This film is part of Free

General Douglas Macarthur; Geneva; The Invasion Of Ethiopia

A sinister, bearded figure walks the streets of Paris at dawn. Follow French public executioner Pierre Deibler, as he travels with his guillotine, to perform his deadly trade.

Anthology 1936 20 mins


This March of Time issue’s stories are told with a characteristic blend of seriousness and showmanship. The first story uses rapid editing and lively music to convey the speed with which the US army could mobilise its forces in case of invasion. A look at the lonely life of the French public executioner is grimly fascinating. Finally, Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia is illustrated with footage which conveys both the rapidity of Italy’s conquest and the powerlessness of the League of Nations.

The only genuine footage of Pierre Deibler in this issue is the film of the French executioner folding back the shutters of his apartment. These shots were filmed secretly, using telephoto lenses. The other scenes were filmed using an impersonator and edited together with the genuine footage to form an enjoyably creepy ‘day in the life’-style potted biography. The issue’s opening and closing pieces are more serious. The final story provoked a storm of controversy for its criticism of the League of Nations and sixty-one feet were deleted from the reel by the British censors, including a shot showing Mussolini in conversation with former Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald.