Best Documentary Movies of 1941


The Reluctant Dragon

6.8/10 IMDB

Humorist Robert Benchley attempts to find Walt Disney to ask him to adapt a short story about a gentle dragon who would rather recite poetry than be ferocious. Along the way, he is given a tour of Walt Disney Studios, and learns about the animation process.

Starring: Robert Benchley, Frances Gifford, Buddy Pepper, Nana Bryant, Claud Allister, Barnett Parker, Billy Lee, Florence Gill, Clarence Nash, Ward Kimball ..
Directed by: Hamilton Luske, Alfred L. Werker
Release date: 1941-06-19
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Kukan: The Battle Cry of China

Kukan: The Battle Cry of China

7.9/10 IMDB

Rey Scott received an Honorary Academy Award for this documentary "For his extraordinary achievement in producing Kukan, the film record of China's struggle, including its photography with a 16mm camera under the most difficult and dangerous conditions."

Starring: Niles Welch ..
Directed by: Rey Scott
Release date: 1941-06-23

Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler In Action

7.0/10 IMDB

Chronicles combat action of Hitler's elite bodyguard regiment from 1940 to 1941. From Rotterdam to Greece, German frontline cameramen captured footage of early victorious campaigns. Scenes of camp life and ceremonies convey an impression of the comradeship, pride, and elan of this mighty military formation.

Starring: Harry Geise, Adolf Hitler, Erwin Rommel, Sepp Dietrich ..
Release date: 1941-10-31
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Breakdowns of 1941

Breakdowns of 1941

7.3/10 IMDB

This was one of the annual "blooper" reels screened by the Warners Club, an organization of Warners actors, crew and executives. It was meant to poke fun at the flubs and bloopers that occurred on the set of some of the major Warner Bros. pictures of 1941.

Starring: Eddie Albert, Mary Astor, Willie Best, Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, James Cagney, Jack Carson, Gary Cooper, Gino Corrado, Bette Davis ..
Release date: 1941-11-14
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : When the Pie Was Opened

When the Pie Was Opened

6.2/10 IMDB

Surrealism, avant-garde sound montage, and irreverent wit might be the last thing you'd expect from a government-sponsored film about wartime cookery. But director, artist, animator and all-round firework of a man Len Lye specialised in the unexpected. A simple tale of a mother cheering up her daughter with a pie from her rationing-stricken pantry (interestingly the war is never directly referred to) is skilfully crafted into a work of real artistic depth, while retaining an unpretentious charm.

Starring: Valerie Forrest, Hilda Masters ..
Directed by: Len Lye
Release date: 1941-01-01

Scenic Grandeur

6.9/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short spotlights the natural beauty of the Northwestern United States. Our first stop is Mount Saint Helen's and Spirit Lake in the state of Washington. As we admire the majesty of the scene, visitors are picnicking on the shore and canoeing on the lake. These scenes were filmed many years before the volcanic mountain erupted in 1980. We then take a boat trip on the southern shore of Alaska to see the Columbia Glacier.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1941-12-14
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Christmas Under Fire

Christmas Under Fire

6.8/10 IMDB

How Britain coped with a Christmas during the war.

Starring: Quentin Reynolds ..
Directed by: Charles Hasse, Harry Watt
Release date: 1941-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : The Heart of Britain

The Heart of Britain

6.6/10 IMDB

Documentary by Humphrey Jennings

Directed by: Humphrey Jennings
Release date: 1941-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : This Is England

This Is England

7.3/10 IMDB

Edward R. Murrow narrates Humphrey Jennings' short documentary about life in England during wartime.

Starring: Edward R. Murrow ..
Directed by: Humphrey Jennings
Release date: 1941-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : A Child Went Forth

A Child Went Forth

5.4/10 IMDB

A line from Whitman, "There was a child went forth every day," starts this film: a visit to a farm that's a summer camp and progressive school for exploration and discovery. The children, as young as two or three, have room and time to question, wonder, and learn. We build a wading pool, use tools, climb and swing, bath a dog - and learn to live together. There are spats, and little adult interference. A tree house sparks children's imagination. They visit a neighboring farm, play with the animals and ride on a tractor that's plowing. They eat and nap. There's story time, easels for art, and a lollipop. It's the perfect place for city children to be safe from bombardment, says the narrator.

Starring: Lloyd Gough ..
Directed by: Joseph Losey
Release date: 1941-11-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Target for Tonight

Target for Tonight

6.3/10 IMDB

Footage of the actual planning and execution of a bombing raid on Germany.

