1926-1927 1927-1928 1928-1929 1929-1930 1930-1931 1931-1932 1932-1933 1933-1934 1934-1935 1935-1936 1936-1937 1937-1938 1938-1939
52 Pathé Review (1rl) 6 Great Events (2rl) 6 Great Events (2rl) 52 Pathé Review (1rl) 52 Pathé Review (1rl) 6 Cannibals of the Deep (1rl) 6 Broadway Gossip (1rl) 9 March of the Years (1rl) 1 Crime Does Not Pay (2rl) 6 Crime Does Not Pay (2rl) 3 Court of Human Relations (1rl) 6 Crime Does Not Pay (2rl) 6 Crime Does Not Pay (2rl)
6 Scandal of America (1rl) 2 Hampton Color Pictures (2rl) 12 Our World Today (1rl) 26 Screen Snapshots (1rl) 24 Screen Snapshots (1rl) 6 Fisherman's Paradise (1rl) 7 Pathé Review (1rl) 7 Pathé Review (1rl) 12 Pathé Review (1rl) 12 March of Time (2rl) 4 Crime Does Not Pay (2rl) 13 Floyd Gibbons Series (1rl) 13 Floyd Gibbons Series (1rl)
26 Screen Snapshots (1rl) 2 McCall Color Fashions (2rl) 52 Pathé Review (1rl) 26 Topics of the Day (1rl) 26 Voice of Hollywood (1rl) 2 Floyd Gibbons' Supreme Thrills (1rl) 8 Screen Snapshots (1rl) 7 Pathé Topics (1rl) 7 Pathé Topics (1rl) 12 March of Time (2rl) 8 Historical Mysteries (1rl) 2 Historical Mysteries (1rl)
52 Topics of the Day (1rl) 52 Pathé Review (1rl) 26 Screen Snapshots (1rl) 26 William J. Burns Detective Mysteries (1rl) 12 Pathé Reviews (1rl) 13 Screen Snapshots (1rl) 12 Pete Smith Miniatures (2rl) 7 Pathé Topics (1rl) 13 March of Time (2rl) 13 March of Time (2rl)
26 Screen Snapshots (1rl) 13 Screen Snapshots (1rl) 1 Pete Smith Specialty (1rl) 14 Pete Smith Specialties (1rl) 7 Pathé Parade (1rl) 10 Passing Parades (1rl)
26 Voice of Hollywood (1rl) 13 Screen Snapshots (1rl) 13 Pictorial Revues (1rl) 12 Pathé Review (1rl) 13 Pete Smith Specialties (1rl)
10 Voice of Experience (1rl) 13 Screen Snapshots (1rl) 7 Pathé Topics (1rl) 14 Reelisms (1rl)
16 Pete Smith Specialties (1rl) 12 Screen Snapshots (1rl)
13 Pictorial Revues (1rl) 4 Vyvyan Donner's Fashion Forecast (1rl)
12 Screen Snapshots (1rl) 4 Washington Parade (1rl)

The term “informationals” was in common industry parlance from the early 1920s and referred to any topic of informative or instructional value – travelogues, sports shorts, popular science films, and many more. In tone, too, they ranged from the moralizing of MGM’s Crime Does Not Pay series to the wry commentary of the same studio’s Pete Smith Specialties.

The drop-off in overall informational production between 1931 and 1933 can primarily be attributed to the decline of RKO Pathé, which had long specialized in general-interest “magazine” shorts like Pathé Review and Topics of the Day. The latter half of the decade would nonetheless see a renewed investment in this category of shorts, spearheaded in large part by MGM’s rebranded short subjects unit under Jack Chertok. Informationals served as valuable industry PR during this period, when they were often cited as evidence of the value of variety programming in the battle against double bills.

Given film historians’ interests in many of the subcategories within this field, I have opted to break some of them out under their own headings (“Science,” “Sports,” “Travelogues”). The rest are grouped here under the “Informationals” heading, including the aforementioned Pete Smith shorts, historical reenactments like Columbia’s March of the Years, fashion magazines like Fox’s Vyvyan Donner’s Fashion Forecast, and many others.