This film is part of Free

Main Street U.S.A.

If fifth columnists took over what would Main Street USA look like? This issue imagines life in an American town controlled by the goose-stepping members of a Nazi ‘New Order’.

1942 18 mins


Two contrasting visions of life in a typical American town show what could happen to Main Street USA in a Nazi-dominated world. The imagined sequence, depicting a dystopian nightmare of concentration camps and death squads, is in stark contrast to the first part of the film, which shows members of an ordinary family each doing their bit to help the war effort: from volunteering as an air-raid warden to making scarves and jumpers in a ‘Bundle for Britain’ knitting drive.

With its determinedly interventionist stance, and never prone to understatement, March of Time’s vision of what American life might look like under Nazi rule is aimed at those US citizens still leaning towards isolationism. Taking the editorial line that freedom is a privilege, not a birthright, the film stresses the ultimate consequences of disunity. If the concentration camp recreation seems distinctly underwhelming - a handful of rather sheepish looking men and women standing behind a wire fence - the brief firing squad sequence makes its point with brutal efficiency. Hardly subtle, but rich in detail, the film’s power derives from the unapologetic conviction of its principles.