Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Halfway between a documentary and a wartime drama, RKO Radio's The Ramparts We Watch was the first feature-length production from Time Inc., the publishing firm responsible for RKO's March of Time newsreel series. Focusing on a "typical" American small town, the story takes place in the years between 1914 and 1918, just before the United States' intervention in WW1. Producer-director Louis de Rochemont draws several very pointed parallels between the complacency of the "teen" years and the isolationism preceding WW2, showing how a lack of preparedness for global war can lead to disastrous consequences. The film was lensed on location in New London, Connecticut, with several of the town's residents playing major roles. Just to make sure that the audience in 1940 knew what they'd be up against in the event of America's entry into WW2, DeRochemont incorporated several sobering clips from the Nazi-propaganda documentary Baptism of Fire. Based on a cautionary book by Major George Fielding Elliot, The Ramparts We Watch was narrated by March of Time mainstay Westbrook Van Voorhis.