Segments in this Video

An Introduction to Newsreels and Their Beginnings (02:48)


Set against clips from early newsreels, Bill Moyers introduces viewers to their origins in movie theatres, and shares his personal memories of this particular form of media. alternate ending 456

Ed Herlihy, the Voice of the News (02:02)

Newsreels with particularly light and even silly subject matter, emphasize the "show biz" quality of the first newsreels. Ed Herlihy, the voice of universal news, calls newsreels the "television of its day" and gives some history on the newsreels..

World War II News Paired with Entertainment Geared Towards Men (02:56)

Manufactured soundtracks to go along with real war footage gave people some understanding of war. Other newsreels staples included sports updates and footage of "girls in bathing suits."

Sports, Space, and Fashion in the News (02:25)

The 1950s Russian/American Space Race was documented in newsreels with the help of animation. Newsreels were known for their entertainment value and often commented on sports and fashion.

Motion Picture Studios and their Influence on the News (02:32)

Tom McMorrow, a former Paramount News contact man, describes the studio's motives behind the news they shot and the "overblown" theatrical style of the news.

The Music of the Newsreels (02:38)

A former music department staff member plays old soundtracks and demonstrates how the same songs were paired with many different clips of footage.

1940s: Newsreel Cameraman is "King" (04:59)

Dennis Bassoni, a former cameraman, discusses his strategies for capturing an event on film and describes cinematic risk-taking that is unthinkable today.

Filming the Hindenburg (03:31)

McMorrow comments on the candor and roughness of most cameramen. Dennis discusses filming disastrous events, including the explosion of the Hindenburg.

Coverage of the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping (03:22)

Announcements of the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby were captured on newsreel as were shots of the trial to convict the kidnapper

The Purposeful and Accidental Preservation of Old Newsreels (03:42)

Old newsreel footage was found in Dawson City, Canada in a landfill, preserved as a result of the extreme cold. The footage is varied, random, and sometimes unexplainable, but it captures the essence of an era.

Newsreels and the Great Depression (02:16)

Bill Moyers discusses the escapist nature of Depression-era newsreels.

Commercial Newsreels and the Bonus March of WWI Veterans (02:47)

Bassoni discusses the obstacles in filming the politically controversial Bonus March of veterans in Washington, D.C.

The Workers Newsreel (04:06)

Documentarian Leo Seltze discusses the pressure for the media to ignore the Depression. He worked for the Workers Newsreel, a production company that attempted to candidly document the Depression and distribute film across the country.

Opposing the Government's Point of View in the News (01:51)

Seltzer and the Workers Newsreel had a different take on the Bonus March than did commercial newsreels, placing them at odds with the journalistic status quo.

Entertainment-Based Journalism (03:56)

Reels advertising the atomic bomb and reels portraying dancing chickens have similar sensational tones. The intent of the newsreels was to "spell-bind."

End of the Newsreel Era (01:40)

The advent of television, which announced the news daily, made the newsreels obsolete.

Worlds Fair Time Capsule : Eternalizing Newsreels (02:21)

At the 1939 Worlds Fair in New York, a time capsule was buried with instructions to be opened in the year 6939. Inside, along with other relics, are newsreels and the instructions for building a film projector.

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The Reel World of News

Part of the Series : A Walk Through the 20th Century with Bill Moyers
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $149.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $224.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $149.95



In 1911, the first newsreels flickered in America’s nickelodeons. In the mid-1960s, they vanished from movie theaters as nightly television newscasts came to dominate visual journalism. In between, newsreels grew into a unique 20th-century institution that informed and entertained whole generations. In this program, Bill Moyers conducts a tour of the cultural and political landscape so dramatically rendered by the American newsreel. Accompanied by a rich tapestry of archival clips, Moyers talks with the announcers, composers, and cameramen who still relish memories of jostling and hustling to catch the parade of history on film. (53 minutes)

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL42058

ISBN: 978-1-62102-053-0

Copyright date: ©1984

Closed Captioned

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