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A History of Newsreels

This side used to have links to three online examples of newsreel fanfare music, which links are now gone. If you know of any such short sound clips (for free), please
let the webmaster know about it.
           screen shot for 'News On The March' parody in Orson Welles's "Citizen Kane" [1941]            short history


compilations & series



          The newsreel was a form of short documentary film common in the first half of the XXth Century, regularly released in movie theaters (usually twice weekly). They were a primary source of news, current affairs, and entertainment for millions of moviegoers until nightly television news programs supplanted their role in the 1950s. Newsreels are now considered significant historical documents, since they are often the only audiovisual record of historical and cultural events of those times.

Pathé invented the newsreel
1948 Feb 16: First nightly television news broadcast, "The Camel Newsreel Theatre" on NBC-TV, showing Fox-MovieTone newsreels narrated by John Cameron Swayze (which lasted to Oct 1956).
1951: TIME Magazine's newsreels "The March of Time" ended due to competition from tv news programs.
The Embassy Newsreel Theatre on Times Square, NYC opened in 1929 and showed newsreels exclusively until 1949; for some of that time, the theater was open 24/7.

Newsreel entry at Wikipedia
search DVDs on keyword 'newsreels' at Amazon

screenshot of logo for Fox Movietone News in USA      screenshot of logo for British Movietone News
Fox  Movietone  News
[USA 1928-63, U.K. 1929-79, Australia 1929-75]
Inspired by same-day footage of Charles Lindberg's historic flight shown in New York theaters; Movietone's weekly newsreels
were regularly narrated by journalist Lowell Thomas. The archived newsreel content is available for licensing from facilities
in New York City, North Carolina, and Los Angeles.

Movietone News entry at Wikipedia

Fox Movietone News archive in NYC
Fox News Movietone archive website
Australian Movietone News archive website

logo for Gaumont British newsreel service, circa 1920
Gaumont Sound News of Britain [est. May 1929]
'The Story of Gaumont Sound News' article at B.U.F.V.C. website

screenshot of logo for Noticiero I.C.A.I.C. Latinamericano
Noticiero I.C.A.I.C. of Cuba
Lacking formal training of any sort, Santiago Álvarez [1919-98] was appointed head of the fledgling Cuban Film Institute's
now-legendary newsreel division in 1959. Álvarez created 700 films, and under his command the banal and utilitarian newsreel
was transformed into a veritable laboratory of radical innovation.

Álvarez entry at WikipediaCinema of Cuba entry at Wikipedia

screenshot of logo for Pathé News       screenshot of logo for Pathé News       screenshot of logo for News Magazine of The Screen from Warner Pathé News       screenshot of 1953 logo for Pathé News
Pathé News [1910-1956]
Founded in U.K. in 1910; sold to R.K.O. Radio Pictures in 1931; sold to Warner Bros. in 1947;
ceased production in 1956 and assets sold to new entity Pathé Pictures, Inc.
Pathé News entry at Wikipedia

British Pathé News [1896-1976] Archive in London, U.K.

"Pathé Newsreels" [2010]
Complete DVD Set - Over 10 Hours on 4 DVDs
on-demand DVD-R [undated] for $23.99 from manufacturer

"The Story of British Pathé" [BBC4 Aug-Sept 2011]
4 hour-long episodes entitled 'The Birth of The News' 'The Voice of Pathé', 'Entertaining Britain', and 'Around The World'
BBC4's series homepageseries credits at IMDb

screenshot of logo for TIME Magazine's 'The March of Time' newsreels
TIME  Magazine's  'The March of Time'  newsreels
HBO Archival Collection of The March of Time, the monthly Time Inc. ...
The March of Time was an American radio news series broadcast from 1931 to 1945, and a companion newsreel series
shown in movie theaters from 1935 to 1951 (which ended due to competition from TV news programs).

screenshot of logo for Universal International Newsreel
Universal-International  Newsreel
[USA 1919-67; library donated to U.S. National Archives]
Universal Newsreel entry at Wikipedia

