Gather the household around, dim the lights, click here — then sit back and enjoy the radio theater of Orson Welles.

This week — “The Pickwick Papers” . . .

This adaptation of the Dickens classic concluded the first season of Welles's Mercury Theater On the Air.  Welles's radio show had initially been offered by CBS as a “sustaining program”, that is, without sponsorship, as a prestige project for the network and its affiliates, but Welles's sensational “War Of the Worlds” broadcast, on 30 October 1938, gained the show national notoriety and a sponsor — Campbell's Soup.  In its second season, the show was renamed The Campbell Playhouse.

It was, under both names, one of the greatest achievements of the radio medium.

This show will only be on the site for a short while so download it if you can't listen to it right away, and if you've enjoyed these shows from the first season, check out the rest of Welles's remarkable work for radio, easily available today on the Internet.

[You can get more information on Welles's radio work and listen to or
download many of his broadcasts for free here — The Mercury Theater On the Air.  Many more broadcasts
can be downloaded for free at The Internet Archive
If you get hooked, you can buy a remarkable collection of almost all of
Welles' radio work, as both actor and director, in MP3 format on 7 CDs
at OTRCat — which also offers the discs separately.]


  1. (It's me the newcomer again! Forgive me for being so effusive about your blog but it's simply amazing!)I recall studying Citizen Kane in a film course in university and the professor had brought in a special film projector which allowed us to study the film frame-by-frame. I remember the scene where the young Kane hits George Koulouris who is about to take him off to the city. If you freeze the frame at some point during this sequence, you'll see the name of Kane's beloved sled is now “Crusader” instead of Rosebud. You probably already know about this but I thought I'd make a contribution too! Lastly, I understand Welles was interested in doing a film version of Conrad's “Heart of Darkness” but unfortunately this never came to fruition. I believe he wanted to use the camera as the “first-person eye” of the narrator to parallel the narrative method Conrad used in his novella. I wonder if this would have influenced Coppola's “Apocalypse Now”?

  2. Comments are always welcome and appreciated! I hadn't heard about the “Crusader” sled — I'll see if it's visible on a DVD. Welles did plan to make “Heart Of Darkness” as his first Hollywood film and got pretty far along in his preparation for it — including the idea of shooting much of it from the POV of the narrator. Not sure how this might have influenced Coppola, but Coppola would certainly have known of Welles's interest in the story.

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