Best Documentary Movies of 1940


Cavalcade of the Academy Awards

8.7/10 IMDB

This 1940 presentation features highlights of earlier (1928 onward) Oscar ceremonies including Shirley Temple and Walt Disney, plus acceptance speeches for films released in 1939 with recipients and presenters including Vivien Leigh, Judy Garland, Hattie McDaniel, Fay Bainter, Mickey Rooney, Thomas Mitchell, Sinclair Lewis, and more, with host Bob Hope.

Starring: Carey Wilson, Janet Gaynor, Emil Jannings, Mary Pickford, Warner Baxter, Norma Shearer, George Arliss, Marie Dressler, Lionel Barrymore, Helen Hayes ..
Release date: 1940-07-31

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms

6.9/10 IMDB

This film shows experiments performed by Soviet scientists reviving the lungs, heart, and even the head of a dead dog.

Starring: J.B.S. Haldane ..
Directed by: D.I. Yashin
Release date: 1940-05-29

The Capital City: Washington, D.C.

6.4/10 IMDB

A Traveltalk look at the exteriors of Washington, D.C.'s famous buildings and monuments.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Directed by: James A. FitzPatrick
Release date: 1940-09-07
Best Documentary Movies of 1940 : Quicker'n a Wink

Quicker'n a Wink

7.1/10 IMDB

In this Pete Smith Specialty short, Dr. Harold E. Edgerton demonstrates stroboscopic photography, which he helped develop. This process allows us to see in slow motion what happens during events that occur too fast to be seen by the naked eye. Examples shown here include a bullet in flight as it shatters a light bulb, the moment of impact when a kicker kicks a football, and the motion of a hummingbird's wings as it hovers.

Starring: Pete Smith, Harold E. Edgerton ..
Directed by: George Sidney
Release date: 1940-10-12
Best Documentary Movies of 1940 : Spring Offensive

Spring Offensive

6.4/10 IMDB

Documentary short by Humphrey Jennings. The GPO Film Unit was a subdivision of the UK General Post Office. The unit was established in 1933, taking on responsibilities of the Empire Marketing Board Film Unit. Headed by John Grierson, it was set up to produce sponsored documentary films mainly related to the activities of the GPO.

Directed by: Humphrey Jennings
Release date: 1940-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1940 : Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort South Carolina, May 1940

Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort South Carolina, May 1940

6.0/10 IMDB

Field recordings of religious services in a South Carolina Gullah community. Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort South Carolina, May 1940 is a 1940 short documentary film which shows religious services taking place in a South Carolina Gullah community. In 2005, Commandment Keeper Church was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Directed by: Zora Neale Hurston
Release date: 1940-03-24

The Miracle of Sound

4.9/10 IMDB

A New Romance of Celluloid: The Miracle of Sound is a 1940 short documentary film, presented and directed by MGM sound engineer Douglas Shearer and narrated by Frank Whitbeck, which goes behind the scenes to look at how the sound portion of a talking picture is created. The film, which was produced as part of the studio's Romance of Celluloid series, is available as a bonus on the Warner DVD of The Shop Around the Corner. (from:

Starring: Douglas Shearer, Greer Garson, Clark Gable, Hedy Lamarr, Spencer Tracy, Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, Conrad Veidt, Alla Nazimova, Ann Sothern ..
Directed by: Douglas Shearer
Release date: 1940-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1940 : Cavalcade of San Francisco

Cavalcade of San Francisco

5.7/10 IMDB

A Technicolor travelogue celebrating San Francisco - past and present.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1940-09-27
Best Documentary Movies of 1940 : Hollywood: Style Center of the World

Hollywood: Style Center of the World

4.2/10 IMDB

This short promotes the premise that movies often create a demand for the fashions seen in them. It starts with a vignette in rural America. A mother and daughter go to town to buy a new dress. In the dress shop window is a designer dress worn by Joan Crawford in a recent movie. We then go to Hollywood and visit Adrian, MGM's chief of costume design, and see how multiple copies of a single clothing pattern are produced. The film ends with short segments of several MGM features.

Starring: Ann Morriss, Naomi Childers, George Lessey, May McAvoy, Adrian, Lew Ayres, Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Bruce Cabot, Claudette Colbert ..
Directed by: Oliver Garver
Release date: 1940-05-29

Fashion Horizons

4.1/10 IMDB

Combines airplane trips and fashion. Heavy on the fashion.

Starring: Wendell Niles, Dee Lowrance, Mary Martin, Margaret Hayes, Virginia Dale, Martha O'Driscoll, Esther Fernández, June Malm, Don King, Dorice Miller ..
Directed by: Harry D. Donahue
Release date: 1940-08-03

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