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The March of Time

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The March of Time
Produced by
Narrated byWestbrook Van Voorhis
Distributed by
Release date
February 1, 1935 – August 1951
Running time
15–30 minutes
CountryUnited States

The March of Time is an American newsreel series sponsored by Time Inc. and shown in movie theaters from 1935 to 1951. It was based on a radio news series broadcast from 1931 to 1945 that was produced by advertising agency Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn (BBDO).[1] The "voice" of both series was Westbrook Van Voorhis. Produced and written by Louis de Rochemont and his brother Richard de Rochemont, The March of Time was recognized with an Academy Honorary Award in 1937.

The March of Time organization also produced four feature films for theatrical release, and created documentary series for early television. Its first TV series, Crusade in Europe (1949), received a Peabody Award and one of the first Emmy Awards.


The March of Time was based on a news documentary and dramatization series, also called The March of Time, that was first broadcast on CBS Radio in 1931. Produced by Madison Avenue advertising agency, Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn (BBDO), the series was designed to cross promote Time magazine on the radio.[2] Usually called a newsreel series, The March of Time was actually a monthly series of short feature films twice the length of standard newsreels. The films were didactic, with a subjective point of view.[3]: 75–76  The editors of Time described it as "pictorial journalism". Like its radio namesake, The March of Time included reporting, on-location shots, and dramatic reenactments. The March of Time's relationship to the newsreel was compared to the weekly interpretive news magazine's relationship to the daily newspaper.[4]

The March of Time was launched February 1, 1935, in over 500 theaters. Each entry in the series was either a two- or three-reel film (20 or 30 minutes). Westbrook Van Voorhis, who hosted the radio program, served as narrator of the film series. The series, which finally totalled close to 200 segments, was an immediate success with audiences. Because of its high production costs—estimated at $50,000 per episode, released at the rate of about one episode per month—the series was a money loser. However, it remained in production for six years beyond the cancellation of the radio show on which it was based.

The films were originally distributed by First Division Pictures, an independent distributor of minor-studio product. Major studio RKO Radio Pictures took over distribution in August 1935, and 20th Century-Fox began releasing the series in September 1942. At its peak The March of Time was seen by 25 million U.S. moviegoers a month.[5]

"Implicit in all March of Time issues was a kind of uncomplicated American liberalism — general good intentions, a healthy journalistic skepticism, faith in enlightened self-interest, and substantial pride in American progress and potential", wrote March of Time chronicler Raymond Fielding:

The men who made the March of Time were not political theorists, they were journalists. For them, fascism, communism, and native demagogues seemed foreign to the American ethic, and they exposed and attacked them accordingly. … A cinematic agent provocateur, the March of Time turned over a lot of rocks, both at home and abroad, and illuminated the creatures it found beneath them. The demagogues and quacks whom they attacked in the 1930s may seem like obvious targets now, but they didn't seem so then. They were popular, powerful, frightening people, and the March of Time stood entirely alone in theatrical motion picture circles as a muckraker.[3]: 87 

In late 1936, producer Roy E. Larsen reluctantly left The March of Time to serve as publisher of Life, a weekly news magazine that began publication in November 1936. Time executives had long vacillated over launching such a magazine, but the success of The March of Time's experiments in pictorial journalism overcame the hesitation of the corporation's board of directors. Larsen proposed that the new magazine be named The March of Time, but the name Life was purchased from the owners of a declining periodical. Life magazine was a great success and notable influence on photojournalism throughout its 36-year history.[3]: 161–162 

Louis de Rochemont succeeded Larsen as producer of The March of Time, while Larsen continued to supervise the operations of the series on behalf of the Time corporation.[3]: 162 

Crowd in front of a New York news cinema running Inside Nazi Germany (1938), deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry[6]

Examining the subjects of The March of Time, series historian Raymond Fielding found that episodes dealing with a single country and its affairs comprised 32.6 to 36 percent of the entire series. Economic issues were the subject of 10 percent of the episodes, and domestic politics 5 percent. Between 1935 and 1942, approximately 24 percent of the episodes were about war or the threat of war; from December 1941 until the end of World War II nearly every episode dealt with war.[3]: 172 

