Taglines: At station WBN, the hits just keep on coming.
In 1939, WBN, a fourth radio network, is about to take to America’s airwaves. As if the confusion of the premiere night wasn’t enough, Penny Henderson, the owner’s secretary, must deal with an unhappy sponsor, an overbearing boss and a soon-to-be ex-husband who desperately wants her back. As the broadcast begins, a mysterious voice breaks the broadcast and suddenly members of the cast turn up dead. It’s up to her husband Roger, to find out whodunit as the police chase him through the halls of WBN.
Radioland Murders is a 1994 comedy mystery film directed by Mel Smith and co-written and produced by George Lucas. Radioland Murders is set in the 1939 atmosphere of old-time radio and pays homage to the screwball comedy films of the 1930s. The film tells the story of writer Roger Henderson trying to settle relationship issues with his wife while dealing with a whodunit murder mystery in a radio station.
The film stars an ensemble cast, including Brian Benben, Mary Stuart Masterson, Scott Michael Campbell, Michael Lerner and Ned Beatty. Radioland Murders also features numerous small roles and cameo appearances, including Michael McKean, Bobcat Goldthwait, Jeffrey Tambor, Christopher Lloyd, George Burns (in his final film appearance), Billy Barty and Rosemary Clooney.
The genesis of Radioland Murders came from executive producer/co-writer George Lucas’s obsession with old-time radio. Lucas conceived the storyline of the film during the writing phase of American Graffiti, viewing it as a homage to the various Abbott and Costello films, primarily Who Done It (1942), in which Abbott and Costello star as two soda jerks solving a murder in a radio station. Radioland Murders also shares some inspiration from The Big Clock (1948). When Universal Pictures accepted American Graffiti in 1972, Lucas also allowed the studio first look deals for both Radioland Murders and an untitled science fiction film (which eventually became the basis for Star Wars).
Lucas eventually negotiated a deal to produce Radioland Murders for Universal shortly after the successful release of American Graffiti in late 1973. Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz prepared a rough draft based on Lucas’s 1974 film treatment, and Universal was confident enough to announce pre-production soon after. Lucas was set to direct with Gary Kurtz producing. In the original Huyck/Katz script, Roger and Penny were not a married couple seeking divorce, but were boyfriend and girlfriend with a love-hate relationship. Their script also included the controversy over the invention of radio.
Radioland Murders (1994)
Directed by: Mel Smith
Starring: Mary Stuart Masterson, Brian Benben, Ned Beatty, Scott Michael Campbell, Michael Lerner, Michael McKean, Jeffrey Tambor, Stephen Tobolowsky, Christopher Lloyd
Screenplay by: Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz, Jeff Reno, Ron Osborn
Production Design by: Gavin Bocquet
Cinematography by: David Tattersall
Film Editing by: Paul Trejo
Costume Design by: Peggy Farrell
Set Decoration by: James Edward Ferrell Jr.
Art Direction by: Peter Russell
Music by: Joel McNeely
MPAA Rating: PG for mild language, some farcical violence and brief nudity.
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: October 21, 1994