Best Documentary Movies of 1936


Night Mail

6.8/10 IMDB

This documentary short examines the special train on which mail is sorted, dropped and collected on the run, and delivered in Scotland on the overnight run from Euston, London to Glasgow.

Starring: Arthur Clark, John Grierson, Stuart Legg, Robert Rae ..
Directed by: Harry Watt, Basil Wright
Release date: 1936-01-13
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Hollywood - The Second Step

Hollywood - The Second Step

6.3/10 IMDB

This short follows the early career of actress Jane Barnes. She starts by doing extra work. After several months she is offered a studio contract (the "first step"). However, her work consists mostly of fashion shoots and bit parts that end up on the cutting room floor. She is even used as a stand-in for Maureen O'Sullivan on the set of a Tarzan movie when camera angles and lighting must be set up.

Starring: Carey Wilson, Jane Barnes, Maureen O'Sullivan, Francis X. Bushman Jr., Chico Marx ..
Directed by: Felix E. Feist
Release date: 1936-06-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Rio de Janeiro 'City of Splendour'

Rio de Janeiro 'City of Splendour'

6.6/10 IMDB

This Traveltalks short showcases the sights and sounds of Rio de Janeiro, emphasizing its Portuguese influence.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1936-04-18


6.2/10 IMDB

This documentary celebrates the pioneering labors of early Jewish settlers in Palestine. With striking visuals and a remarkable soundtrack the film records the technological and agricultural accomplishments of the pioneers and extols the idea of a socialist Jewish state. Footage includes shots taken at the Jaffa port and on various kibbutzes of the time; Lerski's expressive style creates an almost mythic image of the Jew in Palestine, toiling and triumphing amidst the sweeping desert landscape.

Directed by: Helmar Lerski
Release date: 1936-01-19

Cherry Blossom Time in Japan

6.2/10 IMDB

In this Traveltalk short, the symbolic role of cherry blossoms in Japanese culture is explored as well as the traditional Japanese religions of Shintoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1936-03-21

Master Hands

6.1/10 IMDB

Documentary short film showing the production of cars at a Chevrolet factory in the mid 1930s.

Release date: 1936-06-23
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : The Plow That Broke the Plains

The Plow That Broke the Plains

6.2/10 IMDB

A documentary about what happened to the Great Plains of the United States and Canada when uncontrolled farming destroyed the soil and led to the Dust Bowl.

Starring: Thomas Chalmers, Bam White ..
Directed by: Pare Lorentz
Release date: 1936-05-10

Eternal Forest

6.0/10 IMDB

Intended as a cinematic proof for the shared destiny of the German woods and the German people beyond the vicissitudes of history, Ewiger Wald portrays a perfect symbiosis of an eternal forest and a likewise eternal people firmly rooted in it between Neolithic and National Socialist times.

Directed by: Hanns Springer, Rolf von Sonjevski-Jamrowski
Release date: 1936-06-16
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Harnessed Rhythm

Harnessed Rhythm

6.2/10 IMDB

This Sports Parade series entry follows the life of Dixie Dan, a harness racehorse, from birth through age three.

Starring: Pete Smith ..
Directed by: Jacques Tourneur
Release date: 1936-06-06
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : The Jonker Diamond

The Jonker Diamond

6.0/10 IMDB

Re-enactment of how the 726-carat Jonker diamond was discovered in South Africa in 1905 by the family of Jacobus Jonker; how it was sold to Harry Winston; and how it was cut by Lazarre Kaplan.

Starring: Pete Smith, Nat Carr, John Hyams, Hugh Marlowe, Louis Mason, Louis Natheaux ..
Directed by: Jacques Tourneur
Release date: 1936-03-27

Screen Snapshots (Series 16, No. 1)

9.2/10 IMDB

Viewers are provided a visit to Ken Maynard's private circus; Bette Davis poses for her portrait; Frank McHugh plays with his children; a visit to the West Side Tennis Club affords glimpses of many stars.

Starring: Bette Davis, Jimmy Durante, Pat O’Brien, Merle Oberon, David Niven, Nigel Bruce, Fred MacMurray, Marjorie Main, George Murphy, Wayne Morris ..
Directed by: Ralph Staub
Release date: 1936-09-11
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Enough to Eat?

Enough to Eat?

7.2/10 IMDB

A British documentary short about nutrition

Starring: Gowland Hopkins, Julian Huxley, Herbert Morrison, John Orr ..
Directed by: Edgar Anstey, Arthur Elton
Release date: 1936-02-23
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Breakdowns of 1936

Breakdowns of 1936

7.0/10 IMDB

Flubs and bloopers that occurred on the set of some of the major Warner Bros. pictures of 1936.

