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The March of Time

The March of Time is an American radio news series broadcast from 1931 to 1945, and a companion newsreel series shown in movie theaters from 1935 to 1951. Created by broadcasting pioneer Fred Smith and Time magazine executive Roy E. Larsen, the program combined actual news events with reenactments. The "voice" of The March of Time was Westbrook Van Voorhis. The radio program was later developed into a newsreel series 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.


  • Radio series 1
    • Cast 1.1
    • Broadcast history 1.2
    • Reviews and commentary 1.3
    • Awards and recognition 1.4
  • Newsreel series 2
    • Episodes 2.1
    • Reviews and commentary 2.2
    • Awards and recognition 2.3
  • Films 3
  • Television 4
  • Cultural references 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Radio series

The March of Time
CBS sound effects chief Ora Daigle Nichols and George O'Donnell on The March of Time
Genre News documentary and dramatization
Running time 30 minutes (March 6, 1931–April 26, 1935);
15 minutes (August 26, 1935–September 25, 1936);
30 minutes (October 15, 1936–July 26, 1945)[1]:434
Country United States
Language(s) English
Creator(s) Roy E. Larsen
Fred Smith
Director(s) Arthur Pryor Jr.
Donald Stouffer
Thomas Harrington
William Spier
Homer Fickett
Producer(s) Arthur Pryor Jr.
Donald Stouffer
Thomas Harrington
Exec. producer(s) Davidson Taylor (for CBS)[2]:42
Narrated by Ted Husing
Westbrook Van Voorhis
Harry von Zell
Air dates March 6, 1931 (1931-03-06) to July 26, 1945 (1945-07-26)
Sponsor(s) Time Inc.

The March of Time had its origins in a 1928 radio series developed at WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio, by radio pioneer Fred Smith, who obtained permission to use material from Time magazine in his broadcasts. Later, Smith and Roy E. Larsen, the first circulation manager for Time, developed Time magazine's own radio program, which they called Newscasting. That program evolved into The March of Time, the first network presentation of a dramatized "news" format. At Smith's suggestion, the program included the "10 best radio actors", an "announcer extraordinary", a "splendid orchestra" and a "clever director."[3]

"The March of Time was the first radio newsreel", wrote radio historian John Dunning, "dramatized news events, elaborately staged with sound effects and music, put together like a newspaper — often on deadline, with impact and accuracy its twin goals."[1]:435

The March of Time began airing as a weekly series March 6, 1931, on CBS Radio on over 32 stations on Friday evenings.[4][5] The half-hour program aired Fridays at 8:30 p.m. ET. In 1935 the program was trimmed to 15 minutes and aired five times a week,[6] but after a year returned to its 30-minute weekly format. Suspended in 1939, the series was revived in 1941 with a new format, and lasted until 1945.[7]:19

Time Inc. was the only sponsor of all of the shows; other sponsors included Remington Rand, the Wrigley Company, and Electrolux. The March of Time aired on CBS through October 7, 1937, and was subsequently broadcast on the Blue Network (October 14, 1937–June 5, 1942), NBC (July 9, 1942–October 26, 1944), and ABC (November 2, 1944–July 26, 1945).[8]

One of radio's most popular programs, The March of Time was described by Variety as "the apex of radio showmanship." It reached millions of Americans during its 14-year history. The series's promotional value to Time Inc. proved to be incalculable, although Time had announced that it would discontinue the program after the first year.[7]:18–19 It was an expensive production requiring as many as 75 staff and 1,000 hours of labor to get each issue on the air.[7]:12–13

The full studio orchestra was conducted by Howard Barlow (CBS) and Donald Voorhees (NBC). The sound effects team was led by Ora Daigle Nichols, the only woman who made a living as a sound engineer at that time. She and her husband Arthur introduced sound effects to radio, drawing on many successful years of stage and silent film experience. They began to freelance their talents to radio in 1928, and were put under contract by CBS as the demand for sound effects increased. After her husband's death in 1931, Nichols continued to lead the profession and was called the "first lady of sound effects." The media voted Nichols one of the most influential women in radio; other women honored included Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt and Kate Smith.[9]:16–17, 244

The March of Time broadcasts began with the tramp-tramp-tramp of shuffling feet, to indicate "the relentless impersonal progress of events." The principal narrator was the Voice of Time; another was the Voice of Fate, narrating stories of catastrophe or the death of a notable person. The first Voice of Time was Ted Husing; Westbrook Van Voorhis was the Voice of Fate. In fall 1931 Harry von Zell began a brief tenure as Time, but in October 1933 Van Voorhis moved into the lead role. His voice — concluding most broadcasts with a booming, "Time … marches on!" — became synonymous with the program, both on radio and in the newsreel series.[1]:436–437

