Best Documentary Movies of 1939


How Walt Disney Cartoons Are Made

7.0/10 IMDB

Behind the scenes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, as well as a general look at the different departments involved in making a cartoon.

Starring: Samuel Armstrong, Frank Churchill, Les Clark, Walt Disney, David Hand, Hamilton Luske, James MacDonald, Oliver Wallace, Norman Ferguson ..
Release date: 1939-01-19
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : The 400 Million

The 400 Million

6.7/10 IMDB

The 400 million people of China are heirs to a great civilization, as their pagodas and stone lions can attest. But they are under attack from the Japanese. Civilian refugees walk, stumble, crawl to escape the destruction of their cities... While in the China of tradition, water buffalo still work the paddies and camels cross the desert, modern China is now a republic founded by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, with modern schools, heavy industry, large engineering projects... The government of Chiang Kai-shek resists the Japanese invasion from the coast. Madame Chiang receives a cheque from the U.S.A. for war relief. War production continues in distant villages safe from the grasp of the Japanese. With modern weapons the Chinese are pursuing their struggle behind enemy lines. And still their opponent persists in his reprisal bombings of civilian targets. "Will these people win?"

Starring: Fredric March, Morris Carnovsky, Sidney Lumet, Robert Q. Lewis, Alfred Ryder, Adelaide Bean, Lai Sek, Madame Chiang ..
Directed by: Joris Ivens
Release date: 1939-03-07
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : The Lion Has Wings

The Lion Has Wings

5.7/10 IMDB

This early, influential propaganda film blends documentary and studio footage to show the valiant efforts of the Royal Air Force to defend the British people against the Nazis.

Starring: Merle Oberon, Ralph Richardson, June Duprez, Flora Robson, Robert Douglas, Anthony Bushell, Brian Worth, Austin Trevor, Ivan Brandt, G.H. Mulcaster ..
Directed by: Adrian Brunel, Brian Desmond Hurst, Michael Powell, Alexander Korda
Release date: 1939-11-03

Let's Talk Turkey

6.0/10 IMDB

It's Thanksgiving. Newlywed husband Abner Poodlebean faces the turkey his wife has prepared: she wants him to carve it at the table in front of her scowling family, and Abner has no idea how to proceed. The film's narrator has us cut away to the kitchen of chef M.O. Cullen who demonstrates the proper way to carve the bird, spoon out the stuffing, and lay out the platter. Back to Abner, who's missed Cullen's lesson, so he makes a fine mess. Can this marriage survive?

Starring: Pete Smith, Max O. Cullen, William Newell, Sally Payne, Tommy Bond, George Guhl ..
Directed by: Felix E. Feist
Release date: 1939-10-28
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : The City

The City

5.9/10 IMDB

Polemic documentary extolling the virtues of suburban life and leaving cities as a place of industry.

Starring: Morris Carnovsky ..
Directed by: Ralph Steiner, Willard Van Dyke
Release date: 1939-01-01

Jazz Hot

6.3/10 IMDB

JAZZ HOT is a major discovery, a unique sync sound film recorded of Django Reinhardt, greatest of jazz guitarists, here with violinist Stephane Grappelli and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France.

Starring: Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli ..
Release date: 1939-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : Hollywood Hobbies

Hollywood Hobbies

5.7/10 IMDB

In this short film, two starstruck movie fans hire a tour guide and see a plethora of Hollywood stars.

Starring: Joyce Compton, Sally Payne, William Benedict, Milton Berle, Joe E. Brown, Virginia Bruce, James Cagney, Joan Davis, Reginald Denny, Buddy Ebsen ..
Directed by: George Sidney
Release date: 1939-05-03

In Tune with Tomorrow

7.5/10 IMDB

Through stop motion, a car is built piece-by-piece in 3-D with the added enhancement of music and sound effects. Each part becomes "alive" and has its own distinct characteristics. Originally made for the 1939 World's Fair.

