The Lord of the Rings (1979 radio series) was an American radio dramatisation of The Lord of the Rings.
In 1979 the US National Public Radio broadcast a radio dramatisation of J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings broadcast in twenty-four separate episodes. It was produced by The Mind's Eye and has since been made available by several different companies.
It is sometimes confused with the later BBC production in 1981, but is distinguished by the fact that the most widely circulated US edition comes in a wooden box, whether on compact discs or cassette tapes. Because the Mind's Eye cast recorded their tracks separately (unlike the BBC production which, like most British radio serials, assembled the cast to record their dialogue together) this adaptation is often criticised as being inferior to the BBC version in areas such as pronunciation and voice types. For example, Tolkien's vision of what the Elves were was apparently not well understood at the time by the producers, so the voices of the Elven characters were high-pitched and squeaky, and they spoke in a very childlike manner, like the popular conception of Santa's elves or pixies.
The cast includes Ray Reinhardt (Bilbo), James Arrington (Frodo), Pat Franklyn (Merry), Mac McCaddon (Pippin), Lou Bliss (Sam), Bernard Mayes (Gandalf), Gail Chugg (Narrator), Bernard Mayes (Tom Bombadil), and Tom Luce (Strider/Aragorn). Additionally, Franklyn, McCaddon, Chugg, Reinhardt, Bob Lewis, John Vickery, Erik Bauersfeld and Carl Hague were credited for "additional voices".
The radio script, written by Bernard Mayes, was an abridged version of the book, and emphasised dialogue over description. The broadcasts totaled more than 11 hours. The budget was small and production time was limited. The cast were local theatre players, and the production used stock music and homemade sound effects. The script is notable for including the Tom Bombadil scenes, unlike most other adaptations of the book.
Radio drama was a rarity in the United States at that time, and this production was popular at the time of its broadcast. It was later overshadowed by the BBC radio dramatisation. The Mind's Eye also produced a six-hour adaptation of The Hobbit.
The Mind's Eye adaptation has also been identified with Soundelux, and, most recently, with Highbridge. The name changes correspond to the companies which owned the rights at different times.
The newer editions of the drama on compact disc and MP3 have a somewhat shorter running time than the original cassettes, omitting or condensing a considerable amount of dialogue and narration.
- "A Long Expected Party (1979 episode)"
- "The Ring Leaves The Shire"
- "Rescued By Tom Bombadil"
- "Strider And The Ringwraiths"
- "The Flight To The Ford (episode)"
- "The Council Of Elrond (1979 episode)"
- "The Mines Of Moria (1979 episode)"
- "The Breaking Of The Fellowship (1979 episode)"
- "The Search For The Hobbits"
- "Treebeard (1979 episode)"
- "The White Rider (1979 episode)"
- "The Fall Of Isengard"
- "The Fall Of Saruman"
- "The Taming Of Gollum"
- "Captured... By Friends"
- "The Lair Of Shelob"
- "To The Defense Of Gondor"
- "The Madness Of Denethor"
- "The Lord Of The Nazgûl"
- "The Sword That Was Broken... New Forged"
- "The Mouth Of Sauron (1979 episode)"
- "At The Crack Of Doom"
- "A Time To Part"
- "The Grey Havens (1979 episode)"