Starring: Ross Alexander, Humphrey Bogart, George Brent, Joe E. Brown, James Cagney, Ricardo Cortez, Bette Davis, Claire Dodd, Ann Dvorak, Glenda Farrell ..
Release date: 1936-12-30
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Spinning Levers

Spinning Levers

6.9/10 IMDB

An educational documentary short, commissioned by the Chevrolet Motor Company, explaining a manual car transmission works.

Release date: 1936-12-10
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : People of Britain

People of Britain

6.2/10 IMDB

Short campaigning documentary putting the case for "peace by reason" rather than through re-arming.

Directed by: Paul Rotha
Release date: 1936-08-01

St. Helena and Its 'Man of Destiny'

6.3/10 IMDB

The remote island of St. Helena, a British possession located in the south Atlantic, is perhaps best known as where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled/imprisoned for the final six years of his life and where he died in 1821. His legacy on the island remains today, despite his body being disinterred and moved back to France in 1840. His home was at Longwood, one area of the island now ceded to the French in respect of its former resident. The island was discovered and named by the Portuguese in 1502. Until the British took over, many other European countries had or wanted possession of the island because of its location along natural trade routes. Jamestown is the island's only port, named after King James. With 4,000 inhabitants, St. Helena is self supporting, growing primarily potatoes and flax. However, its primary economic generator is the sale of the rare St. Helena postage stamp.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1936-07-08

Yellowstone Park: 'Nature's Playground'

6.3/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short showcases the natural wonders in one of the USA's most famous national parks. Waterfalls, grizzly bears, and the Old Faithful geyser are featured.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Directed by: James H. Smith
Release date: 1936-10-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Can You Imagine?

Can You Imagine?

6.4/10 IMDB

This short shows various curiosities of people and nature across the United States, in the style of the "Believe It or Not" series. Among the dozen subjects are Milwaukee's Monkey Island; a boy in Salt Lake City who wrestles with his pet lion; a tree that grows out of a courthouse's stone roof; a well shaft in Pennsylvania that freezes in summer and melts in cold weather; and the town crier of Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Starring: Ray Saunders, Dickie McCollin, William Shelton, Amos Emmanuel Kubick ..
Release date: 1936-07-11

Calendar of the Year

6.2/10 IMDB

Directed by: Evelyn Cherry
Release date: 1936-01-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Let's Dance

Let's Dance

6.1/10 IMDB

Choreographer Dave Gould and his students demonstrate various tap dancing steps. Also featured are an adagio and Russian sword dancers.

Starring: Dave Gould, Pete Smith ..
Directed by: David Miller
Release date: 1936-01-04


5.7/10 IMDB

A series of scenes that comprised both new material (featuring frontal nudity), and old footage from an Italian version of Dante's Inferno (also featuring frontal nudity) and vignettes from the March of Crime series.

Directed by: Louis Sonney
Release date: 1936-01-01

Television Comes to London

6.3/10 IMDB

In this film, specially taken for the BBC, viewers are given an idea of the growth of the television installation at Alexandra Palace and an insight into production routine. There will be many shots behind the scenes. One sequence, for instance, will show Adele Dixon as she appears to viewers in the Variety at 3.30 this afternoon, and will then reveal the technical staff and equipment in the studio that made this transmission possible.

Starring: Leslie Mitchell, Adele Dixon, The BBC Television Orchestra ..
Release date: 1936-11-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : We Drivers

We Drivers

5.5/10 IMDB

Driving safety film from the 1930's showing good and bad sides of a driver's mind.

Release date: 1936-08-12
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Erbkrank


5.1/10 IMDB

This Nazi propaganda film attempts to justify and extols the "benefits" of euthanasia.

Directed by: Herbert Gerdes
Release date: 1936-01-21

The Development of English Railways

4.9/10 IMDB

We learn of the beginnings of the English railways and how they were devised in the 1800s.

Directed by: Andrew Miller Jones
Release date: 1936-08-13
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Catching Trouble

Catching Trouble

1.6/10 IMDB

This short follows a day of work for an Everglades wildlife trapper catching animals for zoos around America. In this film, his assignment is to go out into the swamp with his Indian assistant and find a bobcat, 2 black bear cubs and six rattlesnakes.

Starring: Ted Husing, Ross Allen ..
Release date: 1936-05-08
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Nursery Island

Nursery Island

0.0/10 IMDB

Mary Field's delightful documentary showcases the birdlife of Northumberland's Farne Islands: courting kittiwakes, baby oyster-catchers, guillemots and of course the puffin, described as "the ridiculous-looking bird on the left". Un-aided by modern stealthy cameras, Oliver Pike's breath-taking photography stands the test of time, while the wry commentary is refreshing and at times very funny. Nursery Island benefits from the direction of Mary Field, a former teacher who became education manager at British Instructional Films, and the photography of nature enthusiast Oliver Pike, who developed groundbreaking techniques to film animals in their natural habits (including an early camouflaged cine-camera). Field and Pike worked on the pioneering natural history series Secrets of Nature (1922-33), followed by Secrets of Life (1934-1950), effectively launching the popular genre of wildlife documentary as we know it today.

