This film is part of Free

Presidential Year

‘Crisp and sincere’,‘carefully trained’ or ’resonant and vibrant’? Which voice would appeal to you if you had to pick the Republican candidate for the 1948 Presidential Election?

Documentary 1948 15 mins


March of Time covers the 1948 US Presidential Campaign. The highlight of this film is the sequence in which the ‘voice appeal’ of each of the Republican candidates is assessed by speech expert Clarence Peters, who spins a selection of vinyl discs to show the effect the tones of Earl Warren, Thomas Dewey, Robert Taft & Harold Stassen might have on voters. In the end Dewey’s ‘musical’ voice was to win out over Warren - ‘better than average’ and Taft - ‘sincere but metallic’ - showing the importance of presentation in the age of mass media.

Incumbent Harry S. Truman - seen here in the White House with his cabinet - was widely expected to lose the 1948 Presidential election. The three way split in the Democratic Party - hinted at in the sequence showing left-wing candidate Henry A. Wallace’s Progressive Party, and the pro-Segregationist anti-New Deal Southern Democrats (or Dixiecrats) - was thought likely to open the way for a Republican victory. Truman’s eventual triumph is considered the greatest election upset in US history, and was the fifth successive win for the Democratic Party in Presidential elections.