Written to match the style of Time magazine, radio scripts incorporated transcripts of statements and comments by the figures impersonated on The March of Time whenever possible. When these could not be obtained, writers were allowed to "re-create" appropriate dialogue. Actors researched and rehearsed with great care to mimic the precise voice patterns and characteristics of the people they were impersonating. March of Time creator Roy E. Larsen recalled that only one person, Franklin D. Roosevelt, ever complained about their treatment on the program. The President was annoyed because he was getting calls from political advisors regarding statements spoken on The March of Time that he had not uttered, even though they matched his policies. White House complaints continued until 1937, when The March of Time stopped imitating FDR altogether.[7]:14–15

"From the beginning it was known that The March of Time would face the stiffest production challenges that radio had yet known", wrote John Dunning:

When a big story broke at the last minute, a polished ready-to-air show was reorganized: the entire menu was shifted as events demanded. Newspapers are accustomed to this … but in radio, a new breed of actor had come to the fore, players who could deliver superb performances from scripts they had never seen before going live on the air. Sight reading, they called it: reading always two lines ahead and acting the lines they had already read. Actors, sound artists, and musicians worked feverishly to accommodate the bulletins from Time's reporters in the field.[1]:436

Seven or eight sketches were featured in each show, varying in length from 90 seconds to four minutes. Newspapers were sometimes scooped by the radio docudrama. On May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg disaster took place two hours before air time, and The March of Time created a segment that focused on the history of airship travel and ended with the news of the disaster in Lakehurst, New Jersey.[1]:436 Herbert Morrison's recorded radio eyewitness report from the landing field was not broadcast until the next day.


Although its cast was uncredited, The March of Time capitalized on the Broadway celebrity of Orson Welles in a 1938 advertisement. Months later Welles employed the series's techniques in his radio version of The War of the Worlds (1938), and he famously parodied the newsreel series in his first feature film, Citizen Kane (1941).
Name Notable roles Notes
William Adams Franklin D. Roosevelt [1]:434
Georgia Backus [1]:434
John Battle Huey Long, John Nance Garner, Southerners [1]:434
Harry Browne [1]:434
Art Carney Franklin D. Roosevelt [1]:434
Ray Collins [1]:434
Staats Cotsworth Franklin D. Roosevelt [1]:434
Pedro de Cordoba [1]:434
Ted de Corsia Huey Long, Herbert Hoover, Benito Mussolini, General Hugh S. Johnson, Pierre Laval, gangster roles [1]:434
Kenny Delmar [1]:434
Peter Donald Neville Chamberlain [1]:434
Arlene Francis [1]:434
Martin Gabel [1]:434
Porter Hall [1]:434
Juano Hernandez [1]:434
Marion Hopkinson Frances Perkins, Eleanor Roosevelt [1]:434
Ted Husing Narrator [1]:434
Leon Janney [2]:42
Edwin Jerome Joseph Stalin, Haile Selassie, King Alfonso of Spain [1]:434
Ted Jewett [1]:434
Bill Johnstone Franklin D. Roosevelt, Edward VIII, Cordell Hull [1]:434
Nancy Kelly Eleanor Roosevelt [1]:434
Adelaide Klein [1]:434
Myron McCormick [1]:434
John McIntire [1]:434
Herschel Mayall [1]:434
Gary Merrill [1]:434
Agnes Moorehead Eleanor Roosevelt [1]:434
Arnold Moss [1]:434
Claire Niesen [1]:434
Jeanette Nolan Eleanor Roosevelt [1]:434
William Pringle Charles Evans Hughes [2]:42
Frank Readick Cordell Hull, Jimmy Walker, Charles Lindbergh, Joseph Zangara [1]:434
Elliott Reid [1]:434
Charles Slattery [1]:434
Everett Sloane [1]:434
Jack Smart Huey Long [1]:434
Howard Smith [10]
Lotte Staviski [1]:434
Paul Stewart [1]:434
Karl Swenson [1]:434
Maurice Tarplin Winston Churchill [1]:434
Fred Uttal [2]:42
Westbrook Van Voorhis Narrator [1]:434
Harry von Zell Narrator [1]:434
Dwight Weist Fred Allen, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore [1]:434
Orson Welles Basil Zaharoff, Dionne quintuplets, Haile Selassie, amnesiac French soldier, Paul Muni, Fredric March. Spencer Tracy, Sigmund Freud [11]:333–342
Nona West [2]:42

