The Man Who Was Thursday


Broadcast on:
September 5, 1938
Based on:
"The Man Who Was Thursday" by G. K. Chesterton (1908)
Man Who Was Thursday

"Will you swear by humanity, or whatever beastly thing you believe in...?"

Chesterton's wonderfully cryptic novel, a tale of anarchists and infiltrators, is a mystery in almost every sense of the word. Although Welles cut most of the novel's metaphysical elements, even this hour-long, pared down version poses as many questions as it answers, and the rather curious ending is entirely in keeping with the rattling anarchy which precedes it.

The quote from the small girl which forms part of Welles's introduction is "It must be wonderful to be famous", unfortunately the quote is cut from the most complete recording available. As with all of these recordings if anyone knows of, or has access to a better quality recording, please don't hesitate to get in touch.


The Novel

"The book ... was not intended to describe the real world as it was, or as I thought it was, even when my thoughts were considerably less settled than they are now. It was intended to describe the world of wild doubt and despair which the pessimists were generally describing at that date; with just a gleam of hope in some double meaning of the doubt, which even the pessimists felt in some fitful fashion" G. K. Chesterton, 1972.

Full Cast

Orson Welles, Eustace Wyatt, Edgar Barrier, Joseph Cotten, George Coulouris, Ray Collins, Paul Stewart, Erskine Sanford, Anna Stafford, Alan Devitt, and announcer Dan Seymour.

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Mercury Theatre

All eighteen surviving broadcasts from the Mercury Theatre on the Air, free to listen to and download.

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Les Miserables

Welles's interpretation of Hugo's epic tale, which inspired CBS to commission the Mercury Theatre.

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Original scripts, other Welles recordings, further reading and lots more besides.

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"We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone."

Orson Welles