Directed by: John Norling
Release date: 1939-04-30

Fighting Soldiers

7.2/10 IMDB

In the middle of 1938, Kamei Fumio and his film crew got themselves attached to an infantry regiment which they followed around through China for about four months, filming their marching and their fighting and their waiting and their dying - in short, their suffering, and not theirs alone, but also that of the people around them, their designated enemies.

Directed by: Fumio Kamei
Release date: 1939-01-01

Java Journey

6.8/10 IMDB

This Technicolor portrait of Jakarta was filmed when it was called Batavia and formed part of the Dutch East Indies colonial empire. The film portrays the daily life of citizens and the relaxed atmosphere that prevailed at the time. We see Batavia's Amsterdam Gate, built by the Dutch around 1664, along with the strong influence of Dutch architecture upon other buildings, streets and waterways.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1939-03-18
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : Artie Shaw's Class in Swing

Artie Shaw's Class in Swing

6.4/10 IMDB

This film is less a typical musical short and more like an educational film. It consists of a narrator describing the music, composition and style of a big band.

Starring: Artie Shaw, Helen Forrest, Buddy Rich ..
Directed by: Leslie M. Roush
Release date: 1939-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : Colorful Curacao

Colorful Curacao

6.7/10 IMDB

This short film focuses on the sights and sounds of the island of Curacao

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1939-05-27

Ancient Egypt

6.5/10 IMDB

This entry in the TravelTalks series visits the ancient Egypt. starting Valley of the Kings in a remote and desolate part of Egypt, the entrance to tomb of King Tut is shown, though the ts priceless treasure is now in the Cairo museum. A visit to Luxor and the ancient city of Thebes, which date to 1500 BC, follow with subsequent visits to Karnak. The film closes by noting that past and present are in harmony with the water wheel and village well still in wide use in the modern age.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1939-01-21
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : Rural Hungary

Rural Hungary

6.4/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short visits the rural agricultural areas of Hungary.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Directed by: James A. FitzPatrick
Release date: 1939-04-29
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : A Day at Denham

A Day at Denham

6.2/10 IMDB

A look at London Film Productions' studios at Denham.

Release date: 1939-05-03

Heroes at Leisure

6.3/10 IMDB

This short film focuses on a group of lifeguards from a Southern California beach during the off season.

Starring: Pete Smith ..
Directed by: Charles T. Trego
Release date: 1939-02-02

Land of Alaska Nellie

6.1/10 IMDB

In this Traveltalk series short, we view the Inside Passage to Alaska, the longest protected waterway in the world. Traveling north, we enter the small town of Seward, gateway to the interior. One of the burgeoning industries is the raising of silver fox and mink. There are many road houses scattered throughout Alaska, but one of the most famous is twenty-three miles outside of Seward on Lake Kenai belonging to Nellie Lawing, better known as Alaska Nellie, who has a long and storied history in Alaska.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick, Nellie Lawing ..
Release date: 1939-12-23

The Rape of Czechoslovakia

6.5/10 IMDB

A documentary by Jirí Weiss

Directed by: Ji?í Weiss
Release date: 1939-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : Busy Little Bears

Busy Little Bears

6.5/10 IMDB

Busy Little Bears is a 1939 American short family film directed by John A. Haeseler. The film follows three bear cubs are observed exploring the forests of the Sierra Nevadas, encountering other wildlife, and invading the kitchen of a local ranch house. It won an Oscar at the 12th Academy Awards in 1940 for Best Short Subject (One-Reel).

Starring: Frank Crumit ..
Directed by: John A. Haeseler
Release date: 1939-04-20
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : If War Should Come

If War Should Come

6.3/10 IMDB

Produced shortly before the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, If War Should Come was one of the last films to be produced by the GPO Film Unit before it was re-named the Crown Film Unit and incorporated into the Films Division of the Ministry of Information.