Broadcast history

Unless noted, broadcast information for The March of Time is drawn from John Dunning's On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (1998).[1]:434

  • 1931–1935: CBS, March 6, 1931–April 26, 1935, 30 minutes. Fridays at 10:30 p.m. ET March 6, 1931–June 1931; Fridays at 8 p.m. July 1931 – 1933; Fridays at 8:30 p.m. 1933–1934; Fridays at 9 p.m. 1934–1935.
  • 1935–1936: CBS, August 26, 1935–September 25, 1936, 15 minutes. Weeknights at 10:30 p.m. ET.
  • 1936–1937: CBS, October 15, 1936–October 7, 1937, 30 minutes. Thursdays at 10:30 p.m ET.
  • 1937–1939: Blue Network, October 14, 1937–April 28, 1939, 30 minutes. Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET October 14, 1938–January 1938; Thursdays at 8 p.m. January–July 1938; Fridays at 9:30 p.m. July 8, 1938[12]–April 28, 1939.
  • 1941–1942: Blue Network, October 9, 1941–June 5, 1942, 30 minutes. Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET October 9, 1941–February 1942; subsequently Fridays at 9:30 p.m. or 9 p.m.
  • 1942–1944: NBC, July 9, 1942–October 26, 1944, 30 minutes. Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. ET.
  • 1944–1945: ABC, November 2, 1944–July 26, 1945, 30 minutes. Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Reviews and commentary

  • Orson Welles, This is Orson Welles — It was a marvelous show to do. Great fun, because, half an hour after something happened, we'd be acting it out with music and sound effects and actors. It was a super show — terribly entertaining. … I began as an occasional performer, because they had a regular stock company, and then I was finally let in — one of the inner circle. And then I had the greatest thrill of my life — I don't know why it thrilled me (it does still, to think of it now), I guess because I thought March of Time was such a great thing to be on. One day, they did as a news item on March of Time the opening of my production of the black Macbeth, and I played myself on it. And that to me was the apotheosis of my career — that I was on March of Time acting and as a news item. I've never felt since that I've had it made as much as I did that one afternoon.[11]:74
  • John Dunning, On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio — And like any good newspaper, it was damned left and right. Real newsmen condemned it for hamming up the news. Communists called it fascistic. William Randolph Hearst labeled it Communistic propaganda and forbade mention of it in the pages of his newspapers. It was banned in Germany, It even ran afoul of Roosevelt, who asked and later demanded that it stop impersonating him, because the actors were so good they were diminishing the impact of his Fireside Chats. It was accused of being pompous, pretentious, melodramatic, and bombastic. But it was never dull. In the mid-1930s, Time had Hooper numbers in the 25 point range.[1]:436

Awards and recognition

The March of Time was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1990.[13]

Newsreel series

Crowd in front of the Embassy Newsreel Theatre, a New York news cinema running Inside Nazi Germany (1938)

The companion newsreel series to the March of Time radio broadcast 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.

At its peak The March of Time was seen by 25 million U.S. moviegoers a month.[14]

Like its radio namesake, The March of Time included reporting, on-location shots, and dramatic reenactments. The editors of Time described it as "pictorial journalism". The March of Time's relationship to the newsreel was compared to the weekly interpretive news magazine's relationship to the daily newspaper.[15]

"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.[7]: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.[7]: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.[7]:162

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.[7]: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."[7]: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.[7]:172

The March of Time newsreel series ended in 1951, when the widespread adoption of television and daily TV news shows made the newsreel format obsolete. Other 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,[7]:335–342 and the HBO Archive's summary of The March of Time Newsreels.[16]

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[17]
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 selection 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
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 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
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

  • 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.[7]: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.[18]
  • 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.[7]: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.[19]
  • 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.[20]

Awards and recognition

  • The March of Time received an honorary Academy Award in 1937 "for its significance to motion pictures and for having revolutionized one of the most important branches of the industry — the newsreel."[21]
  • On October 27, 1937, The March of Time episode "Conquering Cancer" received the first Clement Cleveland Medal, established by the New York City Cancer Committee of the American Society for the Control of Cancer.[22] "Louis de Rochemont was especially proud of a letter he received from U.S. Surgeon General Parran crediting the film with providing a crucial influence in securing a federal appropriation for the National Cancer Institute", reported March of Time chronicler Raymond Fielding.[7]:170
  • "Inside Nazi Germany", a 1938 March of Time episode directed by Jack Glenn, was deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1993.[25]