Starring: Percy Charles Pickard ..
Directed by: Harry Watt
Release date: 1941-10-13
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Introspection


6.2/10 IMDB

The film is set to the music of Franz Schubert and is very strange. Much of it consists of disembodies arms and legs all moving about to the music. There are also folks in body suits moving rhythmically to the tune. Occasionally, there are shots of a guy in full color with multiple exposures.

Starring: Bill Martin, James Mitchell, Joe Riccard ..
Directed by: Sara Kathryn Arledge
Release date: 1941-11-01

This Is the Bowery

6.5/10 IMDB

In this somewhat whitewashed documentary on Manhattan's Bowery a newcomer to the area takes his first step toward redemption after a meal, bed, and inspiring talk.

Starring: John Nesbitt ..
Directed by: Gunther von Fritsch
Release date: 1941-05-31
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Main Street on the March!

Main Street on the March!

6.5/10 IMDB

This Best Short Subject Academy Award winning film begins in the spring of 1940, just before the Nazi occupation of the Benelux countries, and ends immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It chronicles how the people of "Main Street America", the country's military forces, and its industrial base were completely transformed when the decision was made to gear up for war. Original footage is interspersed with contemporary newsreels and stock footage.

Starring: John Nesbitt, Barbara Bedford, Margaret Bert, Robert Blake, Naomi Childers, Mark Daniels, Robert Homans, Milton Kibbee, May McAvoy ..
Directed by: Edward L. Cahn
Release date: 1941-12-09

Mediterranean Ports of Call

6.3/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk short visits the ports of Algiers and Monaco in the Mediterranean.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Directed by: James A. FitzPatrick
Release date: 1941-01-04

The Forgotten Village

6.8/10 IMDB

Documentary examining the conflicts between the coming of modernization and the traditional culture of a small Mexican village.

Directed by: Alexander Hammid, Herbert Kline
Release date: 1941-02-07
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Yellow Caesar

Yellow Caesar

6.2/10 IMDB

Using edited archive footage, mockery is made of Italy's dictator Benito Mussolini.

Starring: Michael Frank, Douglas Byng, Marcel King, Sam Lee, Lito Masconas, Max Spiro, Feliks Topolski, Jack Warrock ..
Directed by: Alberto Cavalcanti
Release date: 1941-05-24
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Army Champions

Army Champions

6.0/10 IMDB

This Pete Smith Specialty short focuses on the young men who have signed up for the U.S. Army. The film uses the analogy of the speed, accuracy, and teamwork of sports and how these qualities are translated into the weapons training of American soldiers. We watch target practice by Army personnel with shoulder weapons, mortars, and various artillery pieces.

Starring: Pete Smith ..
Directed by: Paul Vogel
Release date: 1941-10-11

The Inside Passage

6.3/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short looks at what was then the Alaska Territory, which according to the film, was being looked at as a potential home to millions of refugees from World War II.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Directed by: James A. FitzPatrick
Release date: 1941-10-04
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Churchill's Island

Churchill's Island

6.3/10 IMDB

The people of Britain resist the German air force and navy with help from North America.

Starring: Lorne Greene, Gérard Arthur ..
Directed by: Stuart Legg
Release date: 1941-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : A Place to Live

A Place to Live

5.3/10 IMDB

Inner city squalor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is the subject of this documentary, which focuses on a child returning from school to his home, a cramped and squalid apartment in a rat-infested slum neighborhood.

Directed by: Irving Lerner
Release date: 1941-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Safeguarding Military Information

Safeguarding Military Information

6.0/10 IMDB

World War II propaganda short which focuses on the dangers of inadvertent dispersal of military information.

Starring: Eddie Bracken, Walter Huston, Ginger Rogers ..
Directed by: Preston Sturges
Release date: 1941-01-16
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Women in Defense

Women in Defense

6.2/10 IMDB

Short documentary extolling the virtues and necessity for women to participate in America's preparation for war, showing women working in scientific, industrial, and voluntary-services activities.

Starring: Katharine Hepburn ..
Directed by: John Ford
Release date: 1941-12-24

Glimpses of Florida

6.1/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series entry takes the viewer to a number of locations throughout the state of Florida.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Directed by: James A. FitzPatrick
Release date: 1941-09-06

You Can't Fool a Camera

5.9/10 IMDB

This short starts out as a documentary. In a dramatization, Eadward Muybridge's photographic experiments prove that when a horse gallops, there are times when all four of the animal's feet are off the ground. We are then brought to the present, where MGM directors and their cinematographers are shown working on current productions. The film closes with closeups of the studio's major stars and a tribute to the studio's actors who have joined the armed forces.

