Recently, the OTR Digest mailing list has been buzzing with a discussion about what, on the surface, sounds like an alternate performance of "The War of the Worlds" that has been unearthed on a tape. Some conjectured initially that it might have been a repeat performance for the West coast feed of the "Mercury Theater" or a rehearsal recording.
Charlie Summer has made this "alternate" version available on his blog:
However, if you listen closely, it's the well-known recording of the program that has been edited.
In the first few minutes, I can hear that the surface noise is the same, but there's quite a bit of editing going on - the musical passages are shortened, pauses that Welles does in the intro are shortened, and the sound seems to be faded in and out to take out the discs surface noise in between phrases of speech.
Why in the world would anyone bother creating an edited version of the program?
I seem to recall, deep from the recesses of my brain, hearing WoW on some documentary or movie that was edited this way.
Was this prepared for use on a movie or tv production where characters were listening to the show? That would make sense - the director might have wanted to give the impression of listening to the "live" broadcast, trying to eliminate as much of the surface noise as possible and to take out "dead" air or "flubs" that would have been distracting to the drama of the film?
That's my new theory about this mysterious recording - it's from some documentary or movie. Editing the music would make sense in this situation, since the director or editor would have been trying to match narration or scenes with actors to timing of the "War of the Worlds" show or vice versa.
Anyone have a copy of Ken Burns's "Empire of the Airwaves", that tv movie about the "War of the Worlds" broadcast or other films where it was used to compare?