"The Ultimate Universal Newsreels Collection" [2010]
some content described as sub-standard quality, but there is no known better source
Complete Collection: 520+ newsreels on 8 DVDs
on-demand DVD-R [undated] for $42.99 from manufacturer
1930s Collection: 90+ newsreels on 1 DVD
on-demand DVD-R [undated] for $9.99 from manufacturer
1940s Collection: 210+ newsreels on 4 DVDs
on-demand DVD-R [undated] for $17.99 from manufacturer
1950s Collection: 115+ newsreels on 2 DVDs
on-demand DVD-R [undated] for $14.99 from manufacturer
1960s Collection: 95+ newsreels on 1 DVD
on-demand DVD-R [undated] for $9.99 from manufacturer

'News of The Day 1944' on DVD  "News of The Day, 1944" [undated]
includes footage of: The Battle of France; Yanks Clear Greenland of Nazis; The March of Dimes; Jungle War in Burma; Russian Battles; 5,000 Nazi Prisoners; Roosevelt; B-29s Over Japan; Gen. Douglas MacArthur; B-24 Liberators; Nazi Robot Bombing of England – and much more
T.H.A. Market b&w DVD-R [undated] 2 disks for $17.95 + s/h via Amazon third party

B o o k s

The American Newsreel Complete History book by Raymond Fielding  "The American Newsreel: A Complete History, 1911-1967" [1972]
by Raymond Fielding

McFarland & Co. 2nd edition 10x7 pb [5/2011] for $42.75
Univ OK Press 8¾x5¾ pb [1980] out of print/used
Univ OK Press 9x6 hardcover [6/72] out of print/used
Movietone Presents the Twentieth Century book by Lawrence Cohn  "Movietone Presents The Twentieth Century" [1976]
by Lawrence Cohn, Introduction by Lowell Thomas

Andre Deutsch, Ltd. pb [9/77] out of print/used
St. Martin's Press hardcover [7/80] out of print/used
St. Martin's Press hardcover [1976] out of print/used
The March of Time newsreels book by Raymond Fielding  "The March of Time, 1935-1951" [1977]
by Raymond Fielding

"The March of Time" was a C.B.S. Radio news program from 1931
to 1945 and a theatrical newsreel organization from 1935 to 1951

Oxford Univ Press 9¼x6 hardcover [11/77] out of print/used
"The March of Time" entry at Wikipedia

Compilations & Series
search DVDs on keyword 'newsreels' at Amazon

America Goes Over: World War I Newsreels on DVD  "America Goes Over: World War I Newsreels Deluxe Edition" [2008]
Contains 1918 title silent propaganda newsreel from the U.S. Army Signal Corps; later sound profile of General John J. Pershing; sound short "Crusaders of The Sky" about the Lafayette Escadrille and various 'glorious air battles'; plus selected silent newsreel footage of World War I
Periscope Film LLC on-demand b&w DVD-R [6/2008] 2 disks for $29.99 from manufacturer
The Golden Twenties newsreel compilation from March of  Time  
"The Golden Twenties" newsreel compilation [R.K.O. April 1950]
68-minute newsreel compilation "highlighting America's 'Jazz Age' by actual films seen in the period"; starts at the Armistice in 1918; the only personalities mentioned on IMDb & Amazon are Red Barber, Rudolph Valentino, Babe Ruth, Charles Lindberg, Jack Dempsey, Carrie Nation & General Pershing
Reel Enterprises b&w DVD [10/2007] for $8.85
credits at IMDb
The Golden Twenties newsreel DVD from Passport  "The Golden Twenties: A Lively Look At That Roaring Decade" [2006]
105-minute compilation of vintage newsreels and movie clips that show advances in aviation & the automobile, the start of Prohibition (and the rise of speakeasies), the sensational Scopes 'Monkey' Trial, the sexual liberation of the flappers, the advent of radio, and famous personalities of the Roaring Twenties: Charles Lindbergh, Harry Houdini, Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, Babe Ruth, Knute Rockne, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover
Passport color/b&w DVD [4/2006] out of print/used

"Vintage Newsreels: Hindenburg, War, Social Events of The 1920s To The 1940s" on DVD
Historical Archive on-demand b&w DVD-R [undated] for $14.95 from manufacturer

