Newsreels were usually short news films one to two minutes each, with four to five items, and were often shown along with animated cartoons before the feature film. Disasters, celebrities and animals were the usual fare. None of it was terribly complicated or deep at first. But as the world crisis deepened in the 1930s, political propaganda became a staple the newsreels in most countries.
Pathe –– The company was founded as Société Pathé Frères (Pathé Brothers Company) in Paris, France on 28 September 1896, by the four brothers Charles, Émile, Théophile and Jacques Pathé. During the first part of the 20th century, Pathé became the largest film equipment and production company in the world, as well as a major producer of phonograph records.
An example of Pathe’s early work was this film about a working dog from 1908.
This Pathe newsreel shows the 1937 Hindenberg disaster, which was covered by all the major newsreel companies at the time.
Movietone — Originally Fox News, founded in 1919, then Fox Movietone News 1928 – 1963. A branch was British Movietone News. This 1940 newsreel depicts the Nazi invasion of Norway.
Hearst Metrotone newsreels began in 1919 as part of the Hearst International News Service. They were produced at Universal Studios in Hollywood. This one is a 1931 interview with Mahatma Gandhi.
March of Time newsreels were created by Time-Life company in the 1935 – 1951, somewhat contemporaneous with the same series on radio. This newsreel takes us inside Nazi Germany of 1938, noting at first how surprisingly prosperous it is, but depicting ruthless suppression of radicals, Jews and Protestant church dissidents. Note also the thousands of American Nazis taking part in the Bund activities and youth camps in the 1930s, and the narrator’s attitude towards them. This is an example of the kind of information war that precede a shooting war.
Paramount — 1927-1957 presented “The Eyes of the World” to movie audiences twice a week from the Paramount studios in Hollywood.
Universal –– 1929 – 1967 — Another Hollywood studio presenting news of the week to movie audiences. MCA / Universal released all 1,715 newsreels to the US National Archives in 1976, putting them into the public domain. A good overview of the newsreels is found here, at the Internet Archive. Here’s one of the newsreels about communication satellites: