Best Documentary Movies of 1942


Saludos Amigos

6.1/10 IMDB

Live-action segments show members of the Disney staff touring South America and recording their impressions in sketches. These segue into four animated sections: "Lake Titicaca" depicts tourist Donald Duck's troubles with a stubborn llama; "Pedro" tells of a little mail plane's adventures flying over the treacherous Andes; "El Gaucho Goofy" transplants an American cowboy into the Argentine pampas; and in "Aquarela do Brasil," Jose Carioca shows Donald the sights and sounds of Rio de Janiero.

Starring: José Oliveira, Fred Shields, Pinto Colvig, Walt Disney, Clarence Nash, Lee Blair ..
Directed by: Wilfred Jackson, William Roberts, Hamilton Luske, Jack Kinney, Norman Ferguson
Release date: 1942-08-24
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Why We Fight: Prelude to War

Why We Fight: Prelude to War

7.0/10 IMDB

Prelude to War was the first film of Frank Capra's Why We Fight propaganda film series, commissioned by the Pentagon and George C. Marshall. It was made to convince American troops of the necessity of combating the Axis Powers during World War II. This film examines the differences between democratic and fascist states.

Starring: Walter Huston, Max Schmeling ..
Directed by: Frank Capra, Anatole Litvak
Release date: 1942-05-27
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Listen to Britain

Listen to Britain

6.6/10 IMDB

A depiction of life in wartime England during the Second World War. Director Humphrey Jennings visits many aspects of civilian life and of the turmoil and privation caused by the war, all without narration.

Starring: Chesney Allen, Leonard Brockington, Bud Flanagan, Myra Hess, Joseph Macleod, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother ..
Directed by: Humphrey Jennings, Stewart McAllister
Release date: 1942-04-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : The Film That Was Lost

The Film That Was Lost

7.7/10 IMDB

In this John Nesbitt's Passing Parade short, a look is taken at the problems of film preservation efforts in the 1930s and early 1940s.

Starring: John Nesbitt ..
Directed by: Sammy Lee
Release date: 1942-10-31
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : The Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway

6.1/10 IMDB

The Japanese attack on Midway in June 1942, filmed as it happened.

Starring: Donald Crisp, Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, Irving Pichel ..
Directed by: John Ford
Release date: 1942-09-14
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : South of the Border with Disney

South of the Border with Disney

5.8/10 IMDB

Disney short.

Starring: Walt Disney, Heitor Villa-Lobos ..
Directed by: Jack Cutting, Norman Ferguson
Release date: 1942-11-23
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : The World at War

The World at War

6.8/10 IMDB

Documentary examining the events which led up to the Second World War.

Starring: Paul Stewart, Francisco Franco, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Franklin D. Roosevelt ..
Directed by: Lowell Mellett
Release date: 1942-09-18

The Land

7.5/10 IMDB

Documentary showing the poor state that American agriculture had fallen into during the Great Depression.

Starring: Robert J. Flaherty ..
Directed by: Robert J. Flaherty
Release date: 1942-04-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Winning Your Wings

Winning Your Wings

6.2/10 IMDB

Winning Your Wings is a 1942 short American World War II recruitment film produced by Warner Bros. Studios for the US Army Air Forces, starring Jimmy Stewart. It was aimed at young men who were thinking about joining the Air Force.

Starring: James Stewart, Jean Ames, Leah Baird, Don DeFore, Charles Drake, Bill Edwards, Inez Gay, Creighton Hale, Adolf Hitler ..
Directed by: John Huston, Owen Crump
Release date: 1942-05-28
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Victory Quiz

Victory Quiz

6.0/10 IMDB

A short film where viewers are given 10 or 15 seconds to answer questions about the United States and its involvement in World War II.

Starring: Pete Smith, Alan Hale Jr., Dave O'Brien ..
Directed by: Will Jason
Release date: 1942-05-09
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : The Woman in the House

The Woman in the House

5.8/10 IMDB

This short looks at the illness anthropophobia, the fear of people. In 1901, young Catherine Starr, who lives in a small English coastal town, has an argument with her fiancé. He leaves her house, goes off to serve in the Boer War, and dies of malaria. Catherine blames herself for his death and fears others will also blame her. She does not leave her house for forty years. Groceries are delivered to the house, but no one sees who retrieves them. When the Nazis bomb her house in September 1941, she is forced to cope with the outside world.

Starring: John Nesbitt, Ann Richards, Peter Cushing, Mark Daniels ..
Directed by: Sammy Lee
Release date: 1942-05-09
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Out of the Frying Pan Into the Firing Line

Out of the Frying Pan Into the Firing Line

6.1/10 IMDB

Documentary short film demonstrating the process by which waste fats from the kitchens of American homes can be transformed into the raw materials for explosives for the war effort.

