Watching Movies on Radio
in the Great Depression

As radio extended it's reach during the Depression, consolidating around a few new networks and a group of powerful metropolitan stations, it was also busy inventing the content of this new medium as well as a business model that would convert the public air waves into a corporate profits.

One of the innovations in this process was the development of something like what has come to be called cross platform marketing, the recycling of a product by exporting it from one medium to another. This happened in music, sports, print and drama. But it was especially prevalent in the exportation of material from film to radio -- and vice versa. Re-casting studio films as radio dramas was cheap and, by and large, profitable. They served as advertisements for the films and the studios that manufactured them, they yielded something like what we now know as residuals, and they both increased the web interconnecting the movie business and the manufacturers of other consumable goods and generally added to their own individual stocks of cultural capital.

These are but a few examples of this process.

Campbell Playhouse
produced by Orson Welles

Huck Finn
(1940) Novel by Mark Twain (1885)
Film with Jackie Coogan (1931)
Radio adaptationn with Jackie Cooper and Walter Catlett

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, (1940)
film directed by Frank Capra and starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur (1936)
Campbell Theatre version with Orson Welles and Gertrude Lawrence (1940)

The Glass Key
novel by Dashiell Hammett (1931)
Film version with George Raft and Edward Arnold (1935)
Adaptation for radio with Orson Welles (1939)

Cavalcade of America

The Green Pastures

Novel by Roark Bradford, Ol Man Adam and His Chillen (1928),
adapted as play, Green Pastures, by Mark Connely (1930),
Film version 1936,
first radio version Christmas eve 1940

Our Town
drama by Thornton Wilder (1938)
Campbell Playhouse adaption for radio (1939)
Film version with William Holden as the Stage Manager,
music by Aaron Copeland (1940)

It Happened One Night
film directed by Frank Capra starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colber (1934)
Campbell Theatre with William Powell and Meriam Hopkins (1939)

Ah! Wilderness
drama by Eugene O'Neill (1933)
Film version with Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore and Mickey Rooney (1935)
Radio adaptation by Campbell Playhouse (1939)

Lux Theatre
Cecil B. DeMille producer

Broadway drama by George Kaufmann and Mark Connelly (1921)
Film with Anne Southern and Ian Hunter (1940)
Adaptation for radio (1935)

The Jazz Singer
Film with Al Jolson and May McAvoy(1927)
Radio adaptation with Al Jolson and Gail Patrick (1936)

novel by Sinclair Lewis (1929),
film with Walter Huston and Ruth Chatterton (1936),
radio drama with Huston and Nan Suthrland (1937)
Radio adaptation (1937)

The Plainsman
Film directed by Cecil B. Demille with Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur (1936)
Radio adaptation with Frederick March and Jean Arthur (1937)

Mercury Theatre
produced and directed by Orson Welles

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