The film begins in the spring of 1940, just before the Nazi occupation of the Benelux countries, and ends immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It chronicles how the people... See full summary »


(as Edward Cahn)


(original story and screenplay)
Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
John Nesbitt ...
Narrator (voice)
Raymond Gram Swing ...
Himself (voice) (archive sound)
Neville Chamberlain ...
Himself (voice) (archive sound)
H.V. Kaltenborn ...
Himself (voice) (archive sound)
Himself (archive footage) (as Franklin Delano Roosevelt)
Himself (voice) (archive footage)
George C. Marshall ...
Himself (archive footage)
William S. Knudsen ...
Himself (archive footage)
Harold R. Stark ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Admiral Harold R. Stark)


The film begins in the spring of 1940, just before the Nazi occupation of the Benelux countries, and ends immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It chronicles how the people of "Main Street America", the country's military forces, and its industrial base were completely transformed when the decision was made to gear up for war. Original footage is interspersed with contemporary newsreels and stock footage. Written by David Glagovsky <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

world war two | See All (1) »


Short | History





Release Date:

10 January 1942 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Featured in The Great American Mug (1945) See more »


You're in the Army Now
Music by Isham Jones
Played briefly during the modernized army sequence
See more »

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User Reviews

A Little Film Of Great Significance
8 February 2002 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

Roused from somnambulistic lethargy to defend herself against unspeakable evil, a mighty nation would make foreign tyrants fear the sound of MAIN STREET ON THE MARCH!

Here is a tremendous example of the power of film when expertly crafted. It is also an invaluable video document of the situation in America at one of the supremely pivotal moments of her history. Blending documentary footage with Studio shots, the film quickly paints a snapshot portrait of the country and its moods in the months leading up to active participation in World War Two.

Conceived by MGM as a stern warning against American neutrality in response to the threats of Axis aggression, the film was virtually ready for release when the Japanese Empire made its sneak attack against Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Producer John Nesbitt hastily rewrote & recorded the new narration, without altering the existing music or sound effects. The emotionally stirring result was considered so forceful that MAIN STREET ON THE MARCH! was awarded the Academy Award for best two-reel short subject of 1941.

A sequel, MAIN STREET TODAY, was produced in 1944.

After Pearl Harbor, Hollywood went to war totally against the Axis. Not only did many of the stars join up or do home front service, but the output of the Studios was largely turned to the war effort. The newsreels, of course, brought the latest war news into the neighborhood theater every week. The features showcased battle stories or war related themes. Even the short subjects & cartoons were used as a quick means of spreading Allied propaganda, the boosting of morale or information dissemination. Together, Uncle Sam, the American People & Hollywood proved to be an unbeatable combination.

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