Starring: Frank Whitbeck ..
Release date: 1941-05-23

Warclouds in the Pacific

5.6/10 IMDB

This short film examines the Japan that emerged at the beginning of the 1900s and was firmly established as an industrialized nation by the outbreak of World War II. Facing the greatest threat in their history, the democracies of the Pacific took careful stock of this new Japan and its strength, and erected a vast system of defence across the world's greatest ocean.

Starring: Lorne Greene, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Aisin-Gioro Puyi ..
Directed by: Stuart Legg
Release date: 1941-12-24
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : More About Nostradamus

More About Nostradamus

5.4/10 IMDB

This short film portrays Nostradamus as having predicted the horrors of WWI and Hitler's rise to power, as well as the eventual triumph of "the daughter of the English Isles" against these forces. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Subject, One-Reel.

Starring: Carey Wilson, John Burton, Hans Conried, James Dime, John George ..
Directed by: David Miller
Release date: 1941-01-18
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Bomber: A Defense Report on Film

Bomber: A Defense Report on Film

5.0/10 IMDB

Documentary short demonstrating the process of building a medium bomber for the United States Army Air Corps.

Directed by: Carl Sandburg
Release date: 1941-10-03
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Fancy Answers

Fancy Answers

6.1/10 IMDB

In this Pete Smith Speciality, the audience is asked a series of multiple-choice questions on various subjects.

Starring: Pete Smith, Byron Foulger, Ava Gardner, George Magrill ..
Directed by: Basil Wrangell
Release date: 1941-11-01

Polo with the Stars

5.1/10 IMDB

A short in the WB Hollywood Novelty series (production number 7301) about the training of polo ponies. Buddy Rogers buys one of the ponies in training, and later uses him in a match where Jack Holt and Joe E. Brown are among the players. Edward G. Robinson and Jack Oakie are among the spectators who see Joe. E. Brown knock in the winning score.

Starring: Joe E. Brown, Charles Rogers, Jack Oakie, Edward G. Robinson, Knox Manning, Jack Holt, Tom Moore, Rex 'Snowy' Baker, Joe Blackwell ..
Directed by: Paul R. Thoma
Release date: 1941-09-20
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Forty Boys and a Song

Forty Boys and a Song

5.3/10 IMDB

Forty Boys and a Song is a 1941 short documentary film directed by Irving Allen. The film is about the Robert Mitchell Boy Choir, consisting entirely of boys aged 8 to 14. The choir, run by organist Robert Mitchell, appeared in Hollywood productions for over thirty years. Accordingly, the boys were recruited to go to a special school where they would go through regular classroom instruction until 1 PM, after which they'd do choir practice. The kids are also shown performing in a church on Sunday as well as camping, as they are all part of the same Boy Scouts troop. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Subject, One-Reel.

Directed by: Irving Allen
Release date: 1941-12-06
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Kings of the Turf

Kings of the Turf

5.3/10 IMDB

Kings of the Turf is a 1941 American short documentary film about horse racing, directed by Del Frazier. This entry in The Sports Parade series shows us how Mortimer, a Standardbred horse, is trained for harness racing. It was nominated for an Academy Award at the 14th Academy Awards for Best Short Subject.

Starring: Knox Manning ..
Directed by: Del Frazier
Release date: 1941-09-27

Steel Goes to Sea

7.2/10 IMDB

A British documentary depicting the manufacture of a ship, demonstrating the moulding and the hammering of the steel and the gradual creation of the vessel.

Directed by: John E. Lewis
Release date: 1941-01-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Ordinary People

Ordinary People

7.2/10 IMDB

Documentary about an average day during the Blitz.

Directed by: J.B. Holmes, Jack Lee
Release date: 1941-07-01

Meet the Stars #8: Stars Past and Present

7.1/10 IMDB

Stars past and present gather to take part in the ceremonies at the dedication of Republic's new sound stage to the memory of Mabel Normand.

Directed by: Harriet Parsons
Release date: 1941-07-24
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Letter from Home

Letter from Home

6.8/10 IMDB

Two evacuee children living in the United States receive a letter from their mother, Mrs Taylor, telling them of her life in Blitz-era London. Glimpses of the events of Mrs Taylor's typical day, including ration shopping and fire warden training, belie the letter's innocuous statements.

Starring: Celia Johnson, Kathleen Harrison, Joyce Grenfell, Edie Martin, Athene Seyler ..
Directed by: Carol Reed
Release date: 1941-12-01

Yosemite the Magnificent

6.6/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short celebrates the beauty of Yosemite National Park. Besides the majestic mountains, we see Bridal Veil Falls and a giant sequoia with a road cut through its trunk. Tourist activities, including horseback riding and fishing, are also highlighted.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick, James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1941-05-10

Jungle Cavalcade

6.7/10 IMDB

Compilation of footage from three Frank Buck films about his adventures capturing animals for the world's zoos: "Bring 'Em Back Alive" (1933); "Wild Cargo" (1934); and "Fang And Claw" (1935).

