Radio Theater: Orson Welles in Dracula (7/11/1938)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021



Starring: Orson Welles, Elizabeth Fuller, George Colouris, Agnes Moorehead, Martin Gabel, Ray Collins, Karl Swenson 

Studio: Mercury Theatre on the Air 

Year: July 11, 1938 

My Rating★★★★ 

Available free from The Mercury Theatre on the Air (if you have trouble listening or downloading, you can also listen to it here on YouTube

The Mercury Theatre on the Air started its short but illustrious life with Dracula by Bram Stoker in July of 1938. Orson Welles could not have chosen a better story to launch this radio theatre to stardom although it would inevitably be War of the Worlds that would keep it famous.

Go to my Classic Hollywood page to find all my Classic Hollywood reviews!

While I have never actually read Dracula all the way through because it is epistolary, I do know enough about the story to know that, while seriously abridged, this radio version of Dracula is outstanding, to say nothing of spine-chilling. All of the main characters are who they should be, meaning that Lucy and Mina aren't related or even friends, Dr. Seward is not a bumbling old man running a sanitorium, and Jonathan Harker is a poor, traumatized young man who barely escapes Transylvania with his life. Barely. The program even includes the carnage of the ship Demeter, an important element also referenced in the 1979 film version of Dracula starring Frank Langella. 

As you're already all well aware, I love Orson Welles' radio plays. Absolutely and with abandon. If I could live in his radio plays, I would, and while Dracula is a haunting story, it is beautifully rendered in this production. The sound effects, the musical score, the performances, everything flawlessly aligns. I cannot praise it enough. I find myself sinking deeper and deeper into the story as it continues, and while there are characters and storylines omitted for the sake of time, it is still exquisite. 

Life is made better by Orson Welles and his radio career, and Dracula proves that point.


  1. Thanks for sharing! I've never been able to read through Dracula either.

    1. Yeah, it's a shame that I struggle with epistolary writing styles. I've read a few books written that way, and they're just not my favorite. Still, my sister bought a cheap copy of Dracula so now I really have no excuse to try it.

  2. I have read the book Dracula. I liked it, but it's not a favorite. I gave it 3 stars on goodreads. The only Dracula movie I've seen is Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). 😉 The movies are just to creepy for me. Good review. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I need to be more intentional about reading it, even if I already am pretty sure it won't be a favorite. That's one Dracula movie I have never seen! Come to think of it, I don't think I've seen Abbott and Costello in anything yet. Hmmm, maybe I should start there.

      The movies do tend to be creepfests, that's for sure. I've seen quite a few, but Langella's Dracula remains my favorite, even though it's not very accurate to the book. He's quite the romantic hero, but I admit that it was Laurence Olivier playing Van Helsing (and brilliantly too), that ultimately intrigued me enough to watch it.

  3. Lovely blog you have here! I am enjoying your film reviews and you've convinced me to give Orson Welles's radio dramas a try! I think I'll start with this one :)

    Also, I'm hosting a blogathon in celebration of the 75th anniversary of It's a Wonderful Life. Would love to have you join us!

    Here's the link if you're interested:

    1. Thanks so much for the invite! I'll check out your blogathon and even if I can't participate, I look forward to reading the participants posts.


Thank you for your kind comments, which I adore!