"Although the March of Time was professedly nonpartisan, a clear and persistent antifascist tone was becoming apparent in its analysis of world politics and rising militarism", Fielding wrote. "'Rehearsal for War' [August 6, 1937] was unquestionably anti-Franco, which was exactly what liberal staff members had intended."[3]: 175–176 

During Louis de Rochemont's tenure (1935–1943), 14 percent of the March of Time episodes were about the impact of specific individuals on political, economic and military events — a number that dropped significantly after his departure. De Rochemont's particular interest in the geopolitical role of the world's waterways resulted in 7.5 percent of all episodes devoted to the subject.[3]: 172 

The March of Time film series ended in 1951, when the widespread adoption of television and daily TV news shows made the newsreel format obsolete. Newsreel series such as Pathé News (1910–1956), Paramount News (1927–1957), Fox Movietone News (1928–1963), Hearst Metrotone News/News of the Day (1914–1967), and Universal Newsreel (1929–1967) continued for a while longer.


Unless noted, sources for episode information are The March of Time, 1935–1951 by Raymond Fielding,[3]: 335–342  and the HBO Archive's summary of The March of Time newsreels.[7] Episodes 1.1–1.4 were distributed by First Division Pictures; episodes 1.5–8.13 were distributed by RKO Pictures; episodes 9.1–17.6 were distributed by 20th Century-Fox.[8]