Four feature-length films were produced by The March of Time.[7]: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).[26] It was followed by Crusade in the Pacific (1951).[7]: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.[27] The series was not successful.[7]:302

Cultural references

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.[28][29]

The 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.[30]

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.[7]:258–260

The Canadian documentary series The World in Action (1942–1945) was patterned after The March of Time newsreel series.[31]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw Dunning, John, On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1998 ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3 hardcover; revised edition of Tune In Yesterday (1976)
  2. ^ a b c d e Carskadon, Tom, "Time Marches On". Tower Radio, January 1935, at the Internet Archive
  3. ^ "Fred Smith, Radio Pioneer, Dies; Helped Create 'March of Time'". The New York Times, August 15, 1976
  4. ^ How 'The March of Time' Sells Typewriters,S.H. Ensinger. 1934, March 15.
  5. ^ — Series PremiereThe March of Time, Paley Center for Media; retrieved June 9, 2012
  6. ^ Catalog Record, The March of Time (Radio Program), New York Public Library; retrieved April 17, 2012
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Fielding, Raymond, The March of Time, 1935–1951. New York: Oxford University Press 1978 hardcover ISBN 0-19-502212-2
  8. ^ Hickerson, Jay, The Ultimate History of Network Radio Programming and Guide to All Circulating Shows, 1992, Box 4321, Hamden, Connecticut 06514, pp. 252–253
  9. ^ a b Mott, Robert L., Radio Sound Effects: Who Did It, and How, in the Era of Live Broadcasting. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1993 ISBN 0-89950-747-6
  10. ^ "Howard Smith, 73, An Actor, Is Dead; Performed for 50 Years in Vaudeville and on Air".  
  11. ^ a b Welles, Orson, and Peter Bogdanovich, edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum, This is Orson Welles. New York: HarperCollins Publishers 1992 ISBN 0-06-016616-9 hardcover
  12. ^ Life, July 11, 1938, page 65
  13. ^ The March of Time at the National Radio Hall of Fame; retrieved April 8, 2012
  14. ^ Gilling, Ted (May 7, 1989). "Real to Reel: Newsreels and re-enactments help trio of documentaries make history come alive".  
  15. ^ "Pictorial Journalism". The New York Times. February 2, 1935. 
  16. ^ Synopsis (PDF), The March of Time Newsreels, HBO Archives
  17. ^ "France: Motorist Moe"; Time, September 10, 1934
  18. ^ Crowther, Bosley, "Time Marches On and On: A Hurried Investigation of That High Potential Screen Feature." The New York Times, October 31, 1937
  19. ^ Genzlinger, Neil, "Time Marches … Backward!". The New York Times, September 2, 2010
  20. ^ Shales, Tom, "'March of Time' newsreels on Turner Classic Movies a gripping record of history". The Washington Post, September 4, 2010
  21. ^ The 9th Academy Awards, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; retrieved April 13, 2012
  22. ^ "March of Time Honored for War on Disease." The New York Times, October 28, 1937
  23. ^ The 14th Academy Awards, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; retrieved April 13, 2012
  24. ^ a b c d Academy Awards Database, American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  25. ^ National Film Registry, National Film Preservation Board, Library of Congress; retrieved April 8, 2012
  26. ^ Cook, Bruce, "Whatever Happened to Westbrook Van Voohis?" American Film, March 1977
  27. ^ The March of Time 1965–1966 at the Official Website of Producer David L. Wolper; retrieved May 24, 2012
  28. ^ "A Fine Romance".  
  29. ^ "A Fine Romance". The Dorothy Fields Website. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 
  30. ^ Barrett, William P., "March of Dimes' Second Act"; Forbes, November 19, 2008
  31. ^ Ohayon, Albert, "Propaganda Cinema at the NFB – The World in Action"; National Film Board of Canada (blog), September 30, 2009

External links

Radio broadcasts at the Internet Archive

  • 1938 Radio News — includes The March of Time from February 3 and February 10, 1938
  • 1940 Radio News — includes The March of Time from August 24, 1940
  • 1941 Radio News — includes The March of Time from November 20 and December 11, 1941
  • 1945 Radio News — includes The March of Time from February 22, March 15, March 22, March 29 and April 5, 1945
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