This film is part of Free


This ode to New York from March of Time shows us how seven and half million people from every race and nationality in the world, live, work and play together in ‘the greatest metropolis of the New World’.

Documentary 1939 18 mins


March of Time's ode to a city :a rush of images and words communicates the excitement and modernity of New York City in 1939. The central section of the issue ventures inside the New York Police Department, showing how Mayor LaGuardia and Commissioner Valentine have rooted out corruption and smashed the link between the police and organised crime. Despite a brief mention of slums and poverty in Harlem, the overwhelming message is one of assertive confidence and pride in ‘the greatest variety show on earth’.

For this issue, the New York Police Department allowed cameras behind the scenes, letting viewers see New York’s Finest at work for the first time. We see evidence analysis in the research lab, a crime scene investigation and the fingerprinting of a suspect. The footage of, and commentary on, the city’s 166 women police officers show attitudes that were very much of the time: the women officers are chosen for ‘poise and personality’ and ‘most effective when they look least like officers of the law’. The fast-cutting March of Time montage style is taken to the limit in this issue: the cumulative effect of hundreds of shots gives an overwhelming sense of the city’s teeming vitality.