Volume + issue U.S. release date Title Length Notes
1.1 February 1, 1935 Saionji
Speakeasy Street
Belisha Beacons
Moe Buchsbaum
Fred Perkins
Metropolitan Opera
Prince Saionji counsels Japan's leaders
The 21 Club frustrates federal agents during Prohibition
Britain's transport ministry erects traffic lights despite hostility
U.S. tourist agrees to pay fine in France under one condition[9]
Manufacturer defies NRA wage-scale directives on principle
Giulio Gatti-Casazza retires; first sound pictures of the Met
1.2 March 8, 1935 Germany
New York Daily News
Mohawk Disaster
Speed Camera
Adolf Hitler's rise to power and preparations for war
Scooping competitors with news of the Bruno Hauptmann sentence
Folk songs of Huddie Ledbetter preserved by the Library of Congress
Three consecutive sea disasters prompt consideration of International Safety Code
Harold Eugene Edgerton's new slow-motion camera
1.3 April 19, 1935 Huey Long
Satirical study of Huey Long
Basil Zaharoff attends secret conference of munitions manufacturers at Cannes
Suppression of freedom of religion in Mexico by Plutarco Elías Calles
Pan American Airways's Sikorsky S-42 flying boats provide service to China
1.4 May 31, 1935 Navy War Games
Washington News
United States Navy war games in the Pacific
Review of the Soviet experiment, as Joseph Stalin attempts to unify Russia
The Washington press corps at work, featuring Arthur Krock
1.5 August 16, 1935 Army
Croix de Feu
Father Coughlin
General Douglas MacArthur leads Army maneuvers in a simulated invasion of the U.S.
Militant French fascist organization Croix-de-Feu forms and grows
Portrait of politically outspoken radio evangelist Father Charles Coughlin
1.6 September 20, 1935 Bootleg Coal
Civilian Conservation Corps
Pennsylvania miners on strike dig coal from closed mines to survive
CCC camps save both the land and unemployed youth of America
British build dam for Emperor Haile Selassie as Italy mobilizes for war
1.7 October 18, 1935 Neutrality
Safety ("— And Sudden Death")
Summer Theatres
With the invasion of Ethiopia, the U.S. embargoes arms sales to belligerents
Nazi oppression drives Jews into Tel Aviv
Dramatic staging of J. C. Furnas's Reader's Digest article on auto accidents
Young actors including Henry Fonda, Margaret Sullavan and Katharine Hepburn
1.8 November 13, 1935 G.O.P.
Wild Ducks
Herbert Hoover and fellow Republicans prepare for the 1936 Presidential election
Methods of professional strikebreaker Pearl Bergoff during the textile workers strike
Review of U.S. Biological Survey efforts to preserve migratory waterfowl
1.9 December 13, 1935 Japan–China
Townsend Plan
Japanese occupation of China and formation of the puppet state of Manchukuo
Federal Bureau of Narcotics works to stop cocaine smuggling into New Orleans
Francis Townsend's revolving old-age pension alternative to Social Security
2.1 January 7, 1936 Pacific Islands
Bureau of Air Commerce colonizes uninhabited Pacific islands
Portrait of Anatole Deibler, France's executioner-in-chief
Profile of the Tennessee Valley Authority
2.2 February 14, 1936 Father Divine
Hartman Discovery
Religious organization and theories of spiritual leader Father Divine
Dr. Leroy L. Hartman invents new painkilling technique for dentistry
Study of life in the Soviet Union
2.3 March 13, 1936 Devil's Island
Tokyo, Japan
Prisoners in French Guiana
Study of political revolt and killing of government officials by army officers
New England fishermen fear losing Canadian tariff
2.4 April 17, 1936 Florida Canal
Arson Squads in Action
Field Trials
Veterans of Future Wars
Angry debate over construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal
Dramatization of fire marshal Thomas P. Brophy solving arson case in Brooklyn
Hunting and sporting dog trials in Tennessee
Princeton University student organization proposes bonuses for future military service
2.5 May 15, 1936 League of Nations Union
Critical look at the weakened League of Nations and worsening international relations
Uncertain future of railroad industry
Dramatizations depict the decreasing national relief fund
2.6 June 12, 1936 Otto von Habsburg
Texas Centennial
Crime School
Archduke Otto of Austria in exile
Satirical study of the Texas Centennial Exposition
Fictional case history of a poor New York boy who becomes a criminal
2.7 June 12, 1936 Revolt in France
An American Dictator
Jockey Club
Social and political shifts in France since World War I
Exposé of Rafael Trujillo
The Jockey Club sets horse racing policies and investigates illegal practices
