Best Documentary Movies of 1950


Land of Tradition

6.1/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short visits an array of locations associated with England's heritage. Included are Runnymede, Windsor, Ascot, Lincoln, Wells, Salisbury, Glastonbury, and the ancient Stonehenge site.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1950-01-20
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Berth 24

Berth 24

6.9/10 IMDB

Part of BFI collection "Tales From the Shipyard".

Starring: William Devlin, Richard Huson ..
Directed by: J.B. Holmes
Release date: 1950-01-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : The Hollywood Ten

The Hollywood Ten

7.3/10 IMDB

A brief look at The Hollywood Ten, a group of screenwriters and directors charged with contempt of court after challenging the House Un-American Activities Committee and their controversial and self-incriminatory questions during the red scare. With that act of defiance, they were sentenced to one year in prison simply for speaking their minds and exercising their constitutional rights as concerned citizens. This is their story, their version of the facts, and their opinions.

Starring: Alvah Bessie, Herbert J. Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, J. Parnell Thomas, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, Ring Lardner, Jr., John Howard Lawson ..
Directed by: John Berry
Release date: 1950-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Beaver Valley

Beaver Valley

7.0/10 IMDB

Produced by Walt Disney as part of the "True-Life Adventures" series of nature documentaries (1948–60). The film depicts a young male beaver who must defend his new family against hungry predators, mischievous river otters, and the ever-impending threat of winter.

Starring: Winston Hibler ..
Directed by: James Algar
Release date: 1950-07-19
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : The Titan: Story of Michelangelo

The Titan: Story of Michelangelo

6.7/10 IMDB

The life and works of the great artist Michelangelo Buonarroti are shown against the historical background of his time. It begins with his earliest artworks, and follows his life and career as he achieves lasting fame. The documentary includes detailed looks at some of the artist's most renowned creations.

Starring: Fredric March ..
Directed by: Robert J. Flaherty, Richard Lyford, Curt Oertel, Robert Flaherty
Release date: 1950-01-22
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Grandma Moses

Grandma Moses

6.2/10 IMDB

1950 short film portrait of the octogenarian folk artist. Nominated for an Oscar in the category "Best Short Subject, One-reel".

Starring: Archibald Macleish, Grandma Moses ..
Directed by: Jerome Hill
Release date: 1950-10-23

Touring Northern England

6.5/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short takes the viewer to several locations in the Lake Country of northern England. The first stop is Lake Windermere, the largest lake in England. Hawkshead, the second stop, is known for its connection to poet 'William Wordsworth', who is buried there. Next is a vacation resort on the shore of Morecambe Bay. The final destination is the ancient city of York, where we see the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1950-07-29
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Family Portrait

Family Portrait

6.1/10 IMDB

In preparation for the celebration of the 1951 Festival of Britain, this short film was released to assure British citizens of their nation's place in the world and of their own places within that nation. Illustrative scenes of farming, science, political, and social life are juxtaposed to present a familiar and reassuring image of Britain.

Starring: Michael Goodliffe ..
Directed by: Humphrey Jennings
Release date: 1950-12-01

Screen Actors

5.7/10 IMDB

This short film takes a look at the off-screen personas of screen actors.

Starring: John Nesbitt, Reginald Denny, Gail Patrick, Dan Duryea, Clark Gable, Donna Reed, Greer Garson, Bob Hope, Ava Gardner, Bing Crosby ..
Directed by: Hal Elias
Release date: 1950-05-13

Last Date

5.3/10 IMDB

Jeanne, a high school girl, dumps her dull boyfriend Larry for Nick, a local thug and hot-rodder she finds exciting. Nick terrifies everyone with his dangerous and reckless driving, but that only turns Jeanne on even more. One night as Nick and Jeanne are out zooming around the countryside and terrorizing motorists, Nick smashes into another car. Fortunately for Jeanne she wasn't killed, although everybody else was. Unfortuantely for Jeanne, however, her face now looks like something out of a Fellini movie. As she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror, she wails, "I've had my last date!"

Starring: Joan Taylor, Robert V. Stern, Sally Hughes, Dick York ..
Directed by: Lewis D. Collins
Release date: 1950-03-26
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Grandad of Races

Grandad of Races

5.8/10 IMDB

Grandad of Races is a 1950 American short documentary film about the Palio di Siena held in the Piazza del Campo in Siena, directed by André de la Varre. It won an Oscar at the 23rd Academy Awards in 1951 for Best Short Subject.

