Best Documentary Movies of 1946
Let There Be Light
The final entry in a trilogy of films produced for the U.S. government by John Huston. Some returning combat veterans suffer scars that are more psychological than physical. This film follows patients and staff during their treatment. It deals with what would now be called PTSD, but at the time was categorised as psychoneurosis or shell-shock. Government officials deemed this 1946 film counterproductive to postwar efforts; it was not shown publicly until 1981.
Britain Can Make It, No. 1
A look at how science is keeping British industry as high-tech and innovative as anywhere else in the world.
Seeds of Destiny
Oscar winning postwar propaganda film in support of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Strident but poignant, focusing on children. The film surveys the Nazi/Japanese atrocities, post-war devastation and the early relief efforts. This film was responsible for raising over $200,000,000, making it a top moneymaking film.
The Private Life of a Cat
An intimate study of the life of a domestic cat, taking place over a period of months as she gives birth to a litter of kittens and cares for them as they grow.
Live footage from concentration camps after the liberation, and the complex transport and lodging of masses of prisoners of war and other deported people back to their home countries, at the end of World War II.
Traffic with the Devil
This "Theater of Life" series short looks at traffic problems in Los Angeles, California, as described and experienced by Sgt. Charles Reineke, a traffic enforcement officer with the Los Angeles Police Department.
Theirs Is the Glory
Re-enactment of World War 2 Battle of Arnhem using the survivors from the battle.
The Way We Live
Drama and documentary are combined in this stylish and ambitious film, in which 3000 local people took part. The film delves into the complexities of rebuilding a city, showing frustrations along the way as well as vivid scenes of family life in trying circumstances.
Looking at London
A colorful travelogue of London's most historic buildings and the residual damage still left from WWII.
Visiting Vera Cruz
This Traveltalk series short looks at the people, customs, and landmarks in Vera Cruz, the main port city of Mexico.
Glimpses of California
This Traveltalk series short looks at California, beginning with the diverse types of flowers found in the state. After a look at some popular Hollywood landmarks, we visit Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park, a famous cemetery.
A Defeated People
A Defeated People is a 1946 British documentary short film made by the Crown Film Unit, directed by Humphrey Jennings and narrated by William Hartnell. The film depicts the shattered state of Germany, both physically and as a society, in the immediate aftermath of World War II. The narration explains what is being done – and what needs to be done – both by the occupying Allied forces and the German people themselves to build a better Germany from the ruins.
Facing Your Danger
This Warner Bros. The Sports Parade series short chronicles the attempt by a group of men to navigate the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon to Lake Mead. Led by Norman D. Nevills, nine men undertake a nineteen days trip in three specially built rowboats through the more than 200 rapids, some which run at 30 mph. Along the way, they see the remnants of previous expeditions. They also visit abandoned Pueblo Indian cave dwellings.
This Is China
A fascinating compilation of scenes showing diversity and disparity in 1940s China. The ancient Forbidden City and Great Wall are followed by Shanghai’s metropolitan skyline; primitive farming methods are juxtaposed with mechanised factories; children in rags are contrasted with models wearing the latest fashions; Nationalist commanders and Communist leaders vie for support.
Smart as a Fox
Smart as a Fox is a 1946 short documentary film supervised by Gordon Hollingshead. In this short film, a fox cub experiences life in the forest. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Live Action Short, One-Reel.
Deadline for Action
How left-wing labor unions engaged in political activism to combat corporate influence on the U.S. Congress in the years following World War II.
Health for the Americas: Planning for Good Eating
An educational short from Disney on the importance of good nutrition.
Land of Promise
Described as a 'film argument' about homes and houses, this film is in three parts showing houses as they were, houses as they are and houses as they might be.
Cyprus Is an Island
A short history of the island is followed by views of the countryside and people in town and village.
A look at life in the Fenlands (a coastal, marshy plain in eastern England) in 1940's.
This short documentary from the Canadian Artists series presents the art of Emily Carr, the Canadian painter who found exciting subject matter on British Columbia's Pacific Coast, with its giant trees and its Indigenous villages, totems and carvings. When Carr visited the Ucluelet Indian Reserve on Vancouver Island in 1898, the Nuu-chah-nulth people gave her the name Klee Wyck, meaning “Laughing One.” Her canvases are shown here amidst the landscapes and places where they were painted.
Along the Rainbow Trail
This 1946 entry in the "Movietone Adventures" series of shorts was in Technicolor when originally released. Narrated by Lowell Thomas, it is a trip from Medicine Hat in southern Utah down the rapids of the San Juan River ending with a view of the Rainbow Bridge, hence the title and the use of Tehnicolor. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Subject, One-Reel.
Footage of the Able Day and Baker Day nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in 1946, accompanied by a narrator who explains the purpose and benefits of the testing.
Glimpses of Guatemala
We begin this short visit to Guatemala at the port town of Livingstone, then journey up the Rio Dulce. We stop to watch men tap the trees, harvest the sap, and load the product onto small planes. At a local market, we see indigenous life much as it's been for hundreds of years. Then it's back to the coast, to the prosperous Isla de Flores, a trading island.
