British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Main Street, U.S.a.


Series Name
The March of Time 7th Year


Issue No.
Date Released
Jan 1942
Stories in this Issue:
  1. 1Main Street, U.S.a.


Story No. within this Issue
1 / 1
The March of Time synopsis: With some conveniences and most luxuries now almost unobtainable in U.S. stores and ships, the March of Time shows, rising prices are making even the necessities of life expensive. Contributing to the scarcity of goods and commodities is the overnight transformation of U.S. industry from the production of the normal merchandise of peace to the destructive weapons of war. To millions of plain U.S. citizens, the March of Time shows, the war has brought a new sense of individual responsibility. In every section of the country - even in the traditionally isolationist Middle West - U.S. citizens are now able to envision the tragedy that has already befallen millions of the world’s people and are gaining in determination and growing in strength to meet the future. In "Main Street, U.S.A." the March of Time shows how the Davises - a typical American family of six - are today sacrificing their time and energy to work as volunteers in civilian defence; how, like countless thousands of their fellow Americans, they are helping to win victory and make secure their country’s freedom and future prosperity.

In the film, Bill Davis, the father of four children, serves as an Air Raid Warden and leader of civilian defence in his neighbour-hood. His eldest son, 24, is a corporal in the army. His younger boy, 18, is enrolled under the CAA learning to fly and hoping to get into the Army, Navy or Marine Corps later on. Bill Davis’s Girl Scout daughter Carol, 15, collects scrap tinfoil and aluminium; books and games for soldiers. And, like her mother, daughter Jane helps the Red Cross - if she isn’t helping to entertain the troops.
In terms of the Davises, the March of Time shows the work of the various organisations which are contributing in one way or another to the nation’s effort. Exactly what they are all trying to prevent is ably summed up in a brief speech by Bill Davis, presented in conjunction with a specially re-enacted sequence showing what life would be like in America if Hitler were permitted to impost his well-advertised "New Order" there. U.S. newspapers radio stations and even the mails are shown in operation under the supervision of "New Order" officials. Transportation and communication systems are for the exclusive use of the party and its military machine. Finally, the film shows what happens to those who have the courage to protest against the new tyranny. Americans are seen in concentration camps, and hostages are lined up before firing squads. Although it is agreed that today’s happenings in the Nazi-conquered countries of Europe look fantastic when reconstructed on Main Street, U.S.A., most Americans now fully realise the peril their country is facing, and are earnestly resolved that out of the war which has engulfed the world, they will emerge to live once again - in peace, in plenty and in the light of freedom.
Researcher Comments
This story was included in Vol.8 No.4 of the US edition.
Civil defence; War and conflict
Written sources
Documentary News Letter   Vol.3 No.1 January 1942, p5.
Fielding, Raymond. The March of Time 1935-1951 (New York, 1978)   p271.
The March of Time Promotional Material   Lobby Card, Used for synopsis
Production Co.
Time Inc.

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