2.8 August 7, 1936 Albania's King Zog
Highway Homes
King Cotton's Slaves
Profile of Albania and King Zog I
Trailers are used for camping, recreation and affordable homes
Brutal economic conditions under which Southern sharecropper families live
3.1 September 2, 1936 Passamaquoddy
The 'Lunatic Fringe'
U.S. Milky Way
The Public Works Administration's Quoddy Dam Project for eastern Maine
Gerald L. K. Smith, Father Divine, Francis Townsend and Charles Coughlin
Dramatization of 1893 milk-borne typhoid epidemic; current dairy farming practices
3.2 September 30, 1936 England's Tithe War
Labor versus Labor
The Football Business
Church of England tithe law is an intolerable burden on farmers during the Depression
John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers breaks away from the AFL to form the CIO
The amateur sport of college football is becoming big business
3.3 November 6, 1936 The Presidency
New Schools for Old
FDR reelected; review of first term and speculation on second term
The U.S. public school system celebrates its centennial; John Dewey speaks
3.4 November 27, 1936 A Soldier-King's Son
St. Lawrence Seaway
An Uncle Sam Production
Young King Leopold III of Belgium rules a country facing Nazi aggression from Germany and within
U.S. and Canadian efforts to open a binational deep waterway for trade through the Great Lakes face opposition
The Federal Theatre Project works to revitalize an industry ravaged by the Great Depression
3.5 December 24, 1936 China's Dictator Kidnapped
Business Girls in the Big City
Chiang Kai-shek is kidnapped by Manchurian ruler Zhang Xueliang
Women in business and industry, the professions and government; profiles include Edna Woolman Chase, Erma Perham Proetz, Josephine Roche and Frances Perkins
3.6 January 22, 1937 Conquering Cancer
Midwinter Vacations
The history and nature of cancer and the progress being made to combat it; profile of accused quack Norman G. Baker
Advertising agencies promote winter vacations in Florida; winter resorts attempt to attract tourist revenue
Brief overview of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah
3.7 February 19, 1937 Father of All Turks
Birth of Swing
Enemies of Alcohol
Turkey is Westernized under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Swing music's roots in New Orleans jazz; Nick LaRocca reunites the Original Dixieland Jass Band and performs "Tiger Rag"
Post-Prohibition resurgence of the liquor business faces two enemies — bootlegging and the temperance movement
3.8 March 19, 1937 Child Labor
Coronation Crisis
Harlem's Black Magic
Three presidents advocate a Child Labor Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Lloyd's of London pays off on business losses due to the abdication of Edward VIII, and defunct souvenirs find a ready market in the U.S.
The New York World-Telegram exposes voodoo worship in Harlem as a racket for confidence men
3.9 April 16, 1937 Amateur Sleuths
Britain's Food Defenses
The Supreme Court
Volunteer sleuth clubs organized to help police solve crimes
Facing a military shortage due to malnourishment, Britain campaigns and trains for physical fitness
FDR combats legal challenges to New Deal innovations, including the Wagner Act, with an attempt to reform the Supreme Court
3.10 May 14, 1937 Irish Republic — 1937
Puzzle Prizes
U.S. Unemployed
With a new Constitution and the leadership of President Éamon de Valera, Ireland works to become self-sufficient through industrialization
Legal contests, puzzles and lotteries like the Irish Sweepstakes gain popularity
David Lasser's Worker's Alliance pressures U.S. legislators to combat unemployment; the WPA needs increased funding
3.11 June 11, 1937 Dogs for Sale
Dust Bowl
Poland and War
Catering to dog owners is big business; The Seeing Eye trains service dogs for the blind, and new legislation will lift restrictions
With more than nine million acres of U.S. farmland suffering major soil erosion, the USDA aggressively promotes planting and plowing methods that restore ecological balance
Historical overview includes the accomplishments of General Pilsudski and his successor, growing anti-Semitism and changing regional conditions
3.12 July 9, 1937 Babies Wanted
Rockefeller Millions
The 49th State?
More families seek to adopt as the U.S. birth rate declines; agencies improve childcare and screening methods
The philanthropy of John D. Rockefeller Jr., and the Rockefeller Foundation
The key role of Hawaii in the defense of the U.S., and its campaign for statehood
