Best Documentary Movies of 1944
The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress
This WW2 documentary centers on the crew of the American B-17 Flying Fortress Memphis Belle as it prepares to execute a strategic bombing raid on Nazi submarine pens in Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
Jammin' the Blues
In this short film, prominent jazz musicians of the 1940s gather for a rare filming of a jam session. This highly stylized chronicle features tenor sax legend Lester Young.
Resisting Enemy Interrogation
A downed American bomber crew quickly falls prey to the clever interrogation techniques of the Germans in this dramatic training film.
With the Marines at Tarawa
Documentary short film depicting the harrowing battle between the U.S. Marines and the Japanese for control of the Pacific island of Tarawa.
Why We Fight: The Battle of China
The sixth film of Frank Capra's Why We Fight propaganda film series illustrates Japan's occupation of China, including Madame Chiang Kai-Shek's stirring address before congress, the rape of Nanking, the great 2,000 mile migration, and Claire Chennault's Flying Tigers.
Children of the City
Attitudes to and treatment of juvenile delinquency in Scotland.
The Fighting Lady
Oscar winner William Wyler directed this 1944 "newsdrama," narrated by Lieut. Robert Taylor, USNR (Bataan), and photographed in zones of combat by the U.S. Navy. The film follows one of the many new aircraft carriers built since Pearl Harbor, known as THE FIGHTING LADY in honor of all American carriers, as it goes into action against the Japanese in the Pacific Ocean in 1943. See the ship and its pilots undergo their baptism of fire, attacking the Japanese base on Marcus Island.
Documentary made by the U.S. Army Signal Corps after the North African campaign.
The Negro Soldier
Documentary focusing on the contributions to the American war effort of African-American soldiers.
Naples Is a Battlefield
The capture of Naples, the first great European city to be liberated, revealed the magnitude of the tasks involved in re-creating the means of livelihood and the machinery of government in a devastated, starving and disease-ridden city.
This Is Guadalcanal
This U.S. Marine Corps documentary from 1944 showcases the battle of Guadalcanal. The small island of Guadalcanal was, like many of the Pacific islands, defended with great determination by the Japanese forces. Both the landing on the beaches and the subsequent inland fighting resulted in heavy casualties for the Americans - and the Japanese fought to almost the last man and the last bullet.
You Can't Kill a City
A film which features the people of Caen in Normandy, France after the allied armies had forced out the occupying German army. The film demonstrates the courage and perseverance of the city's people as they slowly begin the long and difficult process of rebuilding a city which has been destroyed by war. Shots include machinery clearing away rubble, a flag raising ceremony and distribution of food, water and a locally produced newspaper. The people of Caen begin the process of establishing lines of communication with other regions of the liberated country, searching for spies in the community and repairing the pipes and sewers buried beneath the streets. Life is slowly returning to normal as people enjoy idle time spent fishing or enjoying a concert but they also remember the allied soldiers who have given their lives for their freedom. Included is a shot of a grave-site with a cross which reads "Bdr. Hill, E.I.; July 18, 1944".
Return to Guam
Return to Guam is a 1944 short propaganda film produced by the US Navy about the taking and recapture of the island of Guam. The film starts when a convoy of ships nearing the island sees strange lights flashing from the island in Morse code "information". After cautiously investigating the signal, they find that it was made by a white man, George Tweed, the last survivor of the original garrison at Guam. Tweed relates his harrowing story of how he survived in the bush for 31 months with the help of the natives, Chamorros.
Know Your Ally: Britain
Know Your Ally: Britain was a 45-minute propaganda film made in 1944. It was narrated by Walter Huston and produced by the United States War Department and Signal Corp to solidify Anglo-American solidarity within the ranks as well as counter Nazi propaganda aimed at weakening the Alliance.
Hymn of the Nations
Hymn of the Nations, originally titled Arturo Toscanini: Hymn of the Nations, is a 1944 film directed by Alexander Hammid, which features the "Inno delle nazioni," a patriotic work for tenor soloist, chorus, and orchestra, composed by Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi in the early 1860s. (For this musical work, Verdi utilized the national anthems of several European nations.) In December 1943, Arturo Toscanini filmed a performance of this music for inclusion in an Office of War Information documentary about the role of Italian-Americans in aiding the Allies during World War II. Toscanini added a bridge passage to include arrangements of "The Star-Spangled Banner" for the United States and "The Internationale" for the Soviet Union and the Italian partisans. Joining Toscanini in the filmed performance in NBC Studio 8-H, were tenor Jan Peerce, the Westminster Choir, and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. The film also included the overture to Verdi's opera La Forza del Destino.