Bombing of Pearl Harbor Collection on DVD  "The Bombing of Pearl Harbor: A Collection of WWII Films & Newsreels Portraying The Japanese Attack On Pearl In World War II and U.S. Navy Life In Hawaii"
71-minute collection of six newsreels & short propaganda films, including "Crossroads of The Pacific" newsreel showing life in the Navy for those stationed at Pearl Harbor; "News Parade: Bombing of Pearl Harbor" [1942]; "World at War" [1942] showing the massacre of Ethiopia, the invasion of Austria & Czechoslovakia, the blitz of Poland, and the fall of France; "Avenge December 7 (Pearl Harbor)" [1942] war bond film; "Pearl Harbor" 2-minute newsreel segment; and "Pearl Harbor" [1942 short] made just after the bombing
Historical Archive on-demand b&w DVD-R [undated] for $14.95 from manufacturer

"Classic 1940s D-Day Films & Newsreels" on DVD [2006]
Quality Information Publrs 53-minute on-demand b&w DVD-R [2006] for $12.99 from manufacturer

"Classic Nuremberg Trials Newsreels, 1945-1946" on DVD [2007]
Quality Information Publrs 9-minute on-demand b&w DVD-R [2007] for $10.99 from manufacturer

TIME Greatest Events of The 20th Century book & video  "TIME: The Greatest Events of The 20th Century" [1999]
Restored & edited footage in 43 segments, 1900 to 1967 that document the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, the Atlanta premiere of "Gone With The Wind" [1939], the mellow sounds of Benny Goodman, the Kennedy assassination, and much more • not listed on IMDb
Time Magazine b&w VHS [1999] out of prodn/scarce
Time Inc. pb [1998] out of print/scarce
Time Inc. hardcover [1998] out of print/scarce

"The Unforgettable Fifties: The Newsreels" [Marathon 1996]
Unforgettable Fifties Newsreels on VHS - Fashions  
Unforgettable Fifties Newsreels on VHS - Inventions  
Set of seven 60-minute VHS tapes: Human Interests, Disasters, Inventions, Fashions,
Royalty, Faces of The Fifties & Sports Highlights
• not listed on IMDb
E.D.I. Video b&w VHS set [3/2000] 7 tapes for $16.93
Marathon Music & Video b&w VHS set [1996] 7 tapes - out of prodn/used
Volume 1: Human Interests
Marathon Music & Video b&w VHS [1996] for $7.99
Volume 2: Disasters
Marathon Music & Video b&w VHS [1996] for $7.99
Volume 3: Inventions
Marathon Music & Video b&w VHS [1996] for $7.99
Volume 4: Fashions
Marathon Music & Video b&w VHS [1996] for $7.99
Volume 5: Royalty
Marathon Music & Video b&w VHS [1996] for $7.99
Volume 6: Faces of The Fifties
Marathon Music & Video b&w VHS [1996] for $7.99
Volume 7: Sports Highlights
Marathon Music & Video b&w VHS [1996] for $7.99

"A Newsreel History of The Third Reich" [2005-2011]
Newsreel History of The Third Reich  Compiled from German newsreels which were made under the influence of Goebbels and the Ministry of Propaganda, these are by no means accurate histories but display the 'news' as received by the German people • not listed on IMDb
Volumes 1-5: From the End of The Great War To The Assault On The Mediterranean
Arts Magic b&w DVD set [7/2005] 5 disks for $35.99
Volumes 6-10: From The War With The Soviet Union To The Bombing of Paris, Part 1
Arts Magic b&w DVD set [6/2010] 5 disks for $35.99
Volumes 11-15: From The War With The Soviet Union To The Bombing of Paris, Part 2
Arts Magic b&w DVD set [3/2011] 5 disks for $26.49
Volumes 16-20: From The Hitler Youth Training School To The Final Days of WWII
Arts Magic b&w DVD set DVD [8/2011] 5 disks for $37.49

"History of The Newsreel"
Two volumes available directly from manufacturer A-1 Video's website
Volume 1: 90-minute DVD for $19.98 + s/h
Volume 2: 70-minute DVD for $14.98 + s/h

Videos  &  DVDs
search DVDs on keyword 'newsreels' at Amazon

"Watching The News - At The Tyneside Cinema" [undated BFI color short 7:44]

