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March of Time
August 22, 2011 8:33 AM   Subscribe

From 1935 to 1951, Time Magazine bridged the gap between print & radio news reporting and the new visual medium of film, with March of Time: award-winning newsreel reports that were a combination of objective documentary, dramatized fiction and pro-American, anti-totalitarian propaganda. They “often tackled subjects and themes that audiences weren’t used to seeingforeign affairs, social trends, public-health issues — and did so with a combination of panache and subterfuge that today seems either absurd or visionary.” (Previous two links have autoplaying video.) By 1937, the short films were being seen by as many as 26 million people every month and may have helped steer public opinion on numerous issues, including (eventually) America’s entry to WWII. Video samples are available at Time.com, the March of Time Facebook page and the entire collection is available online, (free registration required) at HBO Archives.

Two pages at the March Towards War site are linked above. The full site thoroughly examines March of Time as a propaganda effort. (Autoplaying video.) Also includes a quiz: Spot the Fake.

Some March of Time clips were subject to censorship. Most featured reenactments, faked photos and footage. They are a look into how the editors of Time wanted people to think about the news. More about the series at TCM.

In 1938, March of Time produced a sixteen-minute short film entitled “Inside Nazi Germany,” one of the most controversial films ever released into American theaters. (Available in two parts on YouTube: 1, 2.) The CBC documentary series about the history of news media, "Dawn of the Eye," discussed the film and its impact.
posted by zarq (8 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, this is great. I absolutely love watching this kind of stuff, especially as it's so far before my time.
posted by Hargrimm at 8:54 AM on August 22, 2011


Here's a interesting bit of trivia—When the series first began, it would often use actors to impersonate world leaders and other famous individuals in dramatized versions of the news stories. Some of the actors who played the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler or Al Capone included Orson Wells, Agnes Moorehead, and Art Carney. Wells would later go on to parody the series in his film, Citizen Kane.
posted by Toekneesan at 9:00 AM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Eat Snacky Smores.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:01 AM on August 22, 2011


Some of the actors who played the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler or Al Capone included Orson Wells, Agnes Moorehead, and Art Carney.

Orson Welles played a particularly fetching Eleanor Roosevelt, but Moorehead's Hitler lacked the depth of evil that she would later master in her role as Endora.
posted by briank at 12:34 PM on August 22, 2011


These were showing at MOMA last summer & were generally fantastic - I didn't mean to, but I ended up seeing most of the series. "Inside Nazi Germany" is kind of astounding, both for how obviously fake it is - there's a scene where a German family is sitting down to dinner and a soldier comes and takes away their food because that's how things are in Germany - and how different it is to what we remember of history. There's footage of Fritz Julius Kuhn leading rallies for the German American Bund on Long Island which don't seem to be fake at all - and I remember being astounded that I'd never seen that footage, or even heard that much about American Nazis before WWII. The cultural ones are also very nice - "Teen-Age Girls", "Beauty at Work", "Children in Trouble", "Dogs For Sale" - although those are more obviously acted out.
posted by with hidden noise at 12:53 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


While touting The American Century, Christian values, morality and All American wholesomeness, Henry R. Luce brainwashed the American public with the TIME mag Easy Reading version of Republican lies reality. I enjoy the vintage quality of those old films but at the same time consider anything to do with the Lucifer Luce Empire to be inherently malignant.

Among other morally reprehensible things Henry R. Luce did was to oblige the TIME magazine journalists to work for the CIA, when the CIA was being founded. Allen Dulles, the founder of the CIA was Luce's "good friend".

The actual founder of TIME mag was Briton Hadden, not Henry R. Luce.

Personal anecdote: Henry R. Luce's eldest son, Henry Luce III (a name he made up for himself, since he wasn't a III, nor a Junior, simply Henry Luce with no middle name), was my stepfather. I did not like him and The Luce Family War details why. In the mid 1960's I grew up surrounded by Time-Life journalists, their friends and heard tons of not-so-nice stories about Henry Senior, his second wife, Clare Boothe Luce as well as Henry Luce III.

A recently heard example of the Luce Empire hypocrisy: Mrs. Henry Luce was an ambassador, connected with the CIA via the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, a playwright/author but she also wrote articles such as "Is the New Morality Destroying America?". Henry Luce III loathed his stepmother and refused to deal with her personal possessions after her death. A secretary was hired to clean out Clare's room at Fisher's Island and I was told that Clare, while she was Mrs. Henry R. Luce, had two appointment books, one for trysts with lovers at the Sherry Netherland Hotel in a suite she kept for that purpose (apparently she preferred Portuguese sailors, who were screened by her personal secretary) and one for her political and social meetings.

In Clare's desk there was also a note to "father" of the right-wing movement, Paul Weyrich, that she had just the perfect new phrase for him, "moral majority". Weyrich took credit for coining that catchphrase.
posted by nickyskye at 1:52 PM on August 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Completely agreed that these films are propaganda - what's strange about them is how obviously they are propaganda. It's hard to imagine how anyone could have understood them otherwise. But when you see what's clearly manufactured footage of what the Communists were up to in Spain, you see the seeds of why the country's as messed up as it is now.
posted by with hidden noise at 2:00 PM on August 22, 2011


There's footage of Fritz Julius Kuhn leading rallies for the German American Bund on Long Island which don't seem to be fake at all - and I remember being astounded that I'd never seen that footage, or even heard that much about American Nazis before WWII.

Not to get too far off on a Nazi sidetrack, but the item that introduced me to foreign supporters of Hitler was the film It Happened Here. The film is a "what if" a retelling of the war, with Hitler having taken England, and English fascists ascending. the film is controversial for having actual English fascists play themselves, muttering on about the jews and such.

Some of the fake propaganda newsreels, proclaiming England and Germany's natural brotherhood, must have been modeled on March of Time.
posted by eustatic at 5:29 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


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