Starring: Jack Livesey ..
Release date: 1939-09-17

Marine Circus

6.1/10 IMDB

This Pete Smith Specialty offers a look at Marineland of Florida, featuring the various marine life on display there.

Starring: Pete Smith ..
Directed by: James A. FitzPatrick
Release date: 1939-03-11

From the Ends of the Earth

4.7/10 IMDB

An MGM short showing how materials are shipped by boat 'From the Ends of the Earth' to Hollywood. Featuring footage from the MGM films being made at the time. Such as The Women, Thunder Afloat, Siren of the Tropics, Ninotchka, Northwest Passage, and At the Circus.

Starring: Joan Crawford, Groucho Marx, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, Myrna Loy, Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore, Lew Ayres, Ina Claire, Melvyn Douglas ..
Release date: 1939-05-28

The Movies March On

5.9/10 IMDB

A "March of Time" presentation of the evolution of movies compiled primarily from film clips of silent movies through the early sound pictures to the present (1939) date. Industry executives such as Jack and Harry Warner, Walt Disney, Cecil B. DeMille, et al are seen taking bows in the live (non-archive) footage.

Starring: Renée Adorée, Gilbert M. Anderson, Theda Bara, Jackson Beck, Lionel Barrymore, Cecil B. DeMille, George Schaefer ..
Directed by: Alan Brown
Release date: 1939-07-03

For Your Convenience

5.7/10 IMDB

In this short film's four segments, "Bowery Beautician", "Chutes", "Home Brew", and "Girth Control", the viewer is shown how certain conveniences and inventions aid the user.

Starring: Dwight Weist, Dorothy Patrick ..
Directed by: Ira Genet
Release date: 1939-05-20

Poetry of Nature

5.4/10 IMDB

Pete Smith takes a humorous look at the wildlife that lives among the California redwoods.

Starring: Pete Smith ..
Directed by: Mervyn Freeman
Release date: 1939-06-17

Let My People Live

5.0/10 IMDB

Aimed at African Americans and shot at Tuskegee University, this film instructs viewers in the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis by focusing on a pair of sympathetic siblings, George and Mary, whose lives are altered by the disease. Starring Rex Ingram as Dr. Gordon, the film suggests that organized religion is an important defensive location in this particular community, and warns of the dangers of the previous generation’s superstitions and its fear of medicine. The Health Department prominently featured the film at the 1939 World’s Fair. Directed by Edgar Ulmer.

Starring: Peggy Howard, Rex Ingram, Ethel Waters, Merritt Smith, Erostine Coles ..
Directed by: Edgar G. Ulmer
Release date: 1939-03-10

Royal Banners Over Ottawa

4.5/10 IMDB

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Mother) in the royal carriage.

Directed by: Gordon Sparling
Release date: 1939-11-25

Indian Durbar

5.1/10 IMDB

Technicolor scenes from an Indian Durbar, held for the Maharaja of Alwar in Rajasthan.

Directed by: John Hanau
Release date: 1939-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : Screen Snapshots Series 18, No. 8

Screen Snapshots Series 18, No. 8

1.6/10 IMDB

Ice skating is the theme; at the Tropical Ice Garden, in Westwood Hills, are seen a flock of skating stars including Irene Dare and Phyllis Ann Thomoson, as well as Hollywood luminaries such as Franklyn Pangborn, Norma Shearer, Rita Hayworth, Mickey Rooney, Dick Purcell and Ann Sheridan.

Starring: Don Ameche, Joan Crawford, Irene Dare, Melvyn Douglas, Rita Hayworth, Sonja Henie, Al Jolson, Franklin Pangborn, Eleanor Powell, Tyrone Power ..
Directed by: Ralph Staub
Release date: 1939-04-08

Marian Anderson: The Lincoln Memorial Concert

6.1/10 IMDB

Short film which documents Marian Anderson's singing performance at the Lincoln Memorial.