3.13 August 6, 1937 Rehearsal for War
The Spoils System
Youth in Camps
The U.S. looks for lessons in the Spanish Civil War as it prepares for future conflicts
Efforts to rid the United States civil service system of nepotism and patronage
Summer resident camps for underprivileged American children offer good food, exercise, competitive sports and outdoor skills
4.1 September 10, 1937 Pests of 1937
War in China
4.2 October 1, 1937 England's D.O.R.A.
Fiorello LaGuardia
Junk and War
4.3 October 29, 1937 Amoskeag-Success Story
Crisis in Algeria
U.S. Secret Service
4.4 November 26, 1937 Britain's Gambling Fever
Alaska's Salmon War
The Human Heart
4.5 December 27, 1937 The Laugh Industry
4.6 January 18, 1938 Inside Nazi Germany 16:00 1993 inductee for National Film Registry
4.7 February 18, 1938 Old Dixie's New Boom
One Million Missing
Russians in Exile
4.8 March 18, 1938 Arms and the League
Brain Trust Island
4.9 April 15, 1938 Nazi Conquest — No. 1
Crime and Prisons
4.10 May 13, 1938 England's Bankrupt Peers
Friend of the People
Racketeers vs. Housewives
4.11 June 10, 1938 Men of Medicine 16:07
4.12 July 8, 1938 G-Men of the Sea 16:12
4.13 August 6, 1938 Man at the Wheel
Threat to Gibraltar
5.1 September 2, 1938 Father Divine's Deal
Prelude to Conquest
5.2 September 30, 1938 The British Dilemma
U.S. Firefighters
5.3 October 28, 1938 Inside the Maginot Line 19:42
5.4 November 25, 1938 Uncle Sam: The Good Neighbor 17:44
5.5 December 23, 1938 The Refugee — Today and Tomorrow 16:53
5.6 January 20, 1939 State of the Nation — 1939 17:01
5.7 February 1939 Mexico's New Crisis
Young America
5.8 March 1939 The Mediterranean — Background for War 17:38
5.9 April 1939 Japan — Master of the Orient 17:57
5.10 May 1939 Dixie — U.S.A. 18:09
5.11 June 1939 War, Peace, Propaganda 18:11
5.12 July 1939 The Movies March On! 20:58
5.13 August 1939 Metropolis 17:33
6.1 September 1939 Soldiers with Wings 18:07
6.2 September 1939 Battle Fleets of England 17:59
6.3 October 1939 Uncle Sam — The Farmer 17:21
6.4 November 1939 Newsfronts of War — 1940 18:16
6.5 December 1939 Crisis in the Pacific — 1940 17:10
6.6 January 1940 The Republic of Finland 1919–1940 17:25
6.7 February 1940 The Vatican of Pius XII 17:54 directed by Luís Buñuel[citation needed]
6.8 March 1940 Canada at War 17:25
6.9 April 1940 America's Youth 18:16
6.10 May 1940 The Philippines: 1898–1946 18:16
6.11 June 1940 The U.S. Navy — 1940 17:37
6.12 August 1940 Spoils of Conquest 16:44
6.13 August 1940 Gateways to Panama 19:09
7.1 September 1940 On Foreign Newsfronts 18:10
7.2 October 1940 Britain's R.A.F. 17:29
7.3 October 1940 Mexico — Good Neighbor's Dilemma 18:18
7.4 November 1940 Arms and the Men — U.S.A. 18:28
7.5 December 1940 Labor and Defense — U.S.A. 18:02
7.6 January 1941 Uncle Sam — The Non-Belligerent 20:36
7.7 February 1941 Americans All 16:25
7.8 March 1941 Australia at War 18:44
7.9 April 1941 Men of the F.B.I. — 1941 20:34
7.10 May 1941 Crisis in the Atlantic 16:47
7.11 June 1941 China Fights Back 17:37
7.12 August 1941 New England's Eight Million Yankees 19:39
7.13 August 1941 Peace — by Adolf Hitler 17:30
8.1 August 1941 Thumbs Up, Texas! 18:30
8.2 September 1941 Norway in Revolt 19:40 Academy Award nominee
8.3 October 1941 Sailors with Wings 19:22
8.4 November 1941 Main Street — U.S.A. 17:09
8.5 December 1941 Our America at War 16:54
Special Issue December 1941 Battlefields of the Pacific n/a
8.6 January 1942 When Air Raids Strike 19:13
8.7 February 1942 Far East Command 17:05
8.8 March 1942 The Argentine Question 18:27
8.9 April 1942 America's New Army 16:10
8.10 May 1942 India in Crisis 18:31
8.11 June 1942 India at War 18:33
8.12 July 1942 Men in Washington — 1942 19:00
8.13 July 1942 Men of the Fleet (The Ocean Fronts) 17:15
9.1 September 1942 The F.B.I. Front 19:34
9.2 October 1942 The Fighting French n/a
9.3 November 1942 Mr. and Mrs. America 19:43
9.4 December 4, 1942 Africa - Prelude to Victory 17:35 Academy Award nominee
9.5 December 1942 The Navy and the Nation 18:53
9.6 January 1943 One Day of War — Russia 1943 21:04
9.7 February 1943 The New Canada 17:23
9.8 March 1943 America's Food Crisis 17:47
9.9 April 1943 Inside Fascist Spain 16:47
9.10 May 1943 Show Business at War 17:34
9.11 June 1943 Invasion! 17:53
9.12 July 1943 Bill Jack vs. Adolf Hitler 17:37
9.13 August 1943 And Then Japan 17:36
10.1 September 1943 Airways to Peace 16:27
10.2 October 1943 Portugal — Europe's Crossroads 18:25
10.3 November 1943 Youth in Crisis 17:49 Academy Award nominee
10.4 December 1943 Naval Log of Victory 18:56
10.5 December 1943 Upbeat in Music 16:53
10.6 January 1944 Sweden's Middle Road 18:42
10.7 February 1944 Post-War Jobs 18:00
10.8 March 1944 South American Front — 1944 17:07
10.9 April 1944 The Irish Question 18:35
10.10 May 1944 Underground Report 19:19
10.11 June 1944 Back Door to Tokyo 17:40
10.12 July 1944 Americans All n/a
10.13 August 1944 British Imperialism 17:42
11.1 September 1944 Post-War Farms 16:37
11.2 October 1944 What To Do with Germany 18:25
11.3 November 1944 Uncle Sam, Mariner? 16:23
11.4 December 1944 Inside China Today 16:53
11.5 December 1944 The Unknown Battle 18:07
11.6 January 1945 Report on Italy 16:28
11.7 February 1945 The West Coast Question 16:15
11.8 March 1945 Memo from Britain 16:00
11.9 April 1945 The Returning Veteran n/a
11.10 May 1945 Spotlight on Congress 15:19
11.11 June 15, 1945 Teen-Age Girls 16:28
11.12 July 13, 1945 Where's the Meat? 16:08
11.13 August 10, 1945 The New U.S. Frontier 16:08
12.1 September 17, 1945 Palestinian Problem n/a
12.2 October 5, 1945 American Beauty 17:23
12.3 November 2, 1945 18 Million Orphans 16:43
12.4 November 30, 1945 Justice Comes to Germany 20:11
12.5 December 28, 1945 Challenge to Hollywood 17:11
12.6 January 25, 1946 Life with Baby 18:42
12.7 February 22, 1946 Report on Greece 18:22
12.8 March 22, 1946 Night Club Boom 20:38
12.9 April 19, 1946 Wanted — More Homes 20:19
12.10 May 17, 1946 Tomorrow's Mexico 19:31
12.11 June 14, 1946 Problem Drinkers 19:19
12.12 July 12, 1946 The New France 18:55
12.13 August 9, 1946 Atomic Power 18:25 Academy Award nominee
13.1 September 27, 1946 Is Everybody Happy? 16:26
13.2 October 4, 1946 World Food Production 16:50
13.3 November 1, 1946 The Soviet's Neighbor — Czechoslovakia 17:18
13.4 November 29, 1946 The American Cop 17:39
13.5 December 27, 1946 Nobody's Children 16:20
13.6 January 24, 1947 Germany — Handle with Care! 17:36
13.7 February 21, 1947 Fashion Means Business n/a
13.8 March 21, 1947 The Teachers' Crisis 15:45
13.9 April 18, 1947 Storm over Britain 17:49
13.10 May 16, 1947 The Russians Nobody Knows 18:15
13.11 June 13, 1947 Your Doctors — 1947 18:24
13.12 July 11, 1947 New Trains for Old? 18:05
13.13 August 8, 1947 Turkey's 100 Million 17:49
14.1 September 6, 1947 Is Everybody Listening? 18:05
14.2 October 3, 1947 T-Men in Action 17:06
14.3 October 30, 1947 End of an Empire? 17:53
14.4 November 28, 1947 Public Relations — This Means You 16:03
14.5 December 26, 1947 The Presidential Year 15:18
14.6 January 23, 1948 The Cold War: Act I — France 17:57
14.7 February 20, 1948 Marriage and Divorce 16:23
14.8 March 19, 1948 The Cold War: Act II — Crisis in Italy 16:22
14.9 April 16, 1948 Life with Junior 17:44
14.10 May 14, 1948 The Cold War: Act III — Battle for Greece 16:43
14.11 June 11, 1948 The Fight Game n/a
14.12 July 9, 1948 The Case of Mrs. Conrad 17:5
14.13 August 6, 1948 White-Collar Girls 16:23
14.14 September 3, 1948 Life with Grandpa 16:14
14.15 October 1, 1948 Battle for Germany 17:40
14.16 October 29, 1948 America's New Air Power 17:15
14.17 November 26, 1948 Answer to Stalin 18:15
14.18 December 24, 1948 Watchdogs of the Mail 17:37
15.1 January 21, 1949 On Stage 17:44
15.2 February 18, 1949 Asia's New Voice 16:51
15.3 March 18, 1949 Wish You Were Here 16:57
15.4 April 15, 1949 Report on the Atom 18:24
15.5 May 13, 1949 Sweden Looks Ahead 17:06
15.6 June 10, 1949 It's in the Groove 18:22
15.7 July 8, 1949 Stop — Heavy Traffic! 15:04
15.8 August 5, 1949 Farming Pays Off 16:27
15.9 September 2, 1949 Policeman's Holiday 18:45
15.10 September 30, 1949 The Fight for Better Schools 19:44
15.11 November 11, 1949 MacArthur's Japan 17:04
15.12 December 23, 1949 A Chance to Live 18:11 Boys Town of Italy aids destitute children after WWII; Academy Award Winner; The Academy Film Archive preserved A Chance to Live in 2005.[10]
16.1 February 3, 1950 Mid-Century — Half-Way to Where? 16:20
16.2 March 17, 1950 The Male Look 15:33
16.3 April 28, 1950 Where's the Fire? 18:29
16.4 June 9, 1950 Beauty at Work 17:10
16.5 August 18, 1950 As Russia Sees It 15:36
16.6 September 29, 1950 The Gathering Storm 15:52
16.7 November 10, 1950 Schools March On! 17:49
16.8 December 1950 Tito — New Ally? 17:12
17.1 February 1951 Strategy for Victory 16:56
17.2 March 1951 Flight Plan for Freedom 18:22
17.3 April 1951 The Nation's Mental Health 18:21
17.4 June 1951 Moroccan Outpost 16:47
17.5 July 1951 Crisis in Iran 17:58
17.6 August 1951 Formosa — Island of Promise 16:30

