Best Documentary Movies of 1934
Man of Aran
A documentary on the life of the people of the Aran Islands, who were believed to contain the essence of the ancient Irish life, represented by a pure uncorrupted peasant existence centred around the struggle between man and his hostile but magnificent surroundings. A blend of documentary and fictional narrative, the film captures the everyday trials of life on Ireland's unforgiving Aran Islands.
City of Wax
City of Wax is a 1934 American short documentary film produced by Horace and Stacy Woodard about the life of a bee. It won the Oscar at the 7th Academy Awards in 1935 for Best Short Subject (Novelty).
During his adventure in Mexico, Sergei Eisenstein made footage of a Mexican "Death Day" celebration for inclusion in his "Que Viva Mexico!" film project. When the 200,000-plus feet of film he eventually exposed in Mexico was first attempted to be made into a feature film, "Thunder Over Mexico", the producers excluded the Death Day material for subsequent compilation as an independent short subject. Silent with music track and explanatory English intertitles.
The Song of Ceylon
Ambitious documentary chronicling the cultural life and religious customs of the Sinhalese and the effects of advanced industrialism on such customs.
Strikes and Spares
This short features professional bowler Andy Varipapa. He first shows the correct way to grip a bowling ball and the proper form for delivering the ball down the alley. He then performs several trick shots.
The Hollywood Gad-About
A parade highlights the Screen Actors Guild's Film Stars Frolic, hosted by Walter Winchell as Master of Ceremonies.
The Story of the Wheel
The history of wheels, roads and vehicles from cavemen to the coming of steam.
Documentary following an Edinburgh fishing trawler, the "Isabella Grieg".
The First World War
Produced by the Fox Movietone News arm of Fox Film Corporation and based on the book by Lawrence Stallings, this expanded newsreel, using stock-and-archive footage, tells the story of World War I from inception to conclusion. Alternating with scenes of trench warfare and intimate glimpses of European royalty at home, and scenes of conflict at sea combined with sequences of films from the secret archives of many of the involved nations.
Short documentary showing the workings of a large London sorting office.
Technicolor tour of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.
John Atkins Saves Up
Combining a whimsical romantic tale, practical information about the Post Office Savings Bank, and a gently experimental film-making technique, this film entertainingly depicts some of the prospects opened up by having a savings account.
Shows the workings of Britain's Air Post service.
Short documentary about weather forecasting, emphasising the importance of the GPO's telecommunications systems.
Switzerland the Beautiful
In this Traveltalk series short we learn that four million ethnic French, German and Italian people live in Switzerland. The Alps and their important part in the country's history is noted. We view vividly-coloured alpine wildflowers which cover the mountain meadows in the spring. We see rushing mountain streams, fed by melting snows, and then learn of colourful alpine chalets and traditional wood-carving amongst other highlights.
This MGM Oddity features the 1933 National Football League champion Chicago Bears. The team demonstrates various plays, which are shown first in real time, then in slow motion.
The Hollywood You Never See
The making of Cleopatra (1934), showing pre-production, DeMille directing a scene, and the addition of music to the soundtrack.
Star Night at the Cocoanut Grove
Several members of MGM's 'galaxy of stars' attend an evening of music and a fashion show.
Zion: Canyon of Colour
This Traveltalk series short visits Zion National Park, Utah. Amongst the sights, we view the seven-hundred foot long Arch of Zion. To provide human access to the park, man-made structures are just as spectacular in their engineering accomplishments; these include the Mount Carmel Highway and Tunnel, and Zion Lodge.
Holland in Tulip Time
This FitzPatrick Traveltalks short visits Holland in springtime, going first to the below-sea-level fishing village of Volendam, then to the capital city of Amsterdam. We then turn our sights to the cultivation of flowering spring bulbs - tulips and hyacinths. No other country is as renowned for bulb cultivation as is Holland.
