Best Documentary Movies of 1945
Nazi Concentration Camps
Produced and presented as evidence at the Nuremberg war crimes trial of Hermann Göring and twenty other Nazi leaders, this film consists primarily of dead and surviving prisoners and of facilities used to kill and torture during the World War II.
This documentary movie is about the battle of San Pietro, a small village in Italy. Over 1,100 US soldiers were killed while trying to take this location, that blocked the way for the Allied forces from the Germans.
A Study in Choreography for Camera
Maya Deren’s shortest, two-minute A Study in Choreography for Camera seems like an exercise piece to capture a dancer’s movement on celluloid, which later on developed into her masterpieces such as Ritual in Transfigured Time and Meditation on Violence.
The Ship That Wouldn't Die!
This short film focuses on the USS Franklin, an aircraft carrier that in March 1945 suffered heavy bombing damages and a massive toll on servicemen before returning to the U.S.
Originally made with a German soundtrack for screening in occupied Germany and Austria, this film was the first documentary to show what the Allies found when they liberated the Nazi extermination camps: the survivors, the conditions, and the evidence of mass murder. The film includes accounts of the economic aspects of the camps' operation, the interrogation of captured camp personnel, and the enforced visits of the inhabitants of neighboring towns, who, along with the rest of their compatriots, are blamed for complicity in the Nazi crimes - one of the few such condemnations in the Allied war records.
A Diary for Timothy
This brief documentary-style film presents the status of Great Britain near the end of the Second World War by means of a visual diary for a baby boy born in September, 1944. Narration explains to "Timothy" what his family, his neighbors, and his fellow citizens are going through as the war nears its end, and what problems may remain for new Englishmen like Timothy to solve.
Why We Fight: War Comes to America
The seventh and final film of Frank Capra's Why We Fight World War II propaganda film series. This entry attempts to describe the factors leading up to America's entry into the Second World War.
Shot in Munich just a few weeks after it was taken by the American troops on April 30, 1945.
To the Shores of Iwo Jima
Documentary short film depicting the American assault on the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima and the massive battle that raged on that key island in the Allied advance on Japan. Four cameramen died bringing this footage to the public
Diary of a Sergeant
Harold Russell, an American soldier who lost his hands in a training accident, tells the story of his medical rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC, how he and his fellow amputees at the hospital at first despaired and then found new hope in the prostheses and training available to amputees through the Army's medical corps. Russell learns to wear and to operate the hooks which replace his hands and becomes competent to perform many tasks he had once thought no longer possible. Discharged from the Army, he is welcomed into Boston College by college president William J. Murphy, S.J.
The silent 16 mm footage that makes up "V-E +1" documents the burial of beaten and emaciated Holocaust victims found by Allied forces in the Nazi concentration camp at Falkenau, Czechoslovakia, as World War II ended in Europe.
Here Is Germany
A "know-your-enemy" propaganda film similar to "Know Your Enemy: Japan" and "My Japan", films about Japan with the same objective. It contains a history of the prelude to WW II, the death camps and other Nazi war crimes, and commentary on the character of the German people. Directed by Frank Capra, this film is in essentially the same format as his "Why We Fight" series. It was intended to be shown to American troops participating in the invasion and occupation of Germany. But by the time it was ready, events had overtaken it -- Germany was already well on its way to falling -- so the film was shelved. Although it is readily available for public-domain viewing on the Internet, it has never been widely distributed or shown.
The True Glory
A documentary account of the allied invasion of Europe during World War II compiled from the footage shot by nearly 1400 cameramen. It opens as the assembled allied forces plan and train for the D-Day invasion at bases in Great Britain and covers all the major events of the war in Europe from the Normandy landings to the fall of Berlin.
Modern Guatemala City
This FitzPatrick Traveltalk short visits Guatemala City, touching upon its sights, customs, and history.
People on Paper
Americans are preoccupied with the news, but need an escape from many of the events reported in the news. These escapes in the past have included dime store novels. The most accessible of these escapes is what are known as the funny papers, the set of serialized comic strips that are included within many newspapers. They appeal to all socio-economic classes, and all ages. Some of the earliest known from the late 19th century include the Yellow Kid, Little Nemo, Happy Hooligan, the Katzenjammer Kids, Mutt & Jeff, and Bringing Up Father. Many cartoonists are seen in action. Some originated their characters, while others have taken over following the passing of the originator. The joy of many comic strips are the absurd and the fantastical, which are limited only by the imagination of the cartoonist. Others are grounded in reality, which add to their poignancy within the public mindset.
Fury in the Pacific
Documentary short film depicting American Army, Navy, Marine, Air Forces, and Coast Guard joint assaults on a Japanese-held island.
The Nazi Plan
Produced and presented as evidence at the Nuremberg war crimes trial of Hermann Göring and twenty other Nazi leaders.
This documentary was secretly and 'illegally' shot inside the prison camps, established during World War II by American authorities to detain US citizens of Japanese descent who were considered a potential threat to national security.
Appointment in Tokyo
Produced by the Army Pictorial Service, Signal Corps, with the cooperation of the Army Air Forces and the United States Navy, and released by Warner Bros. for the War Activities Committee shortly after the surrender of Japan. Follow General Douglas MacArthur and his men from their exile from the Philippines in early 1942, through the signing of the instrument of surrender on the USS Missouri on September 1, 1945
Library of Congress
A 1945 Oscar nominated short documentary about the Library of Congress. It is one of 26 documentary shorts produced between 1942 and 1945 by the U.S. Overseas Film Bureau, and intended to show foreign viewers something about America and it's values, this one focuses on the important institution in Washington D.C. which preserves written and other works that have been copyrighted, as part of the country's heritage.
