it was to convince people that this was real was actually rather frightening. I've seen estimates that about 6 million people heard the broadcast, 1.7 million of them believed it and 1.2 million were actually very frightened by what they thought was happening. Fascinating to think how easily manipulated the masses could be by someone deliberately setting out to do it - and, in 1938, CBS wasn't setting out to manipulate; they were just setting out to entertain with a scary Halloween Eve broadcast. Fascinating.

The other interesting aspect of the movie is the technical side. It was also fascinating to see the re-creation of how a 1938 radio show was put together. That alone made this worthwhile viewing - especially to see what they did for something that we today would think of as being as simple as sound effects.

Is this is a great movie? Probably not. It's not exactly what I would call riveting. But it is a good look both at early radio and at the phenomenon of mass hysteria. (7/10)

2 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 20 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed