Best Documentary Movies of 1949
Let's Go to the Movies
What goes in to the phrase, "Let's go to the movies"? An off-screen narrator takes us back to the earliest days of film: clips remind us of early stars and blockbusters. He explains how sound came to motion pictures: we see Jolson singing "Mammy" and John Barrymore playing Richard III. Next is a salute to the 30,000 people working in Hollywood at 272 different crafts. A montage shows us some of those jobs. It ends with a look at the physical production of celluloid (cotton and silver) and the many aspects of movie making. The narrator promises more short films about each step in production.
The film tells of the Armand Denis/Lewis Cotlow expedition that had the two men cover 22,000 miles through Tanganyika, Belgian Congo, and British East Africa. The high points of their ten-month trip are an impressive elephant hunt by the Pygmies of Belgian Congo, the crowning of King Mbofe Mabiashe and the capture of a rhino.
Meditation on Violence
Chao-Li Chi shadow boxes indoors and practices with a sword outdoors. Theoretically, the film describes in a single continuous movement three degrees of traditional Chinese boxing, Wu-tang, Shao-lin, and Shao-lin with a sword. A long sequence of the ballet-like, sinuous Wu-tang becomes the more erratic Shao-lin; in the middle, there is an abrupt change to leaping sword movements, in the center of which, at the apogee of the leap, there is a long held freeze-frame.
The Dim Little Island
Osbert Lancaster, James Fisher, John Ormston and Ralph Vaughn Williams meditate on the history and culture of England.
This short film purports to be a documentary (a semi-documentary?) featuring Shaw Desmond, founder of the International Institute for Psychical Research. Desmond relates several famous British hauntings.
So Much for So Little
Little Johnny Jones, to be born in the next year, is shown growing to a ripe, healthy old age, thanks to the efforts of his local public health officers. But without them, he might be one of the 5% or so that dies in the first year. The price for the public health service: about 3 cents a week.
Buck Hurst, conjurer and illusionist, entertains at a children's party.
Roaming Through Northern Ireland
A look primarily at the beauty of the countryside and seacoast, starting at Carrick-a-Rede Island then on to Enniskillen, the cathedral at Downpatrick, an appreciation of Medieval Irish craft and architecture, visits to a peat farm and the ruins of Castle Dunluce, and the pastoral beauty of County Down. There we visit the resort seacoast town of Bangor. It's on to Cushendun in County Antrim and finishing at the Giant's Causeway as we examine fascinating rock formations and the mysteries of creation.
Mining Review 2nd Year No 11
Part of BFI collection "Land of Promise".