The March of Time Outtakes: Dixie USA and Metropolis

One of five major newsreel companies, The March of Time produced and released newsreels that were shown in movie theaters, once a month, from 1935 until 1951. While making newsreels, The March of Time filmed multiple takes. The footage that was not released to theaters was saved as outtakes that are now preserved at the National Archives. Although outtakes were not used in the finished story, the footage is often of good quality and historical significance. The topics can range from the US government’s influence on agriculture since World War I to international concerns related to World War II, and from air raids to postwar re-conversion adjustments in business, industry, education, housing, entertainment and other areas.

Stills from outtakes of “Dixie, U.S.A.” and “Metropolis,” two 1939 episodes of The March of Time

Here are three examples from the March of Time outtakes from 1939. The footage is silent with multiple shots, however, the production quality is good and the subjects include shots of Richmond Virginia, Charleston South Carolina and New York City neighborhoods. The footage of Richmond includes street scenes and segregation signs. The New York City footage includes Chinatown, Harlem, Garment District, Little Italy, Jewish, Greek, and Syrian neighborhoods. Besides street life there are shots of Jewish-American Boy Scouts, the Harlem River Housing Project and the Queensbridge Housing Project under construction.

MT-MTT 691 O,X: “Outtakes from “Dixie, U.S.A”  (Richmond, Virginia and Charleston, South Carolina )” April 1939. Shots of Richmond street scenes and segregation signs. Shots of Charleston street scenes, Charleston Lane and Battery Park

MT-MTT 710 FF,GG,HH: “Outtakes from “Metropolis 1939″ (New York City),”
July 1939, Chinatown, Jewish Section, Little Italy

MT-MTT 710 II,JJ,PP: “Outtakes from “Metropolis 1939″ (New York City)”  July 1939. Shots of Syrian, Spanish and Greek stores, Harlem, Garment District

In 1974, March of Time deeded the outtake collection to the United States through the National Archives, without restrictions. Users should be aware that some stories may contain other underlying intellectual property or proprietary use rights.

The footage is available for self-service in the research room at Archives II in College Park, Maryland. The catalog is available on microfilm and searchable DVD. The catalog is arranged by subject, title and numerically.