This film is part of Free

The Gathering Storm

The possibility that the world could face another global conflict, with the added horror of nuclear weapons, forms the backdrop to this tense warning from the age of anxiety.

1950 16 mins


A dramatic camera pan across rows of concerned faces in Times Square shows the fear of a whole nation as the latest news from the Korean War is transmitted on the flickering neon of the ticker board. The doom-laden voice of the narrator warns of hard times ahead while a montage sequence showing President Harry S. Truman broadcasting to the American nation, gives a sense of a country fearful of a new global threat, in this tense March of Time broadcast from the early years of the Cold War.

Released three months into the Korean War (September 29th 1950) this issue must be seen in the light of the perilous early stages of that conflict. Although South Korea was on the point of defeat in August, by September of the same year UN forces had rallied, retaking Seoul following the amphibious assault known as the Battle of Inchon. Victory, however, was far from assured and much of this issue consists of a warning against complacency. A lengthy recap of the years leading up to America’s joining the Second World War laments the isolationism and indecision that had left the nation unprepared in 1941 and 1942: the clear message being ‘don’t let it happen again’.