A 1943 episode of the American cinemagazine series The March of Time, entitled Inside Fascist Spain. The series was shown in British cinemas since its launch in 1935, and it has been suggested that its polemical style and detailed (compared to newsreels) coverage of the issues it explored, provided the inspiration for the Rank Organisation’s This Modern Age, launched in September 1946. Due mainly to copyright issues, very few March of Time issues and no This Modern Age issues are available online today. This issue only is because it was licensed by the US Government for non-theatrical screenings to service personnel, and under US federal law (17 U.S.C. § 105), everything held by the National Archives is in the public domain. Apologies for the poor image quality and incorrect pixel aspect ratio in which this video is presented (a technical glitch in the Internet Archive original, which I cannot correct in the embedding here), but it is about the only one online that comes close to illustrating the subject matter of this chapter.
This Modern Age and the British Non-Fiction Film
Based on research for my PhD dissertation, this article considers the origins and outputs of This Modern Age, a British cinemagazine produced by the Rank Organisation between 1946 and 1951. It argues that despite the series’s commercial provenance and the fact that it is frequently written off as a pale imitation of its better-known American counterpart The March of Time, This Modern Age was heavily influenced by the Documentary Movement and represented an attempt by Rank to establish a public service agenda.
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