“Small wonder they feel fear…
presentiments that let the living on their bed sleep on
woke dead men out of death… and gave them voices!”
What does it mean to be the best?
To be the best of an entire medium? What does it mean?
And heavy the head, that must make that call.
What is the single best television show of all time? Difficult question.
Single best movie? even more difficult question.
Single best song? Impossible decision to make, right.
So why is it, if you ask me the single greatest OTR (Old Time Radio)/radio program ever produced… I have no trouble, what so ever, coming up with a name.
FALL OF THE CITY.
I’ve listened to both of the ‘original’ audio versions of this great Archibald MacLeish teleplay, FALL OF THE CITY. The 1937 one with Orson Welles as the announcer, and the 1939 with Burgess Meredith as the announcer.
I haven’t listened to ALL audio drama, being a relative young’un, probably not as much as a few of you reading this, though that said I am quite compulsive, and a bit single minded, so I tend to power listen through whole libraries of shows, so I’ve listened to a lot of shows, thousands upon thousands of shows easily, a nice cross section. More than most of you reading this.
So what I say next, I say taking all those thousands of shows into consideration…
Of all those shows, from Shadow to Columbia Workshop to Mercury Theater to Inner Sanctum to Escape to Suspense to Holmes to Dimension X to Lights Out, etc, etc….
Of all those shows, If you were to tell me I could only save one show, just one example of OTR to pass on to a future generation, a horrible thing to tell anyone, but if that’s my choice…. my cross to bear so to speak 🙂
I would choose the 1937 Orson Welles announcer/narrated FALL OF THE CITY (blows away the 1939 Meredith announcer one).
That’s how important and powerful a bit of work it has always struck me as…
It is ever a cautionary tale, that is ever timely, ever… relevant.
Listen for yourself… and decide. 🙂
1937 FALL OF THE CITY (It’s an OGG file, better than MP3, and playable by better programs everywhere.VLC media player for one, will play it with no problem)
THE VOICE OF THE ANNOUNCER:
The sun is yellow with smoke. . . . the town’s burning. . . .
The war’s at the broken bridge.
THE VOICE OF THE GENERAL: (Shouting)
You! Are you free? Will you fight?
There are still inches for fighting!
There is still a niche in the streets!
You can stand on the stairs and meet him!
You can hold in the dark of a hall!
You can die!
. . . or your children will crawl for it!
THE VOICE OF THE ANNOUNCER: (Over the tumult)
They won’t listen. They’re shouting and screaming and circling.
The square is full of deserters with more coming.
Every street from the bridge is full of deserters.
They’re rolling in with the smoke blowing behind them.
The plaza’s choked with the smoke and the struggling of stragglers.
They’re climbing the platform: driving the ministers: shouting . . .
One speaks and another . . .