Starring: Thelma Boardman ..
Directed by: Ben Sharpsteen
Release date: 1942-07-29
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Torpedo Squadron

Torpedo Squadron

6.1/10 IMDB

John Ford splices together footage of Torpedo Squadron 8, all but one of whom were later shot down and killed in the Battle of Midway.

Directed by: John Ford
Release date: 1942-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Famous Boners

Famous Boners

6.3/10 IMDB

This Passing Parade series entry looks at three instances of people who either caused or were the victims of errors.

Starring: John Nesbitt, Ian Wolfe, Joe Yule, Edward McWade, Margaret Bert ..
Directed by: Douglas Foster
Release date: 1942-10-24
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : The New Spirit

The New Spirit

5.7/10 IMDB

Animated documentary promoting timely filing and payment of Federal income taxes, demonstrated by Donald Duck's difficulties with his tax return.

Starring: Cliff Edwards, Clarence Nash, Fred Shields, The Sportsmen Quartet ..
Directed by: Wilfred Jackson, Ben Sharpsteen
Release date: 1942-01-22
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Soldiers in White

Soldiers in White

5.2/10 IMDB

A young intern is drafted and placed in the Army Medical Corps as a buck private and is none too happy about it. Injured, he is placed in the hospital where a Major comes by and explains how army doctors make important advances in medical science. The private is inspired and promises to make a good soldier. He is even more inspired when a nurse becomes his superior officer.

Starring: William T. Orr, John Litel, Eleanor Parker, Ray Montgomery, Tod Andrews, Knox Manning, Jack Mower ..
Directed by: B. Reeves Eason
Release date: 1942-02-07
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Marines in the Making

Marines in the Making

5.7/10 IMDB

This short film shows U.S. Marines in training at a number of unidentified bases, with a focus on hand-to-hand combat.

Starring: Pete Smith, Charles Horvath ..
Directed by: Herbert Polesie
Release date: 1942-12-26
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Little Belgium

Little Belgium

5.3/10 IMDB

A profile of the more than 2,000 Belgian refugees in the fishing port of Brixham.

Directed by: Louis-Raoul Boogaerts
Release date: 1942-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Warsaw Ghetto

Warsaw Ghetto

5.6/10 IMDB

No information available regarding the film's director. Just under 10 minutes of over an hour's footage survive.

Directed by: Adam Czerniaków
Release date: 1942-12-31
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : The White Eagle

The White Eagle

5.0/10 IMDB

An Oscar-nominated British documentary about the Polish people who escaped Poland and were living in England during World War II, both civilians and soldiers.

Starring: Eugeniusz Cekalski, Zbigniew Grabowski, Leslie Howard, Alvar Liddell, Karol Modzelewski ..
Directed by: Eugeniusz Cekalski
Release date: 1942-01-03
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Conquer by the Clock

Conquer by the Clock

5.3/10 IMDB

Conquer by the Clock was a short dramatic propaganda film produced by the RKO Pathé in 1942 to encourage wartime industrial production. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1943.

Directed by: Frederic Ullman Jr., Slavko Vorkapich
Release date: 1942-10-27

Musical Poster #1

6.2/10 IMDB

A British WWII propaganda short warning citizens that Nazi sympathizers could be listening to their everyday conversations to discover important information about the war effort.

Directed by: Len Lye
Release date: 1942-10-05

Picturesque Patzcuaro

5.8/10 IMDB

Lake Patzcuaro, located 230 miles west of Mexico City, is one of the highest and most picturesque bodies of water in Mexico. The heritage of the indigenous peoples of the area, the Tarascans, still prevails, such as the production of lacquer-ware handicrafts, and the means of hunting and fishing, the latter which uses nets shaped like large butterfly wings. Although most current day Tarascans are Roman Catholic, they have not totally abandoned their indigenous pagan gods. On Janitzio, one of the many islands in the lake, stands a large statue commemorating José María Morelos, a prominent figure in Mexican liberation and a great benefactor to the Tarascans. Janitzio is also the inspiration for many famous paintings. The town of Tzintzuntzan just inland from the lake's shore acts as the regional center for the market and for festivals.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Directed by: James A. FitzPatrick
Release date: 1942-05-23
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Henry Browne, Farmer

Henry Browne, Farmer

4.8/10 IMDB

Documentary short film dramatizing the efforts of a black farmer and his family to help the American war effort by increasing production.

