"Show Business at War" (The March of Time volume 9, episode 10). 1943. USA. Courtesy of Home Box Office, Inc.

For the better part of two decades movie audiences were informed and entertained by The March of Time, monthly installments of propaganda-flavored “newsreels” that combined actuality footage with reenactments. The March of Time expressed the worldview of Time magazine creator Henry Luce, who candidly described the series as “fakery in allegiance to the truth.” Relying on the omniscient narration of Westbrook Van Voorhis, the series had an enormous impact; it won an Oscar in 1937 and was satirized by Orson Welles in Citizen Kane. Even the MoMA Film Library was deemed a worthy subject for examination in a 1939 newsreel. As historian Raymond Fielding described it, “Time editorialized openly, infuriating its enemies and oftentimes alienating its friends. And it did all this with vigor, artistry, and showmanship.” This sampling of “Time capsules” from a distant but eerily similar era reminds us that “time [still] marches on!” All films were produced in the U.S.

Organized by Charles Silver, Curator, Department of Film. Presented courtesy of Home Box Office, Inc.

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