Reviews and commentary[edit]

  • Writing for The Spectator in 1935, Graham Greene favorably contrasted the film with contemporary British news films whose stories he described as "scraps of unimportant material [...] flung without arrangement on to the screen". Praising the producers of The March of Time, Greene suggested that "their fortnightly programmes can be compared with an authoritative article by a special correspondent rather than with a haphazard page of photographs from the Daily Mirror", and went on to discuss the danger of censorship for this nascent news medium in light of England's stronger libel laws and the British Board of Film Censors' decision to severely cut scenes of the Parisian riots related to the Croix de Feu, and to remove the film's final scene revealing the source of the Croix de Feu's funding - an act of censorship that Greene noted as making the film "Fascist in tone".[11]
  • Alistair Cooke, The Listener (November 20, 1935) — The March of Time is not the result of bright inspiration. Behind it is ten years' experience with a magazine of the same style; an army of correspondents and cameramen scattered throughout the world; an historical film library it took two years to prepare; a newspaper cutting library as exhaustive as anything extant; and in New York and Chicago a vast research staff alert to trace the origins of any family, war, author, statesman, treaty, or breath or rumour. With no less than this should any other film company irresponsibly compete.[3]: 67 
  • Bosley Crowther, The New York Times (October 31, 1937) — And now, less than three years old but already an institution, the March of Time is today one of the most successful and forward-looking features on the screen — a dynamic force for the purveyance of information through the medium of the film.[12]
  • D. A. Spencer and H. D. Waley, The Cinema Today (1939) — Although the ideal behind these films is to present, as objectively as possible, accounts of world happenings, there is no doubt whatever that they are helping to mould our views on such happenings. In America legislation regulating child labour … has at last passed both Houses of Congress by a narrow margin which is believed to be due to the March of Time. Their film on cancer has done a good deal to arouse the national conscience of America to the evils of the quackery that battens on fear of this scourge, while in England, before the present campaign for National Fitness was under way, their film Food and Physical Training aroused enormous interest and debate in that it brought home to many people's minds the fact that the animals at the zoo are better fed and housed than many of the nation's children.[3]: 176 
  • Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times (September 2, 2010) — It's hard to know today even what to call these films. (Raymond Fielding, a retired college educator who wrote a book about the series, told me that roughly 290 were made.) '"Newsreels'" seems inadequate; they are longer, more detailed and much more opinionated than the standard-issue newsreels that preceded them. "Documentaries" is closer, but the blaring orchestrations and outlandish voice-overs sound nothing like a modern documentary. It's tempting to give up and label these whats-its a mass-media Neanderthal — an evolutionary dead end; an attempt to merge the tools of newsgathering and filmmaking that had its moment but died out. Except that, once you watch a few and learn about how they were made, you start to see a little March of Time in almost everything: Fox News, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the History channel, schlocky reality shows of the I Shouldn't Be Alive variety, PBS's P.O.V.[13]
  • Tom Shales, The Washington Post (September 4, 2010) — Fascinating, enthralling, enlightening—many a superlative applies to these documentary shorts, which have gathered value with the march of time itself and have been rescued from the ravages of time by New York's Museum of Modern Art and the HBO Archive, corporate relative of the series's original creators. … It's something of an irony that The March of Time may be less famous today than a bull's-eye parody of it — a parody that millions have seen, many of them perhaps not even knowing that it is a parody or what it's lampooning. Does News on the March ring a bell? It's the title of the fake-out newsreel that begins the Orson Welles classic Citizen Kane, and it includes wily duplications of all the March of Time trademarks, including the white-on-black transitional title cards, the wall-to-wall musical score and the bombastic narration.[14]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Feature films[edit]