"Anything For A Thrill" [1937] /tt0134289/

"The Atomic Cafe" [indep March 1982]
Atomic Cafe  A collection of 1960s U.S. government-issued propaganda films designed to reassure Americans about surviving nuclear war. A film by Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty & Pierce Rafferty; featuring archival footage of actor Hugh Beaumont, Albert Einstein, Dwight D. Eisenhower, J. Edgar Hoover, Sen. Lyndon Johnson, Nikita Khrushchev, Douglas MacArthur, Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, atomic spies Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, Joseph Stalin, Lewis Strauss of the A.E.C., and Harry S. Truman
New Video Group color DVD [3/2002] for $13.41
Docurama Collectors Edition color DVD [11/2008] 2 disks for $28.57 extras?
New Video Group color VHS [3/2002] for $13.41
full credits at IMDbmovie entry at Wikipedia

"The Cameraman" [M.G.M./Loew's Sept 1928]
11x17 "Cameraman" mini-poster: no longer available  A clumsy still photographer becomes infatuated with a pretty office worker at M.G.M. Newsreels, so he
borrows a movie camera and tries to impress her (and M.G.M.) with his work.
69-minute silent feature
co-directed by Edward Sedgwick; co-directed by & starring Buster Keaton, with Marceline Day,
Harold Goodwin, Sidney Bracey & Harry Gribbon
available on DVD among several of the DVD collections on Buster Keaton Page 1
Warner Home Video b&w VHS [9/98] out of prodn/used
full credits from IMDbmovie entry at Wikipedia

"Fury" [M.G.M./Loew's May 1936] /tt0027652/
Passing through a small town, Joe is arrested for kidnapping; a lynch mob burns down the jail and Joe is believed killed. The incident has been captured on newsreel film and, for revenge, Joe urges his brothers to use the film to prove the mob guilty of his murder. Co-written & directed by Fritz Lang; co-written by Bartlett Cormack, based on a story by Norman Krasna; starring Spencer Tracy, Sylvia Sidney, Walter Abel, Bruce Cabot, Edward Ellis, Walter Brennan & George Chandler; listed on National Film Registry (1995)

"Goofy News Views" newsreel parody cartoon short [1945] /tt0150763/

"Headline Shooter" [R.K.O. Radio Pictures Oct 1933]
lobby card for 1933 movie "Headline Shooter"  A roguish & cynical ace newsreel cameraman meets a newspaper columnist who is too smart to fall for him unless he reforms. Directed by Otto Brower; based on the story "Muddy Waters" by Wallace West; starring Ralph Bellamy, Frances Dee, Jack La Rue, Gregory Ratoff, Wallace Ford, Robert Benchley, Betty Furness, Hobart Cavanaugh, June Brewster, Henry B. Walthall & Franklin Pangborn
DVD/Blu-ray not available • full credits at IMDb

"Hot News" [1928 silent] /tt0019024/ starring Bebe Daniels

"I Cover The War" [1937] /tt0029034/
Newsreel cameraman heads to North Africa to cover an Arab uprising against the British

"Ice-Capades" [1941] /tt0033749/
A woman-hating newsreel cameraman is assigned to cover an ice skater at Lake Placid, but he misses
his plane and instead films a beautiful anonymous skater in Central Park

"Ladies Crave Excitement" [June 1935] /tt0026593/

"Men of The Hour" [1935] /tt0026701/
Two rival newsreel cameramen are in love with the same woman

"Newsfront" [Roadshow Ent. Australia July 1978, USA May 1979]
Newsfront movie from Australia  The employees of Cinetone News scramble to distant parts of post-war Australia to produce content for the weekly newsreels shown to the dwindling interest of the movie-going public. Filmed in New South Wales, Australia; co-written & directed by Peter Weir; starring Bill Hunter, Wendy Hughes, Gerard Kennedy, Chris Haywood, John Ewart, Don Crosby, Angela Punch McGregor, John Clayton, John Dease, Bryan Brown & Lorna Lesley, with archive footage of Chico Marx, The Beatles, Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard & Pat Nixon; won 8 Australian Film Institute Awards, including Best Film & Best Director
Blue Underground widescreen color DVD [11/2005] for $5.73 with many extras
full credits at IMDbmovie entry at Wikipedia
'Newsfront' novelization by Robert Macklin  
"Newsfront" novelization [1978] by Robert Macklin
Sun Books mass pb [1978] out of print/scarce

