Cast & Crew
Louis De Rochemont
Using newsreel footage, this film shows the devastation of World War I and subsequent history that has been affected by the war. Segments of the film deal with the war itself, the new nationalisms that developed following the war, women's suffrage, economic problems, crime, Prohibition, umemployment, competition in armaments between the five great powers, the international movement toward permanent peace, the Round Table Conference, rioting in India for independence, and the Sino-Japanese conflict. Specifically, the war scenes emphasize the death, suffering and destruction from trench warfare, lethal gas, hand-to-hand combat, shrapnel and machine guns. Statistics are then given regarding the numbers of people killed or wounded. The new nationalisms in Europe are depicted in scenes showing Moscow during the Russian Revolution, Benito Mussolini speaking to crowds in Rome, and Adolf Hitler addressing a crowd in Berlin. Also in Berlin, Chancellor Heinrich Brüning talks to the masses. The complacence of France is discussed, and fighting in and around Shanghai is shown. Henry Berenger talks about world debt. Herbert Hoover announces a world moratorium, and Ramsay MacDonald discusses the subject. Tariffs are discussed by British politician Stanley Baldwin, and George Bernard Shaw speaks about the world situation. The League of Nations and the World Court are shown in session. During the rioting in India, police and soldiers are shown beating back the mob of people wanting independence. Henry Stimson and Jane Addams talk about peace, and the reduction of armaments conference is shown, after which military and naval maneuvers are depicted in various countries, including Japan, Italy, the United States, France and Great Britain. In the United States, the campaign for women's suffrage and its achievements are depicted with scenes showing Carrie Chapmann Catt attempting to get women to vote and Lena Phillips telling her feelings about the subject. Speakers talk for and against Prohibition, including Texas Senator Morris Sheppard, Mrs. Ella Boole, Mrs. Charles Sabin, Nicholas Murray Butler and Congressman La Guardia. The hunger march on Washington and Communist rioting in New York's Union Square are shown. Commissioner Edward P. Mulrooney speaks on crime. Two-Gun Crowley is shown as he is captured. Al Capone is taken to court. William Burns speaks on the evils of drugs. The Lindbergh baby, who was kidnapped, is shown.
According to the distribution contract for this film in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, Movietonews, which owned the newsreel clips used in this film, gave Fox the exclusive right to distribute the film theatrically, while they gave International Film Foundation the non-theatrical rights. Louis de Rochemont, who edited the film, was the originator of The March of Time, a monthly newsreel, which began in 1934, that combined newsreel footage and narration with staged, recreated events. According to reviews, the International Film Foundation had been recently formed to produce specialized teaching films and to assist educational institutions in the purchase of films. Its head was Dr. Wallace W. Atwood, the president of Clark University. According to Variety, the program for the film noted that the International Film Foundation was "an independent organization, non-partisan and non-sectarian. It is neither affiliated with nor controlled by the theatrical producers of motion pictures." New York Times remarked that the film contained some "ironical turns," including the placement of scenes of fighting in Shanghai after scenes of disarmament speeches, and the showing of military and naval maneuvers of various countries following scenes of the reduction of armaments conference. New York Times also commented concerning the audience reaction to the film: "It took prohibition to elicit any real applause or disapproval. Those who spoke for the drys were in disfavor with the great majority of the audience; so were those who smashed bottles of liquor. The speakers who urged the recall of the Eighteenth Amendment easily carried the night." The Motion Picture Herald reviewer stated, "There has been no picture ever that has brought to me so much of fearful reality as this Cry of the World." Film Daily stated that the film made "a profound impression," yet noted, "the picture suggests very little in the way of a remedy, and only a faint suggestion of hope for the future, and consequently is apt to send its audience home in a rather depressed state." According to modern sources, Beverly Jones and Sidney MacKean assisted Rochemont, and the film was a commercial failure.