Four feature-length films were produced by The March of Time.[3]: 343–347 


In 1949 The March of Time created the first extensive documentary series for television, Crusade in Europe, based on the book by Dwight D. Eisenhower. The ABC series received a Peabody Award and one of the first Emmy Awards (Best Public Service, Cultural or Educational Program).[19] It was followed by Crusade in the Pacific (1951).[3]: 302 

In 1965–1966, producer David L. Wolper revived the March of Time title for a series of documentary films produced in association with Time-Life, Inc.[20] The series was not successful.[3]: 302 

Cultural references[edit]

Dorothy Fields' lyrics for the song "A Fine Romance", introduced by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1936 RKO film Swing Time, include a reference to the newsreel series:

A fine romance, with no kisses.
A fine romance, my friend, this is.
True love should have the thrills that a healthy crime has.
We don't have half the thrills that The March of Time has.[21][22]

The March of Dimes, a fundraising organization that still exists, was named by Eddie Cantor in 1938 as a play on The March of Time. Because Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the March of Dimes, originally called the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, a dime was chosen to honor him after his death.[23]

The March of Time series was satirized in Orson Welles's film Citizen Kane (1941) with the News on the March segment showing the life and funeral of the fictional Charles Foster Kane.[3]: 258–260 

The Canadian documentary series The World in Action (1942–1945) was patterned after The March of Time newsreel series.[24]


  1. ^ Meyers, Cynthia (2018). "The March of Time Radio Docudrama: Time Magazine, BBDO, and Radio Sponsors, 1931–39". American Journalism. 35 (4): 420–443. doi:10.1080/08821127.2018.1527634. S2CID 166288067.
  2. ^ Meyers, Cynthia (2018). "The March of Time Radio Docudrama: Time Magazine, BBDO, and Radio Sponsors, 1931–39". American Journalism. 35 (4): 420–443. doi:10.1080/08821127.2018.1527634. S2CID 166288067.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Fielding, Raymond (1978). The March of Time, 1935–1951. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-502212-2.
  4. ^ "Pictorial Journalism". The New York Times. February 2, 1935.
  5. ^ Gilling, Ted (May 7, 1989). "Real to Reel: Newsreels and re-enactments help trio of documentaries make history come alive". Toronto Star.
  6. ^ a b "Complete National Recording Registry Listing". loc.gov. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  7. ^ "Synopsis" (PDF). The March of Time Newsreels. HBO Archives. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 6, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  8. ^ Setliff, Jonathan Stuart (2007). The March of Time and the American Century (PDF) (PhD diss.). University of Maryland. pp. 78–81, 88–89. Retrieved March 18, 2023.
  9. ^ "France: Motorist Moe"; Time, September 10, 1934
  10. ^ "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.
  11. ^ Greene, Graham (November 1, 1935). "The March of Time". The Spectator. (reprinted in: Taylor, John Russell, ed. (1980). The Pleasure Dome. Oxford University Press. pp. 34–35. ISBN 0192812866.)
  12. ^ Crowther, Bosley, "Time Marches On and On: A Hurried Investigation of That High Potential Screen Feature." The New York Times, October 31, 1937
  13. ^ Genzlinger, Neil, "Time Marches … Backward!". The New York Times, September 2, 2010
  14. ^ Shales, Tom, "'March of Time' newsreels on Turner Classic Movies a gripping record of history". The Washington Post, September 4, 2010
  15. ^ The 9th Academy Awards, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; retrieved April 13, 2012
  16. ^ "March of Time Honored for War on Disease." The New York Times, October 28, 1937
  17. ^ The 14th Academy Awards, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; retrieved April 13, 2012
  18. ^ a b c d "The Official Academy Awards Database". American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  19. ^ Cook, Bruce, "Whatever Happened to Westbrook Van Voohis?" American Film, March 1977
  20. ^ The March of Time 1965–1966 at the Official Website of Producer David L. Wolper; retrieved May 24, 2012
  21. ^ "A Fine Romance". SongMeanings. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  22. ^ "A Fine Romance". The Dorothy Fields Website. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  23. ^ Barrett, William P. "March of Dimes' Second Act". Forbes, November 19, 2008.
  24. ^ Ohayon, Albert, "Propaganda Cinema at the NFB – The World in Action"; National Film Board of Canada (blog), September 30, 2009

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