Fox Movietone News: The War Years

Moving Image Research Collections

“Fox Movietone News: the War Years, 1942 – 1944,” a collaboration between the University of South Carolina and the Library of Congress, provides online access for the first time to over two hundred Fox Movietone News newsreels released in American theaters from September 1942 through August 1944. Before the era of television news broadcasts, newsreels were shown in theaters across the country to inform and entertain audiences. During the war, two newsreels per week were released by each of the five major American newsreel companies (Fox Movietone News, Universal News, Hearst News of the Day, Paramount News, and Pathé News).

These 8 to 10 minute Fox Movietone News newsreels record how the world appeared on screen to the American public during the war. As a whole, the collection helps us better understand how the war was waged on the home front. The films reveal a concerted effort to sustain a sense of “normalcy” in America even as war ravaged much of the globe. Battlefield victories (and losses) were interspersed with beauty pageants and ball games. But even when light-hearted news dominated much of a newsreel, the war was an inescapable reality.

In addition to the released newsreels, “Fox Movietone News, the War Years, 1942 – 1944” provides users access to the archival paper records associated with each theatrical release. Like any newspaper or magazine, newsreels rejected many stories for publication. These paper records (also known as “dope sheets”) help us to look into the editorial decisions made by the staff at Fox Movietone News. Knowing which stories were rejected for a particular newsreel provides valuable insight into editors’ rationale for selecting stories for theatrical release.

The Fox Movietone News newsreel library covers American and global events from 1919 to 1963. The Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation donated a large portion of this treasure trove to the University of South Carolina in 1980, dividing the library into two parts. Twentieth Century Fox has placed its remaining portion of the library with the Library of Congress.

Together we seek to preserve and make accessible to the public in its entirety this priceless historical record of the twentieth century. The released newsreels available in “Fox Movietone News the War Years, 1942 – 1944” represent only the tip of an iceberg containing over five thousand hours motion picture film waiting to be viewed.

To help make the entire collection available online, contact the Moving Image Research Collections, (803) 777-6841, or the University Libraries Development Office, (803) 777-1909.

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