Starring: Canada Lee ..
Directed by: Roger Barlow
Release date: 1942-11-15
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : We Must Have Music

We Must Have Music

5.9/10 IMDB

A short history of movie music is presented, from silent films accompanied by a single piano, to the elaborate song scores for musicals (with scenes from MGM's musicals) and background music for dramas. Conductor/composer

Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Whitbeck, Busby Berkeley, Risë Stevens, Herbert Stothart, Bronislau Kaper ..
Directed by: Busby Berkeley
Release date: 1942-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : A Ship Is Born

A Ship Is Born

5.2/10 IMDB

This Vitaphone 'Technicolor Special' (production number 8001) portrays the behind-the-scenes story of the building and manning, during World War Two, of the USA supply line to Victory against the Axis powers, the United States Merchant Marine service.

Directed by: Jean Negulesco
Release date: 1942-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Japanese Relocation

Japanese Relocation

4.5/10 IMDB

Documentary short demonstrating American reasons for interning Americans of Japanese ancestry following the outbreak of war between the U.S. and Japan.

Starring: Milton S. Eisenhower ..
Release date: 1942-11-12
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : The Tree in a Test Tube

The Tree in a Test Tube

4.6/10 IMDB

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are stopped by narrator Pete Smith for the purpose of showing the audience how much wood and wood by-products the average person carries.

Starring: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Lee Vickers, Pete Smith ..
Directed by: Charles McDonald
Release date: 1942-11-19
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Mister Gardenia Jones

Mister Gardenia Jones

4.6/10 IMDB

Documentary short film depicting the work of the United Service Organizations (USO) in providing recreational and morale-boosting services for American troops.

Starring: Charles Winninger, Fay Bainter, Laraine Day, Ronald Reagan, Chill Wills, Carey Wilson ..
Directed by: George B. Seitz
Release date: 1942-05-29
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Malta G.C.

Malta G.C.

7.2/10 IMDB

Short WW II documentary

Starring: Laurence Olivier ..
Directed by: Derrick De Marney, Eugeniusz Cekalski
Release date: 1942-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Builders


6.3/10 IMDB

A short film about how builders help contribute to the war effort.

Starring: John Hilton ..
Directed by: Pat Jackson
Release date: 1942-10-05

Minnesota: 'Land of Plenty'

6.7/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short visits some of the important cities and sites of Minnesota.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick, Harold E. Stassen ..
Directed by: James A. FitzPatrick
Release date: 1942-01-31

West Point on the Hudson

6.8/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short visits the United States Military Academy at West Point just before America's entry into World War II. It starts with a short history lesson on the area's strategic importance in the Revolutionary War. We then get a look at some of the historic buildings on the campus. New soon-to-be-cadet arrive by train on their first day. After a look at the troops in some of the training areas on the post, the film ends with cadet marching on the parade ground.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Directed by: James A. FitzPatrick
Release date: 1942-01-10

Coastal Command

6.8/10 IMDB

Documentary style presentation of the work of RAF Coastal Command. Shows their work in protecting convoys and attacking enemy aircraft, ships and U-boats, all done by the actual men & women of the RAF.

Starring: Roger Hunter, Charles Norman Lewis, Ralph Reader ..
Directed by: J.B. Holmes
Release date: 1942-10-07

Glimpses of Ontario

6.7/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short visits Ontario, the second largest province of Canada. Toronto is the province's largest city, sitting on the shores of Lake Ontario. After the War of 1812, the Rideau Canal was built connecting the Ottawa River to Lake Ontario. The canal figures prominently in the geography and history of the City of Ottawa, the capital of Canada.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1942-12-05

Hedda Hopper's Hollywood No. 4

6.8/10 IMDB

Fourth film in the Hedda Hopper series.

Starring: Hedda Hopper, Freddie Bartholomew, Leo Carrillo, Joan Carroll, Cora Sue Collins, Edith Fellows, Elsie Janis, Bob Hope, Bobby Jordan, Frances Langford ..
Directed by: Herbert Moulton
Release date: 1942-01-01

Glacier Park and Waterton Lakes

6.5/10 IMDB

We begin at the train station near Montana's Glacier National Park, where Blackfeet Indians meet the arriving tourists. Glacier Park, an off-screen narrator tells us, has the remnants of 60 glaciers, from three ice ages. We visit the lodge, built in Swiss style, where college students dressed in Swiss garb do the serving at the restaurant. We watch Indian dancing and a ceremony. After views of lakes, mountains, and trails in the park, it's north to Canada's Waterton Lakes, a vacation spot for Canadian and U.S. families.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1942-04-24

Modern Mexico City

6.5/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short brings us to the capital of Mexico, where we learn a little about the three million people living there. Their living quarters are viewed, as are various monuments found throughout the city, including a monument to George Washington. We also see the Museum of Fine Arts and the Washington Apartments. From here, we visit the bullfights.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1942-11-07


6.3/10 IMDB

A humorous look at various circus and other acrobatic feats. One of the "Pete Smith Specialties" produced and narrated by "A Smith named Pete."

