This film is part of Free

Crime and Prisons

A strikingly liberal plea for prison reform and a view of the Anschluss seen through the lens of NBC’s news machine.

Non-Fiction 1938 21 mins


The case for prison reform in the USA is presented in characteristically dramatic March of Time style, as degrading tasks like rock-breaking are contrasted with a plea for meaningful work to rehabilitate young offenders. The vigorous look at Hitler’s return to Austria following the Anschluss, uses the dictator’s own words from Mein Kampf as a warning of further steps to the domination of Europe.

Both stories show March of Time’s bold style and confident use of the medium. Shots of a clergyman benignly watching prisoners play table-tennis illustrates the brio with which March of Time presents its arguments for reform: even as the commentary insists that the prison is not ‘coddling’ its inmates, the footage risks suggesting the opposite. Nazi Conquest No.1 depicts the Anschluss with a combination of genuine footage and a reconstruction of NBC’s on-the-spot report by Max Jordan in Vienna. The dramatic presentation of NBC’s scoop gives a heightened sense of immediacy to the crisis.