The Road to Victory
Documentary short film intended to drum up support for the Fifth War Loan Campaign. It shows a happy family in the future of 1960 enjoying the prosperity and advantages made possible by the successful prosecution of the war, and how the sacrifices of 1944 have made the world a better place. Edited down from The Shining Future (1944).
The Town was a short propaganda film produced by the Office of War Information in 1945. It presents an idealized vision of American life, shown in microcosm by Madison, Indiana.
World War II propaganda film.
The Shining Future
Documentary short film intended to drum up support for the Fifth War Loan Campaign. It shows a happy family in the future of 1960 enjoying the prosperity and advantages made possible by the successful prosecution of the war, and how the sacrifices of 1944 have made the world a better place.
Land and Live in the Jungle
In this World War II military training film, a B-25 crew bails out over the jungle, and the pilot is separated from the rest of of his crew. The two groups of soldiers must survive until they can meet up and be rescued. The pilot does almost everything wrong, and the rest of his crew does almost everything right. We learn, by both bad and good example, how to survive in the jungle.
A World War II drama-documentary showing the struggles of Merchant Navy seamen folliowing an attack by a U-Boat.
Life aboard merchant ships with the Maritime Regiment of the Royal Artillery.
Some of the Best
This film features highlights of MGM's productions from 1924 through 1943, in honor of the studio's twentieth anniversary.
As the Twig Is Bent
This film, produced by the Aetna Life Insurance Co., shows parents how their children can be prevented from descending into a life of crime, immorality, drugs, perversion, licentiousness, voting Democratic and cigarette smoking by the purchase of an Aeta Life Insurance policy.
This Traveltalk series short begins in Chicago, where the narrator and his crew board a cruise ship. After a 20-hour trip up Lake Michigan, they arrive at Mackinac Island, near the southeast tip of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. On the island, we see many of the attractions for which it is famous. These include Arch Rock, Old Fort Mackinack, and a hotel owned by Chauncey Depew. No automobiles are allowed on the island. Transportation is limited to bicycles and horse-drawn carriages.
A Lady Fights Back
The saga of the Normandie is recounted from her life as a luxury liner, the horrific fire that nearly destroyed her, and her resuscitation to join in the war effort. A John Nesbitt's Passing Parade short.
This Traveltalk series short visits Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.
Visiting St. Louis
This FitzPatrick Traveltalk series short visit to St. Louis, Missouri starts with a brief history lesson. We then see several of the city's architectural landmarks and the many types of vessels that travel on the Mississippi River. Time is also spent at the zoological garden in Forest Park, where we see rhinoceros, giraffes, polar bears, giant pandas, and a group of trained elephants.
Before the Raid
A dramatised account of Norwegian fishermen outwitting occupational forces during World War II, directed by Ji?í Weiss and written by acclaimed author Laurie Lee.
Target for Today
A bombing mission over Germany by the American Eighth Air Force, from the initial planning for the mission through final completion, with all of its intricacies from beginning to end.
Wandering Here and There
This Traveltalk series short visits various places around the United States. At the first stop, we admire the natural beauty of Crater Lake in Oregon. The next stop is the open pit copper mine at Bingham Canyon, Utah, the world's largest copper mine. We then spend time in Hannibal, Missouri, the hometown of author Mark Twain. After a short visit to a log-rolling contest in Washington State, we cross the country to get a view of Washington, DC from across the Potomac River. The final stop on this tour is Arlington National Cemetery, where we see the Tomb of the Unknown, Arlington House, and the mast of the USS Maine, which was sunk in 1898 in Havana Harbor.
Two young women, frustrated by war rationing, have a dream illustrating the likely results on prices in America should the measure were prematurely lifted.
A Day in Death Valley
A tour of the arid, inhospitable region of the southern California desert known as Death Valley, originally named because of the many travelers in the 1840s who died of thirst, starvation and/or exposure trying to cross it.
