Best Documentary Movies of 1931
Intimate Interviews: Bela Lugosi
Actor Bela Lugosi discusses his career, his social life, and his feelings about his most famous role, Count Dracula.
Portrait of a Young Man in Three Movements
This is a non-narrative film, comprised of shots that "portray a certain young man in the terms of the things that he likes", such as the flow of the tide on a seashore, the motion of finely-tuned machinery, and sunlight shining through the fronds of a palm.
A Bronx Morning
Arrival in the Bronx is shown with a view from an elevated train as it enters the city. Then follows a montage of sights from the Bronx. Many typical neighborhood activities are shown, along with scenes from many local businesses.
How I Play Golf by Bobby Jones No. 11: Practice Shots
Golf expert Bobby Jones arrives on the golf course to join actors James Cagney, Anthony Bushell, Donald Cook, Evalyn Knapp, and Louise Fazenda in shooting a golf instruction film. Louise Fazenda however has no knowledge of golf and her ongoing commentary disrupts Jones's attempts to practice. While Cagney and Bushell hold Louise's mouth shut, Jones demonstrates his approach to golf. Later, upon arrival of director George Marshall, Louise is sent off "to practice" alone while the cast and crew go about shooting the film.
Grierson set out to make "propaganda," and this film--with it's voice-over proclaiming the great value of the British industrial worker, without a hint of ambiguity or doubt--fits that category well. The authoritatarian narrator feels out-of-date and unsophisticated, but the footage is well shot and interesting, and the transparency of the propaganda aspect is almost a reflief at a time when so many films have hidden agendas.
The Forgotten Frontier
The Forgotten Frontier (1931) is a documentary film about the Frontier Nursing Service, nurses on horseback, who traveled the back roads of the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States.
Intimate Interviews: James Cagney
Dorothy West, an interviewer for the New York-based filmed interview series "Intimate Interviews" calls up rising screen star James Cagney and asks for an interview. He agrees and she comes to his house. Cagney and West sit down while she asks him questions about his early life and his career.
Around the World with Douglas Fairbanks
With the advent of sound, the world's leading screen idol, Douglas Fairbanks, experienced a downturn in his fortunes. His thin, reedy voice was not suited to the talkies, his marriage to Mary Pickford was on the outs, and his son, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., had replaced him as a major box-office draw. Faced with the Hollywood equivalent of a mid-life crisis, Doug called up three of his best friends - director Victor Fleming, cinematographer Henry Sharp, and production manager Charles Lewis - and took them on a six-month tour of Asia, ostensibly to shoot a travelogue for United Artists (of which Fairbanks was still a major shareholder.) Their first stop is Honolulu, followed in quick succession by Japan, China, Peking, Hong Kong, Indochina, the Philippines, Siam, and India. Fairbanks and company spend time at such noteworthy spots as the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, the Summer Palace and the Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum.
Little Journeys to Great Masters
This short film provides a glimpse at famous art galleries of Rome, Florence, and the Vatican.
Screen Snapshots (Series 10, No. 8)
Pola Negri, Bebe Daniels, Mitzi Green, Polly Moran, Mack Sennett and Marjorie Beebe are seen relaxing at Palm Springs, a California winter resort; Barbara Stanwyck and Ricardo Cortez play golf; other celebrities are shown in Malibu Beach.