The Horse with the Human Mind
This short film focuses on Bess, considered to be the smartest horse in the movies, as she works with her trainer.
The Forest Commandos
This short film focuses on Ontario's fire rangers, who keep watch over Canada's forests.
Battle for Survival
This is a two-reel short appealing for financial support from Americans to assist in the feeding and resettlement in Palestine of 1.5 million European Jews who in 1946 were "incredibly, alive." Orson Welles' magnificent narration stirs one's soul.
We of the West Riding
Exploring the daily life of a large family in Yorkshire, at work in the textile mills and at play.
It Might Be You
A doctor talks about the number of injuries and deaths resulting from automobile accidents.
The Mission Trail
This Traveltalk series short follows the route laid out by the famous chain of 21 Spanish missions, begun in 1769 and extending northward for over 500 miles, from San Diego to Sonoma, California. We stop briefly at San Luis Rey and San Juan Capistrano (to watch the swallows) as well as San Juan Bautista and other missions.
Cotton Come Back
A short film trying to stop people in the North of England from worrying about losing their cotton industry jobs.
Okay for Sound
This short was released in connection with the 20th anniversary of Warner Brothers' first exhibition of the Vitaphone sound-on-film process on 6 August 1926. The film highlights Thomas A. Edison and Alexander Graham Bell's efforts that contributed to sound movies and acknowledges the work of Lee De Forest. Brief excerpts from the August 1926 exhibition follow. Clips are then shown from a number of Warner Brothers features, four from the 1920s, the remainder from 1946/47.
Over the Seas to Belfast
This Traveltalk series short begins aboard the RMS Scythia as it exits Halifax Harbor. The Scythia is a cruise ship that was converted to a troop transport during World War II; in 1940 it carried children from Liverpool to New York as part of an evacuation program set up by the Children's Overseas Reception Board. The present voyage is among the first to carry civilian passengers from North America to the British Isles following the end of the war. Among the passengers are 150 child evacuees, who have spent several years growing up in Canada or the USA.
Treasures from Trash
This short film presents an unusual Beverly Hills store called the Patio Shop, where trash is turned into art.
This edition of the March of Time series (Volume 12, Number 11) deals with the growing problem of alcoholism ins the USA. It emphasizes that alcoholics are not bad people but have an addiction which is beyond their control. It shows the work going on at Yale University on alcoholism and addiction and tries to dispel many of the myths that surround the subject. It then turn to a relatively new organization that seems to be having great success in helping alcoholics beat their habit: Alcoholics Anonymous. Using their 12-step programs and having reformed alcoholics act as counselors for those in need of help has worked well.
This Is My Railroad
A film about the Southern Pacific Railroad and the men and women who keep the trains running.
Bikini, the Atom Island
This shows the natives of Bikini Island as they were being evacuated and relocated (o.k., dispossessed) from their island prior to the atom bomb tests.
It's Your America
This short--long rumored to have been directed by John Ford--was produced by the US government specifically for veterans returning home from World War II, showing them what their responsibilities as citizens were now that they were returning to civilian life.
Land of the Mayas
This Traveltalk series short visits the village of Chichicastenango, Guatemala and emphasizes the influence of the Mayan culture on its people. It shows how the residents intermingle ancient religious practices with Catholic teachings. Narrator James FitzPatrick introduces, and greets on camera, Father Ildefonso Rossbach, a Catholic priest who ministers to the local population in the village and outlying areas.
The Last Parteitag in Nuremberg
Report from the trial of Nazi criminals before the international tribunal in Nuremberg.
Dive-Hi Champs is a 1946 short documentary film, a Grantland Rice Sportlight segment from Paramount Studios and Jack Eaton featuring a cavalcade of diving highlights, from youngsters at the local swimming hole to athletes jumping from giant earth-moving equipment in the Panama Canal. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film, One-Reel.
Routine Job: A Story of Scotland Yard
Methods used by Scotland Yard in tracking down and arresting car thieves.
Atomic Power! is an American short documentary film produced by The March of Time and released to theaters August 9, 1946, one year after the end of World War II. It is a recreation of the making of the atomic bomb leading up to the Trinity test. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Here Comes the Circus
Watch and enjoy the large variety of acts in an old-fashioned circus! The film was made available in sound and silent versions.
Arranging the Tea Table
Arranging the Tea Table
You and Your Friends
Teenagers are urged to use common sense in choosing the types of friends they have in this classroom training film. It shows the behavior of various teenagers at a party, and viewers are asked to choose which of the teens they think would make a good friend and which ones wouldn't.
Personality Meet: Enid Blyton
A brief feature on author Enid Blyton at home.
Let's Give a Tea
Etiquette guidance, here, displaying how to throw a tea party.
Two nuclear tests, Able and Baker, were the first tests conducted at the Pacific Proving Ground, near the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. This test series was called Project Crossroads. In the history, these were the fourth and fifth nuclear detonations, following the Trinity test in July 1945, and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended the World War II.
Trouble in Toytown
Some puppets demonstrate road safety to school children. (A public information film)