Friday, September 3, 2010

The March of Time

Time Inc. Created the newsreel The March of Time in 1935. An early foray at tele-journalism, several of the techniques pioneered by this successful featurette (they were continued through the early fifties) may be considered deceptive, or even unethical. Events were often re-created, performed by actors - or sometimes by the actual participants - on sets or soundstages far from the site of the actual stories, without any explanation that this was being done.

In addition, the stentorian, God-On-High voice of Westbrook Van Voorhis lent a heightened or exaggerated sense of importance to the proceedings. Orson Welles famously lampooned these films in Citizen Kane, providing entertaining exposition through a newsreel called News On The March.

The Cleveland Press drew a direct comparison to these newreels in their March 28, 1936 review of The Living Newspaper:
With simple staging and unique lighting, "The Living Newspaper dramatizes news events - local, national, and international - in an incisive and compact March of Time manner."
This comparison was also made in Variety.

A number of March of Time films will be broadcast this weekend on Turner Classic Movies (see today's New York Times for more details.)

The Cleveland Press
The New York Times

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