Starring: Frank Buck ..
Directed by: Armand Denis, Clyde E. Elliott
Release date: 1941-07-03
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Canadian Landscape

Canadian Landscape

6.5/10 IMDB

This documentary follows painter A.Y. Jackson on his canoe trips and on foot to the northern wilderness of Canada in autumn. This leading member of the Group of Seven discusses his approach to his subject matter and shows some of his paintings.

Directed by: Radford Crawley
Release date: 1941-01-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Tins for India

Tins for India

6.6/10 IMDB

The manufacture of kerosene tins in an Indian factory.

Directed by: Bimal Roy
Release date: 1941-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : More Dangerous Than Dynamite

More Dangerous Than Dynamite

4.3/10 IMDB

A short film warning the unaware housewife of the dangers of “dry cleaning” with gasoline at home.

Release date: 1941-11-07
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Five and Under

Five and Under

6.3/10 IMDB

Childcare for working women during the Second World War.

Starring: Beatrix Lehmann ..
Directed by: Donald Alexander
Release date: 1941-01-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : The March of Time: G-Men Combat Saboteurs

The March of Time: G-Men Combat Saboteurs

6.4/10 IMDB

Communicating simultaneously to all 53 of the FBI’s field offices from his headquarters in the Department of Justice, this issue puts J. Edgar Hoover right at the heart of America’s fight against internal espionage during the war. Featuring footage from the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, the film follows the progress of a new officer, dramatically depicting the investigation of a murder case involving the theft of top secret materials from a gas mask factory.

Release date: 1941-04-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Willie and the Mouse

Willie and the Mouse

6.3/10 IMDB

John Nesbitt's "Passing Parade" purports to show how the behavior of mice can be studied in relation to the interaction of school children.

Starring: John Nesbitt ..
Directed by: George Sidney
Release date: 1941-05-17

Alluring Alaska

6.1/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short introduces the viewer to Alaska.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1941-02-24

Historic Maryland

6.0/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short highlights such Maryland destinations as Baltimore, Johns Hopkins, Annapolis, and Fort McHenry.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1941-12-27

Lions on the Loose

5.9/10 IMDB

In this Pete Smith Specialty short, two lion cubs escape from the zoo and go on an adventure.

Starring: Pete Smith, Marjorie Freeman ..
Directed by: Marjorie Freeman
Release date: 1941-05-24
Best Documentary Movies of 1941 : Glimpses of Kentucky

Glimpses of Kentucky

6.0/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short visit to Kentucky starts with a view of the Cumberland River, which flows for about 700 miles through the state. The first stop is Old Fort Harrod State Park, which has a replica of the original fort, the first permanent white settlement in the state. We then visit the grave sites of two of Kentucky's favorite sons, Henry Clay in Lexington and Daniel Boone in Frankfort. At My Old Kentucky Home State Park, we see the mansion and grounds that inspired composer Stephen Foster to write the song most associated with the state. We then visit three horse farms in the area of Lexington, the state's horse racing capital: Spindletop Farm; Faraway Farm, where we are introduced to Man o' War, the greatest racehorse of the 20th century; and Elmendorf Farm, where Man o' War's sire and dam, Fair Play and Mahuba, are buried.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1941-04-12

George Town: 'Pride of Penang'

6.1/10 IMDB

Also known as Prince of Wales Island, Penang is a British colony located off the west coast of the Malay peninsula. As it is an island, many residents make their livelihood off the water, such as in fishing or port activities as it serves as both a vital link in the chain of British colonies and one of the major ports of entry into the Malay. Penang's major city and capital is George Town, with approximately 160,000 inhabitants, primarily Chinese, Malay or South Asian. The Chinese dominate life on the island, economically, culturally, and in sheer numbers. Because of the diverse racial mix, there are also an associated number of different religions, one which specifically worships the snake, the nocturnal and poisonous adder roaming freely through its temple at night. Also because of the diverse racial mix, there is also often a blending of cultures, such as in the cuisine of the island.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Directed by: James A. FitzPatrick
Release date: 1941-11-15

Haiti: 'Land of Dark Majesty'

5.7/10 IMDB

In this FitzPatrick's Traveltalk short, a trip to Haiti serves as a portal into its history, mainly under 19th century ruler Henri Christophe.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1941-07-05

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