Starring: Marian Anderson, Harold L. Ickes, Kosti Vehanen ..
Directed by: Marian Anderson
Release date: 1939-12-31

First Principles of the Compression Ignition Engine

0.0/10 IMDB

An exposition, by means of diagrams and models, of the working principles of the compression ignition or oil engine.

Directed by: J. A. D. Cartwright
Release date: 1939-01-01

First Principles of Lubrication

0.0/10 IMDB

A documentary demonstrating the evolution of lubrication since Egyptian times and how modern machines have advanced.

Directed by: Grahame Tharp
Release date: 1939-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : A Nation-Wide System of Parks

A Nation-Wide System of Parks

0.0/10 IMDB

This Department of Interior film examines the origins of the Civilian Conservation Corps and profiles various accomplishments of the group in helping to build our nation's parks.

Release date: 1939-01-01

First Principles of the Petrol Engine

0.0/10 IMDB

A documentary looking at the elementary principles, illustrated by means of diagrams and models, of an internal combustion engine.

Directed by: J. A. D. Cartwright
Release date: 1939-01-01

Transfer of Power

0.0/10 IMDB

The Shell Film Unit's free-enterprise history of technology.

Directed by: Geoffrey Bell
Release date: 1939-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : Underground Farmers

Underground Farmers

0.0/10 IMDB

Ages before men proclaimed himself a superioir being,the tiny ant had developed the art of agriculture — a practice which was later to be the backbone of human society

Release date: 1939-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : Lagoa Santa

Lagoa Santa

0.0/10 IMDB

The findings of Danish paleontologist Peter Lund. The landscape of the region of Lagoa Santa, the men, the houses and the animals. Some of the caves from where Lund collected the remains of prehistoric animals and humans. Some fossils from the caves of the Lagoa Santa region. The fossils of the Lund room in the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro.

Directed by: Humberto Mauro
Release date: 1939-11-29
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : Five Times Five

Five Times Five

7.7/10 IMDB

Cécile, Annette, Yvonne, Émilie and Marie, the Dionne Quintuplets, turn five years old and have a private birthday party in their garden. Other than the five little French-Canadian princesses-of-the-world, the attendees at the party for the sheltered sisters are their doctor-and-mentor Roy Dafoe; a priest and two nurses; radio's "Town Crier" Alexander Woollcott; and RKO-Newsreel cameraman Harry Smith.

Starring: Alexander Woollcott, Yvonne Dionne, Annette Dionne, Cécile Dionne, Émilie Dionne, Marie Dionne, Allan Roy Dafoe ..
Directed by: Frank P. Donovan
Release date: 1939-07-19

We're in the Movies, Now!

0.0/10 IMDB

Promotion reel/souvenir of a 1939-40 meeting of the Paramount Studios sales people.

Starring: Lynne Overman, Louise Campbell, Olympe Bradna, Lloyd Nolan, J. Carrol Naish, Patricia Morison ..
Directed by: Joe Lefert
Release date: 1939-03-18
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : Eugen Weidmann Execution Film

Eugen Weidmann Execution Film

0.0/10 IMDB

Eugen Weidmann was a German criminal and serial murderer who was executed by guillotine in France in June 1939, the last public execution in that country. Unknown to authorities, film of the execution was shot from a private apartment adjacent to the prison. British actor Christopher Lee – who was 17 at the time – witnessed the event.

Starring: Eugen Weidmann ..
Release date: 1939-06-17
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : Spare Time

Spare Time

6.3/10 IMDB

Documentary short by Humphrey Jennings

Directed by: Humphrey Jennings
Release date: 1939-01-01

Made in the USA

0.0/10 IMDB

Commissioned by The Committee On International Economic Policy and The Carnegie Endowment For International Peace to help stem the isolationist tide washing across America at the dawn of World War II, to prepare the citizenry for the eventual process of international economic reconstruction.

Directed by: Frank P. Donovan
Release date: 1939-02-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1939 : Seabiscuit


0.0/10 IMDB

About famous racehorse Seabiscuit

Release date: 1939-01-01

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