"Nutty News" cartoon short [1942] /tt0035141/
Newsreel parody narrated off-camera by speech-hampered Elmer Fudd

"Porky's Snooze Reel" newsreel parody cartoon short [1941] /tt0034052/

"The Reel World of News" [P.B.S. 1983?]
Episode 4 of "A Walk Through The 20th Century with Bill Moyers"
The Reel World of News video  The newsreels purported to give moviegoers 'the news of the day'. What kind of news were they getting? Co-produced by David Grubin; with Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee; the series won an Emmy Award in 1984 and a Peabody Award in 1985
P.B.S. Home Video color VHS [undated] out of prodn/scarce
series credits at IMDbseries producer official site

"Robert Capa: The Man Who Believed His Own Legend" [TV 2004] /tt0441684/

"San Francisco General Strike" [Pathé News 1934]
Newsreel footage of the 1934 general strike in San Francisco, California, backing the longshoremen's strike.
watch free online at Internet Archive: Part 1 [1:37]Part 2 [1:03 truncated]

"Too Hot To Handle" [M.G.M./Loew's Sept 1938]
Too Hot To Handle 1938 movie starring Clark Gable, Myrna Loy & Walter Pidgeon  One of MGM's biggest hits of the year. When a sly newsreel reporter in China meets a female pilot, he gets her hired as his assistant; but she doesn't trust him until their assignment in South America. Directed by Jack Conway; starring Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Walter Pidgeon, Walter Connolly, Leo Carrillo, Johnny Hines, Virginia Weidler, Betty Ross Clarke, Henry Kolker, Marjorie Main, Chris-Pin Martin & Gregory Gaye
Warner Bros. Archive Collection b&w DVD [6/2009] for $21.99
M.G.M. Home Video b&w VHS [9/98] for $9.95
full credits at IMDb

"2200 Men Out On Strike" [Universal News 1935]
Newsreel footage of the auto plant strike in Toledo, Ohio
watch clip [1:04] free online at Internet Archive

"Watch The Birdie" [1950] /tt0043120/
Red Skelton as an inept newsreel cameraman, with Arlene Dahl & Ann Miller


"Why We Fight" Series [1943-45]
Why We Fight series  Produced for showing to new recruits and also released to theaters. The seven chapters are: "Prelude To War" [1943], "The Nazis Strike" [1943], "Divide & Conquer" [1943], "The Battle of Britain" [1943], "The Battle of Russia" [1943], "The Battle of China" [1944], and "War Comes To America" [1945]. Produced & co-directed by Frank Capra [1897-1991] and co-directed by Anatole Litvak [1902-74] & Anthony Veiller [1903-65] for the U.S. Army Signal Corps; listed in National Film Registry (2000)
Gaiam Americas DVD boxed set [2/2009] 4 disks for $9.49
Goodtimes DVD boxed set [3/2001] 4 disks out of prodn/used
not available on DVD • Rhino b&w VHS boxed set [8/98] 7 tapes for $37.98

"Yesterday's Witness: A Tribute To The American Newsreel" [Pacific Arts Feb 1977]
Yesterday's Witness / Tribute To The American Newsreel docufilm  52-minute docufilm produced & directed by Christian Blackwood;
written by Raymond Fielding; featuring Lowell Thomas, Ed Herlihy,
Harry von Zell & Jack Shaindlin
not available on DVD • Pacific Arts Video color/b&w VHS [undated] out of prodn/scarce
credits at IMDbwatch short excerpt [4:10] at YouTube

"Zelig" [1983] starring Woody Allen, John Buckwalter, Mia Farrow

Newsreel  Links
Newsreel entry at Wikipedia
search DVDs on keyword 'newsreels' at Amazon

Third World Newsreel [est. 1967] activist filmmaker collective
Embassy Newsreel Theatre on Times Square, NYC {Time Magazine article 18 Nov 1929}
Steven Schoenherr's History of The Newsreel page
Tyneside Cinema newsreel theater [est. 1937] in Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.

here on the History of Newsreels Page at Magic Lantern Video & Book Store

top of page  ••  short history  ••  books  ••  compilations & series  ••  videos/DVDs  ••  links

˜                    ˜

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