Best Documentary Movies of 1937
People of the Cumberland
The film takes place in rural Tennessee, where communities have experienced economic and environmental devastation created by the coal mining industry. The introduction of the Highlander Folk School in 1931 by educator Myles Horton and the movement to bring labor union representation to the region are shown as means of empowering the population. Efforts are made to stop the union activities with the murder of a local organizer, but eventually the union movement is able to take root with the local workforce.
Hindenburg Disaster Newsreel Footage
The airship Hindenburg, arriving from Europe, was being led to its mooring at Lakehurst, New Jersey when suddenly disaster struck. The hydrogen-filled zeppelin ignited, and was almost instantly transformed into an enormous fireball. In less than a minute, the entire ship had been consumed by flames. The Hindenburg explosion marked the end of the budding airship travel industry.
Tsar to Lenin
A documentary film account of the Russian Revolution, based on archival footage.
One of the last voyages of a commercial sailing ship on a trip from Cornwall.
Around the Corner
Short film detailing the workings of the rear-axle differential and how this new system makes driving smoother and more comfortable.
Decathlon Champion: The Story of Glenn Morris
This Pete Smith Specialty tells how Glenn Morris trained for and won the 1936 Olympic decathlon event.
Heart of Spain
The first production from Frontier Films, the film production collective that was the successor to NYKino and the Workers Film and Photo League, Heart of Spain focuses on the Spanish Civil War, a conflict that became a touchstone of its era and was the most forceful opposition to the rising threat of fascism in Europe. Heart of Spain was begun by Geza Karpathi and Herbert Kline, who ultimately turned their footage over to Paul Strand, Leo Hurwitz, and Ben Maddow to make the film. It is compelling both for its shrewd formal aesthetics and as a sympathetic human document of the war.
Hong Kong: 'The Hub of the Orient'
This Traveltalk series short takes a look at Hong Kong.
Romance of Radium
This short film tells the story of the discovery of radium and how it is used in medicine.
We Work Again
The role of African Americans in the recovery years of the Great Depression is the subject of this informational short, which offers an idealized depiction of life in a segregated society. The highlight, by far, is rare footage of Orson Welles’s “Voodoo Macbeth,” produced in 1935 for the New York Negro Unit of the WPA’s Federal Theatre Project.