Starring: Pete Smith ..
Directed by: Louis Lewyn
Release date: 1942-03-28
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : 100,000,000 Women

100,000,000 Women

6.0/10 IMDB

A documentary edited by Ji?í Weiss on the role of Soviet women in the Second World War

Starring: Claudia Nikolayeva, Viktor Talalikhin ..
Directed by: Ji?í Weiss
Release date: 1942-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : The Countrywomen

The Countrywomen

6.2/10 IMDB

World War II propaganda film that shows the war-time agricultural work of women from the Women's Institute.

Directed by: John Page
Release date: 1942-01-02

Hedda Hopper's Hollywood No. 3

6.4/10 IMDB

Hedda reports on a dog training school and a Hemingway hunting trip.

Starring: Hedda Hopper, Gary Cooper, Ernest Hemingway, Howard Hawks, Sandra Shaw, Anna Boettiger, Puck the dog, Christopher LaFarge, Carl Spitz ..
Directed by: Herbert Moulton
Release date: 1942-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Aqua Antics

Aqua Antics

6.3/10 IMDB

In this short, members of the California Water Bugs club demonstrate new ways to get thrills when water skiing.

Starring: Pete Smith, Pete Peterson, Carey Loftin ..
Directed by: Louis Lewyn
Release date: 1942-01-24

Picturesque Massachusetts

6.0/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short takes the viewer to sites in Massachusetts. Places visited include Plymouth Rock and harbor; John and Priscilla Alden's 300 year-old house; and the birthplace of Clara Barton, founder of the U.S. Red Cross. We also see Cape Cod windmills and pay a visit to Provincetown, including its picturesque harbor and its artist community.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1942-10-03
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : The March of Time: G-Men at War

The March of Time: G-Men at War

6.2/10 IMDB

The centrepiece of this March of Time film is the dramatised sequence showing the FBI infiltration of a group of American Nazis, whose espionage and sabotage operations are run from the backroom of a local restaurant. The film’s message - that the FBI is more than a match for German spies - is reinforced by the focus on new techniques such as covert filming and forensic evidence analysis, helped by an army of administrative staff working alongside the Bureau’s 4,500 special agents.

Release date: 1942-09-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : The Scorched Earth

The Scorched Earth

6.1/10 IMDB

Once upon a time, the nation of Japan was not home to the peace-loving Japanese people that live there today but, rather, soulless sadistic devils called The Japs. Among The Japs’ many anti-social activities was not only the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but the full-scale invasion of China, the latter of which is chronicled in The Scorched Earth through remarkable – and probably quite rare – documentary footage which must’ve made audiences gasp in the pre-CNN days when one’s only glimpse of worldwide events came from the black & white newsreels at the local Bijou.

Starring: Cliff Howell ..
Directed by: Ben Mindenburg
Release date: 1942-01-01

Exotic Mexico

6.1/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk short visits southern Mexico.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick, Diego Rivera ..
Directed by: James A. FitzPatrick
Release date: 1942-06-13
Best Documentary Movies of 1942 : Personalities


6.0/10 IMDB

In this "Romance of Celluloid", MGM showcases performers whose careers are just starting. Excerpts from their recently released films are included. The narrator says that moviegoers will have to decide whether these fledgling actors and actresses have that certain quality that made superstars out of MGM players Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and Lana Turner.

Starring: Patricia Dane, Carole Gallagher, Van Johnson, Richard Ney, Lucille Norman, Susan Peters, Frances Rafferty, Donna Reed, Jean Rogers, Mickey Rooney ..
Release date: 1942-01-01

Balloon Site 568

5.2/10 IMDB

Women from a variety of professions sign up to join a volunteer group looking after barrage balloons. Working through all weathers and all hours, after an eleven-week initial training period, they are committed to their work as well as their leisure-time activities.

Directed by: Ivan Moffat
Release date: 1942-04-02


5.5/10 IMDB

Made by the Realist Film Unit for the Ministry of Agriculture, the film details how to make sturdy, long-lasting hedges.

Starring: Roy Hay ..
Directed by: Margaret Thomson
Release date: 1942-01-01

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