Roping Wild Bears
Wild bears that bother livestock are captured with ropes and shipped to zoos.
This short film provides highlights from American history, focusing on George Washington's farewell to the troops to the War of 1812.
Ireland: 'The Emerald Isle'
This Traveltalk visit to Ireland starts with a look at the countryside, with its farms, small villages, and fields with walls and fences built of stone without the use of mortar. We then visit Hope Castle in Castleblayney and end our journey in Galway.
Movie Memories #2
This film contains excerpts from for Paramount silent films: Blood and Sand (1922), The Covered Wagon (1923), The Miracle Man (1919), and Beau Geste.
Hitler's Reign of Terror
A documentary meant to show Americans what had been going on in Germany since Hitler's rise, centered on a fact finding trip by Cornelius Vanderbilt, with newsreel footage of book burnings and such.
MGM's March on in 1934-35 with Metro Goldwyn Mayer: Convention of the Century
In 1934, MGM held a convention in Chicago, inviting its company distributors from all over the United States to preview the films scheduled for the 1934-1935 exhibition season. After a welcome from studio executive Felix E. Feist, the people in each geographic division are introduced, and the chief of each division says a few words.
British potter Bernard Leach made 16mm films during his travels in Japan and Korea in 1934-35. In this short film, Leach is clearly fascinated by the special “Kuruma Ningyo” (cart-doll performance) practiced in Hachioji, a suburb of Tokyo. Commentary by puppeteer Nishikawa Koryu V was recorded at his rehearsal studio and added to the film.
Papermaking in Japan
In this short film Bernard Leach follows the papermaking processes at the workshop of renowned papermaker Abe Eishiro, one of the early members of the Mingei movement. The entire process of making Japanese washi in Yakumo Village, Shimane Prefecture, is shown. The voice of Abe Shinichiro, grandson of the Eishiro was recorded as commentary.
A silent film hagiography of the Grand Pré region of Nova Scotia. Title cards illuminate the historical plight of the Arcadians in the time of the Great Upheaval. An unknown actress portrays Longfellow's Evangeline.
The River of Death
A pictorial record of the Wanderwell's trip to the Brazilian jungle in search of Col. Fawcett who was lost in the wilds in 1925
A Call for Help from Sing Sing!
This plea to reduce the growing numbers of imprisoned youths, with its warning from the celebrated warden of Sing Sing prison, is drawn from the October 1, 1934, issue of Hearst Metrotone News. The segment’s dynamic visuals, on-camera personal appeal, and extended length make the story atypical for a newsreel, but the form’s usual breathless pace is applied to a cautionary fable: the too-frequent “road” of youth from school through unemployment, homelessness, and crime and on to the gates of the penitentiary. -National Film Preservation Foundation
A documentary looking at a day at Croydon Airport south of London.
Robert C. Bruce’s “Musical Moods” travelogues
One of the key works in creating the American social documentary film, this 1934 newsreel compilation crams a lot of information into just 11 minutes. Skillfully edited, the picture captures a panorama of international events centered on the labor movement. Scenes include Mussolini, Hitler and FDR preparing for war, Nazi soldiers persecuting German Jews, a political strike in Paris, the Scottsboro demonstration in Washington, DC, police violence against striking steelworkers in Pennsylvania and union members stopping scab workers from delivering milk during a dairy farmers strike in Wisconsin. Under the direction of pioneering documentarian Leo Hurwitz, the images are edited together to create a powerful image of a world that, in his view, desperately needed radical change.
Dealers in Death
This documentary film is a pacifistic polemic that presents the argument that the world's largest munitions works, principally those in Europe, work in conjunction with one another, even when their countries are wartime enemies. These munitions works, in the interest of making money, manipulate wartime conditions to prolong wars.
A short promotional film about Ruby Keeler and her upcoming film "Flirtation Walk." It provides a brief look at her career on Broadway, early films, and personal life away from the studio before showing a trailer for the new film.