Two Down and One to Go
Documentary short film produced by the U.S. Army, intended to enlighten the American public on the final thrust of the Allied war effort in Europe and on the plans for the return home of American forces.
That Justice Be Done
Newsreel footage from both sides of World War II make a case for convicting Nazi war criminals.
Know Your Enemy: Japan
Frank Capra-directed propaganda film produced during World War II depicting the United States' new enemy: Japan.
Story of a Dog
Story of a Dog is a 1945 short documentary film under the supervision of Gordon Hollingshead. In the film, a dog trains for the battlefield and becomes a crucial part of the United States military. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Live Action Short, One-Reel.
The Atom Strikes!
The U.S. Army Signal Corps Pictorial Division made this short documentary shortly after the end of WWII to look at the after-effects of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is no credited crew or cast.
The Channel Islands 1940-1945
The occupation of the Channel Islands.
Health for the Americas: The Unseen Enemy
Disney animated educational film about staying safe from disease.
Your Job in Germany
Your Job In Germany is a short film made for the United States War Department in 1945 just before Victory in Europe Day (VE). It was shown to US soldiers about to go on occupation duty in Germany. The film was made by the military film unit commanded by Frank Capra and was written by Theodor Geisel, better known by his pen name Dr. Seuss.
Health for the Americas: Cleanliness Brings Health
The comparison of two rural families to demonstrate the need for proper hygiene and the consequences of its neglect.
The Fight for the Sky
Documentary detailing the activities of American fighter escort pilots during bombing raids over Germany.
This short film, produced at the end of WWII, warns that although Adolf Hitler is dead, his ideas live on.
Watchtower Over Tomorrow
Short documentary film about the Dumbarton Oaks plan and the proposed formation of the United Nations.
Color documentary film about the victory parade held on June 24, 1945, in Moscow, Red Square.
Wings for This Man
A tribute to the pioneering achievements of the Negro combat pilots trained at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
March of Progress
Tour of the modern interurban trolley system of San Francisco's East Bay and over the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Predicts the bright postwar future of streetcar transit, with visionary images of advanced-design railcars.
An introduction to the famous and historic university town, showing the colleges, as well as the place itself.
Part of the March of Time series, this episode (Volume 12, Number 2) focuses entirely on the beauty industry in the USA. With spending of over $1 billion (in 1945) on cosmetic products, it has evolved into a major commercial enterprise. Packaging has proved to be a very important factor in sales and some $50 million per year is spent on advertising. The FDA look out for harmful products and Federal Trade Commission keeps an eye out for misleading claims. Spas and country resorts, where you can rest and relax, are gaining popularity for those who can afford it as are slenderizing salons and gymnasiums. Hairstyling has become an even bigger business. It's not only women who spend money on beauty products as some $300 million per year is spent by men.
The Seesaw and the Shoes
This short shows how two objects led to important discoveries. Children playing with a seesaw inspire French physician Rene Laennec to invent the stethoscope, and a pair of shoes made of caoutchouc lead Charles Goodyear to discover the process for vulcanizing rubber.
Time to Kill
A group of sailors kid their shipmate Frank about his constant reading, when they would all rather play cards. But each of them has a dream for the future that they consider impossible. Harry wants a better world for his two kids, Shorty and Eddie want to start a trucking company, Joe wants to learn about engines, and another of the gang just wants to know how to write well. When Frank reveals that he's been studying to get his high school diploma and to have a career in the Navy, the others realize that the educational benefits offered by the Armed Forces Institute can help them achieve their dreams.
A colorful British documentary about the manufacturing of steel.
Beachhead to Berlin
From the Department of the Navy.This historical recording from the National Archives may contain variations in audio and video quality based on the limitations of the original source material.
A Better Tomorrow
A Better Tomorrow (1945) is a documentary short that focuses on New York City progressive public schools.
A documentary about how a bill for education (also known as the children's charter) passed by the British government in the 1940's will help all children get a good education.
The Fleet That Came to Stay
A propaganda short film produced by the US Navy in 1945 about the naval engagements of the invasion of Okinawa.
The Sport Parade: Snow Thrills
A silent short documentary highlighting winter sports - skating, skiing, bobsled, dogsledding, and features lots of folks falling down.
Two expert badminton players demonstrate how the best play the game, including some slick trick shots. Meanwhile, befuddled bungler Bellamy B. Birdbrain bumbles his way through building a backyard badminton court. (This film is played in its entirety in MGM's short feature "The Great Morgan")
The Story of Willow Run
This Ford Motor Company promotional film describes its huge aircraft factory at Willow Run, east of Ypsilanti, Michigan. The plant made B-24 Liberator heavy bombers during World War II. At peak capacity, one four-engine B-24 rolled out the door every 55 minutes. The plant combined parts fabrication with final assembly under one roof, and employed up to 42,000 workers. This film also provides a detailed description of each stage of construction of a B-24, including parts manufacture, assembly, and flight test.
The Fleet That Came to Stay
Well before he made the Westerns for which he would primarily be remembered, director Budd Boetticher put together this documentary of World War II's Battle of Okinawa from footage shot by Navy cameramen in the thick of the fighting.
Land and Live in the Desert
Documentary short film depicting the correct methods of surviving the crash landing of a military aircraft in the desert. Methods of conserving water, providing shelter, and signaling for help are depicted.
The Army Nurse
This short details the importance of U.S. Army Nurses and all of the hard work and compassion that they provide on a daily basis. The film also shows the many different conditions they have to deal with in and out of work during wartime.