Best Documentary Movies of 1917
The Battle of the Ancre and Advance of the Tanks
The Battle of the Ancre and Advance of the Tanks (1917) is the official film of the British Army’s autumn campaign on the Somme, which ran from 15 September to 18 November 1916.
The Black Stork
A young man and woman are considering marriage; eugenicist Harry J Haiselden warns that they are ill-matched and will produce defective offspring. He is right; their baby is born defective, dies quickly and floats into heaven.
A Trip Through China
Documentary on the then-new Chinese Republic, taken over a ten-year period. Footage includes races at Shanghai, imperial ceremonies at the national Temple of Heaven, scenes of the destruction caused by the typhoon of 1914, and the installation of government officials at the Peking palaces.
The Adventures of Buffalo Bill
Western starring William F. Cody. A re-cut version of the 1914 film The Indian Wars. Both versions are lost.
How the Cowboy Makes His Lariat
Wild West performer Pedro Leon is the highlight of this three-minute film that shows how cowboys make rope and various other items. Within the three-minutes we learn that horsehair is the best thing to use so we see a couple men, including Leon, put the hair together and from here we see how they get it prepared to use for rope and other items.
The Key to Beauty
A lot has changed in the years since this promotional short film was made—but a lot hasn’t. Gym clothes have certainly improved, and exercise equipment is sleek and modern. But the message this film sends—“Ladies, the key to beauty is to be fit and be thin”—is still prevalent in 21st-century American society. The various exercises demonstrated here are designed to improve one’s health, posture, muscle tone, and according to the filmmakers, bring happiness.
The Latest Kinks in Canning
This short film about home-canning demonstrations sponsored by the New York State Woman Suffrage Party was made at the Bray Farm in Highland, Dutchess County, New York. Although it is over a hundred years old, the film remains relevant today. In 1917, women in New York State won the right to vote. The film cheekily notes that while the association hoped to enhance the ability of women in farm areas to improve their food conservation, it also looked for suffrage converts as well.
A documentary about life in Cape Cod which shows the streets of Provincetown as they were at the time. Children are featured playing hide and seek, ships with big masts are seen in the harbor and fishermen are filmed mending nets.
Women’s Munition Work
This early public information film puts out an appeal for more women to take up munitions work - showing training centres, opportunities for work in the aircraft industry as well as the tempting prospect of a fun social life. (source: British Film Institute)
A documentary film describing the family planning work of Margaret Sanger.