THE MARCH OF TIME, 1935-1951 by Raymond Fielding

THE MARCH OF TIME, 1935-1951

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From 1935 to 1951, no one old enough to go to the movies could escape the thundering soundtrack and snappy images of the March of Time's monthly issues--neither newsreel nor documentary but a novel, highly influential form of film journalism. One can be grateful to Fielding, therefore, for the information he has amassed on the content of each issue; the roster of directors, cameramen, editors, writers; the occasional illumination supplied by the apparently exhaustive, mostly gripe-venting interviews; and especially for the descriptions of procedures and techniques. But as a study of a journalistic/film/public affairs phenomenon, this is a paltry business. Fielding worries the newsreel vs. documentary issue as if the March of Time hadn't been defined in its heyday by fellow film-makers Paul Rotha and John Grierson; he keeps suggesting that it was more liberal politically than the Luce connection would imply--one of the more obvious and most frequently recorded aspects of the series; he makes much, properly, of the controversial re-enactment of events, but without noting that many parts of Robert Flaherty's esteemed Nanook of the North and Louisiana Story were also faked. Internally, he adopts a supercilious attitude toward March of Time dynamo Louis de Rochemont who is tediously and gracelessly rendered as, in effect, King Louis the Quixotic. The few acute observations are quotes (notably from George Delder-field, then writing for the New Republic) and Fielding himself has nothing more vital to say in conclusion than ""the time,has come for a reappraisal."" To which one can only add, amen.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Oxford Univ. press