This film is part of Free

Britain, Peace and Propaganda

The Magna Carta and George Washington’s family tree spearhead a propaganda campaign to win US hearts and minds as Britain prepares for war.

Documentary 1939 18 mins


This rousing look at British efforts to win American friendship in 1939 is given a novel twist by being seen through the lens of the newly formed Institute for Propaganda Analysis, nudging the viewer to take a more sceptical view of the idealised images of British pageantry on show at the New York World’s Fair. The final shot - a man doggedly hoeing his garden next to an Anderson shelter - suggests that more down-to-earth qualities will count in the coming conflict.

Beginning with a tour around the 1939 New York World’s Fair and taking a lively look at British efforts to win over American public opinion, the tone of this issue becomes darker towards the end, as an analysis of Britain’s troubled post-war years shows a country facing up to the inevitability of another conflict. March of Time’s rapid-cutting style was ideal for this type of historical summary: a montage of images of David Lloyd George, Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain, along with maps, archive footage and commentary compresses 25 years of history into ten minutes of film.