Best Documentary Movies of 1934
Man of Aran
For the last 200 years the Aran Islands have exercised a powerfully romantic fascination on the outside world which is without equal anywhere else in the country. They 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. This myth, strengthened by the writings of Yeats and especially Synge was hugely expanded by the release in 1934 of Man of Aran, a documentary on the life of the Island people. This film won international acclaim and explained in no small way why so many different nationalities walk the surface of Aran in their thousands between May and October each year.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.