As you can probably tell by our catchall headline, we recently rummaged through our email bag and came up with some interesting reader correspondence — always welcome.

First, a couple of comments about our Jan. 17 blog asking if Orson Welles should have made a WAR OF THE WORLDS movie first.

We’re referring, of course, to his famous 1938 CBS radio broadcast based on the H.G. Welles sci-fi novel about an alien invasion of the earth, in this case Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. This faux news broadcast supposedly sent waves of panic nationwide, and was in any case memorably sensational. (The extent of the supposed post-broadcast hysteria is still being debated.)

We wrote that the vast majority of radio listeners that night tuned into a popular musical variety show on rival NBC featuring Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and a medley of the day’s hits delivered by Nelson Eddy.

But, we wrote, as Eddy launched into Song of the Vagabonds, listeners in droves flipped their dials with many landing on rival station CBS, which was airing what sounded like a popular dance program interrupted by increasingly disquieting news bulletins.  Something about mysterious objects moving toward earth from the direction of Mars.

Well in response to this assertion, we received this from Kit:

Patrice Messina wrote the following after listening to the broadcast: seems it wasn’t because of Nelson that the radio channels were switched to “War of the Worlds.”

Re: The Halloween Chase and Sanborn. Heard it last night and a historian pointed out that it was around 15 minutes into the Bergen program when Dorothy Lamour was to sing that listeners turned the dial.

So NOT when Nelson was singing! In fact he sang two songs back to back in about the first 3 to 5 minutes. Then he sang an aria toward the end of the hour long program. Am so happy they didn’t turn the dial when Nelson was singing! (The ratings for Chase & Sanborn had gone WAY up since Nelson Eddy joined the cast, and host Edgar Bergen had received a large raise in salary accordingly.)

And it turned out that wily Orson KNEW the program schedule and that listeners often switched stations when singing came on around 12 to 15 minutes into (the) Chase and Sanborn hour so (he) planned to have the fake news reports start around 15 minutes when he knew people would stumble into the program. He really did plan to cause a bit of panic for Halloween.

And where IS Grover’s Mill, anyway? This from  Ed Margerum formerly of Trenton N.J.

Grover’s Mill is only 11 miles from Trenton, not the 22 miles stated in your article.

OK, we record both comments for the record.  Thanks.

Regular reader Jeff Woodman provides the following in response to our July 11 blog, Remembering PAUL MAZURSKY, which favorably cites a number of his movies.

Of course, all the titles you gentlemen cited are worthwhile, but I’d like to put in a plug for Mazursky’s criminally underrated 1982 adaptation “Tempest,” based on the Shakespeare play.

A terrific film, with an incredible cast; John Cassavettes, Gena Rowlands, Susan Sarandon, Vittorio Gassman, Raul Julia, and Molly Ringwald (with a cameo by Mazursky himself).

Adapting Shakespeare is a tricky thing to pull off, but this film succeeds beautifully, my favorite moment being Cassavettes’ beautifully underplayed (especially for him!) summoning of the titular storm (“C’mon, show me the magic…”).

It did zero business at the time, but remains well worth a look today (and the locations are stunning).

Thanks, Jeff.


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