Directed by: Mary Field
Release date: 1936-01-01

Milan Fair

0.0/10 IMDB

Directed by: Elizaveta Svilova
Release date: 1936-11-11
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Venice of the North

Venice of the North

0.0/10 IMDB

Travelogue of the capital of Sweden, Stockholm.

Starring: Alois Havrilla ..
Release date: 1936-05-15
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : The Conquest of the Air

The Conquest of the Air

6.3/10 IMDB

This early docudrama uses dramatic re-enactment, working models of early flying machines, and archival footage to trace man's attempts to fly from ancient times through the 1930's.

Starring: Frederick Culley, Laurence Olivier, Franklin Dyall, Henry Victor, Hay Petrie, John Turnbull, Charles Lefeaux, Bryan Powley, Alan Wheatley, John Abbott ..
Directed by: Alexander Esway, Zoltan Korda, John Monk Saunders
Release date: 1936-12-01

Message from Genova

0.0/10 IMDB

This expository film shows the mood of European society on the eve of the Second World War while promoting the values of international cooperation. Using the Swiss office of the BBC as an example, the film describes the functioning of radio and presents the possibilities opened by mass communications. After the advent of sound film, Cavalcanti promoted experimentation with sound, and in this connection he was interested in the communicational, organizational, and social aspects of radio.

Directed by: Alberto Cavalcanti
Release date: 1936-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : The Handy Man

The Handy Man

0.0/10 IMDB

J.T. Baily will demonstrate how to repair a broken window. Broken windows are never very picturesque, and at this time of the year extra ventilation is not at all welcome. After this demonstration, however, every viewer should be able to look forward to window breakages as a fine opportunity for a show of skill.

Starring: James T. Baily ..
Release date: 1936-11-28

Satul ?an?

0.0/10 IMDB

Sociological documentary presenting various aspects of a village in Northern Romania in the 1930s.

Directed by: Henri H. Stahl
Release date: 1936-03-06
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Roentgenfilm I

Roentgenfilm I

0.0/10 IMDB

This silent b&w film has intertitles in gothic script (in German). The film features cineradiography of x-rays of eating, drinking and digestion. Solid food is consumed sideways on with a good view of the mouth, then the thorax as food and drink pass down to the stomach. Finally stools are seen forming and dropping through the intestines to the colon.

Directed by: Robert Janker
Release date: 1936-04-06
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Gardens of the Orient

Gardens of the Orient

0.0/10 IMDB

This portait of life on the tea plantations is decidedly rosy – clearly, there are no exploited workers here. However, the film provides an intriguing overview of tea production – from the planting of tea seeds to the final shipping of the precious leaves across the globe.

Release date: 1936-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Inn Signs Through the Ages

Inn Signs Through the Ages

0.0/10 IMDB

Fred Taylor displays a number of items from the Building Centre's 'Inn Sign Exhibition' held in November 1936. Some signs in the exhibition date back to the reign of Charles II, while others are more contemporary.

Starring: Fred Taylor ..
Release date: 1936-11-17
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Among the Hardwoods

Among the Hardwoods

0.0/10 IMDB

In mid-1936 a sound engineer visited the Pemberton region of south-west Western Australia to make a film that focused more on the atmosphere of the forest as it was irrevocably changed by the axe and saw of the loggers.

Directed by: Lyn Maplestone
Release date: 1936-05-29
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Berlin Reichshauptstadt 1936

Berlin Reichshauptstadt 1936

0.0/10 IMDB

Berlin in the Olympic summer 1936. A Nazi propaganda film and a portrait in colour of the early 20th century city.

Directed by: Willi Forst
Release date: 1936-01-01

Diving Part 1

0.0/10 IMDB

Official Film of the Amateur Swimming Association. An instructional documentary on diving.

Directed by: D. Carter
Release date: 1936-01-01

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

0.0/10 IMDB

Release date: 1936-01-01

The Story of Papworth, the Village of Hope

5.0/10 IMDB

A educational drama about Tuberculosis.

Starring: Madeleine Carroll, Gordon Harker, Mabel Constanduros, Owen Nares, Nicholas Hannen, C. Aubrey Smith ..
Directed by: Anthony Asquith
Release date: 1936-04-26
Best Documentary Movies of 1936 : Cats, Birds and Fishes

Cats, Birds and Fishes

0.0/10 IMDB

Some champion exhibits from the National Cat Club Show and the Combined Bird and Aquaria Show, described by W. Cox-Ife, F. Hopkins, and L.C. Mandeville.

Starring: Louis Mandeville, William Cox-Ife, Fred Hopkins ..
Release date: 1936-11-27

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