It's Your War Too
Documentary short film detailing the history of the American Women's Army Corps, the WACS.
Grandpa Called It Art
This MGM Passing Parade series short takes a look at changing definitions of art in the United States.
This Traveltalk series short starts off in Denver, capital of Colorado. Known as a recreational and health center, it is noted for its beautiful parks. The Museum of Natural History has specimens of local animal life. About an hour's drive from Denver on Lookout Mountain is the grave of Col. William Cody, 'Buffalo Bill', known as a scout and a plainsman. In Colorado Springs, there is a monument to the great American humorist Will Rogers who loved the stretches of open country. Much of the mountain area of Colorado is owned by the Federal government as national forest and there are many well stocked trout streams. In Mesa Verde National Park you will find the cave dwellings once used by Native Americans.
Roaming Through Arizona
This Traveltalk series short focuses first on the architectural styles found in Arizona, then switches to the natural wonders in the state.
Along the Cactus Trail
The drive from Riverside, California to Phoenix, Arizona is affectionately known as the Cactus Trail. Starting in Riverside, sights of note include: the Mission Inn in Riverside whose unique style was the brainchild of Frank Miller; the Chapel of St. Francis in Riverside, which because of its dedication to aviation is the site of many weddings associated with aviators; the Camelback Mountain outside of Phoenix, so named for its shape.
Memo for Joe
Documentary short film extolling the virtues of the American Community Chest charity program and its value to the Allied war effort.
A look at everyday life in the crofting community of Achriesgill in Sutherland.
Out of Chaos
Examines the role of art in WWII; featuring Henry Moore's drawings of London Underground during bombing raids, Paul Nash's paintings of aircraft dumps, Stanley Spencer's shipbuilding panels, Evelyn Dunbar's land girls, alongside many amateur artists too.
The Birds and the Beasts Were There
Visits to three animal parks in Miami, Florida: the Rare Bird Farm, with it's many chickens, cranes, and other birds; the Monkey Jungle, where the visitors are caged and the simian inhabitants roam freely; and finally the Parrot Jungle.
City of Brigham Young
A tour of Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Case of the Tremendous Trifle
This documentary short film depicts the importance of tiny ball bearings in the ability of a nation to carry out warfare. As ball bearings are necessary for the operation of almost all machinery, war materiel is vitally dependent on the production of these small metallic globes. Allied military forces in World War II decide it is necessary to curtail Germany's ability to provide itself with ball bearings. Intelligence is gathered from many sources in order to plan an aerial bombing raid on Schweinfurt, home of Germany's ball bearing industry.
Screen Snapshots' 50th Anniversary of Motion Pictures
1944 short film nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Short Subject, One Reel
How to Fly the B-26 Airplane
Documentary feature film depicting the training of young Lieutenant Jim Anthony as a pilot of the B-26 Marauder bomber. Dick, the captain charged with pilot instruction, leads Jim through every aspect of preparation to fly the bomber, going through a detailed checklist of pre-flight procedures, long before he allows Jim to turn an engine over. Once preparations are completed, Dick shows Jim the process of starting the engines, followed by take-off. In the air, further instruction helps Jim understand the various limits and capabilities of the aircraft. When one engine fails, Dick must simultaneously guide the limping plane back to a safe landing and explain to Jim each step of the procedure.
The Grassy Shires
Profile of the Heart of England shires of Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland, and Warwickshire, and their important roles in feeding the nation.
Exploring the wonders in nature and culture which our young soldiers meet on their brave voyage to unknown lands.
Army Air Forces - Pacific
General Henry H. 'Hap' Arnold summarizes U.S. Army and Army Air Force activities in the Pacific Theater of World War II in this short documentary film. Air attacks on Japanese held islands, the rescue of American troops under fire by the Japanese, and successful bombing missions are depicted.
This black and white film was made by the Australian government to show Australia's contribution to the New Guinea campaign, for which they thought there had not been sufficient acknowledgement. Jungle Patrol follows the daily experiences of the soldiers, from their initial deployment in Port Moresby, then flying over the Owen Stanley Ranges on board the troop carrier 'Honeymoon Express', to their slog through jungle and steep terrain battling rain, mosquitoes and mud as they march from the Ramu 'Death' Valley up to rejoin their battalion at an outpost on Shaggy Ridge in the Finisterre Range.