Starring: Art Gilmore ..
Directed by: André de la Varre
Release date: 1950-09-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : The Dangerous Stranger

The Dangerous Stranger

5.3/10 IMDB

In this film, a police officer tells children about the dangers of accepting rides or presents from strangers, and relates the unfortunate stories of several children who did and were never seen again.

Directed by: Sid Davis
Release date: 1950-02-24
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : My Country 'Tis of Thee

My Country 'Tis of Thee

5.1/10 IMDB

My Country 'Tis of Thee is a 1950 short documentary supervised by Gordon Hollingshead. It is a panoramic view of American history from the coming of the pilgrims all the way through to 1950. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Subject, Two-Reel.

Starring: Marvin Miller ..
Directed by: Gordon Hollingshead
Release date: 1950-12-01

This World of Ours: Denmark

7.8/10 IMDB

An insightful look at Denmark in the 1950s.

Release date: 1950-06-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Shapes and Forms

Shapes and Forms

7.8/10 IMDB

An expressive short film in which examples of early and modern art are juxtaposed to reveal correspondences.

Directed by: George Hoellering
Release date: 1950-02-01

This World of Ours: Norway

7.7/10 IMDB

Welcome to the ultimate experience in discovering real food. Welcome to an innovative new series presented by the celebrated international chef Sonja Lee. One or two basic ingredients are investigated in each program, one new country each time.

Release date: 1950-03-15
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : The Undefeated

The Undefeated

7.2/10 IMDB

Looking at how soldiers injured and disabled during WWII would be helped to live as normal a life as possible in the post war years.

Starring: Gerald Pearson, Leo Genn, Betty Marsden, Arthur Hill, Harry Locke, Kynaston Reeves, William Sherwood, Noel Coleman ..
Directed by: Paul Dickson
Release date: 1950-01-02

This Charming Couple

6.7/10 IMDB

Marriage training film dramatizing a partnership too fraught with conflicts to survive. Produced as part of a post-World War II initiative to make marriages more sustainable in the face of postwar dislocation.

Starring: Ken McCannon, Nancy Todd ..
Directed by: Willard Van Dyke
Release date: 1950-08-20

Jungle Safari

6.5/10 IMDB

Documentary on the making of King Solomon's Mines (1950), highlighting the seven custom-bodied Dodge trucks used for the transportation of cast and crew.

Starring: Frank Whitbeck ..
Release date: 1950-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : From the Ground Up

From the Ground Up

5.7/10 IMDB

Documentary short about how Britain is improving after WWII and what the populace can do to help.

Directed by: Cyril Frankel
Release date: 1950-01-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : So You Want to Hold Your Husband

So You Want to Hold Your Husband

6.6/10 IMDB

Fed up with Joe's indifference toward her, Alice McDoakes takes her troubles to a marriage counselor. None of the courses of action she is advised to take have any impact on Joe, until she is advised to create the impression that she has left Joe for another man.

Starring: George O'Hanlon, Monte Blue, Phyllis Coates, Art Gilmore, Fred Kelsey, Ted Stanhope ..
Directed by: Richard L. Bare
Release date: 1950-07-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : The Golden Twenties

The Golden Twenties

6.6/10 IMDB

Feature-length compilation of 1920s newsreel footage, with commentary about news, sports, lifestyles, and historical figures.

Starring: Robert Q. Lewis, Frederick Lewis Allen, Elmer Davis, Red Barber, Allen Prescott, John Barrymore, Irving Berlin, William Jennings Bryan, Billie Burke, Vilma Banky ..
Release date: 1950-04-07
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Life on the Thames

Life on the Thames

6.3/10 IMDB

This Traveltalks short visits cities and towns along the Thames River. It begins in London, with views of Cleopatra's Needle and the Tower Bridge. We then visit the Trout Inn at Oxford, a favorite gathering place for students at the university. After a short look at Eton, it's off to Henley-on-Thames and the world-famous regatta.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1950-08-26
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : The Costume Designer

The Costume Designer

6.4/10 IMDB

This short focuses on the job of the costume designer in the production of motion pictures. The costume designer must design clothing that is correct for the film historically and geographically, and must be appropriate for the mood of the individual scene. We see famed costume designer Edith Head at work on a production. The Costume Designer was part of The Industry Film Project, a twelve-part series produced by the film studios and the Academy. Each series episode was produced to inform the public on a specific facet of the motion picture industry.

Starring: Edith Head, Bess Flowers, Eve Arden, Joan Caulfield, Linda Darnell, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Ava Gardner, Betty Garrett, Betty Grable, Katharine Hepburn ..
Directed by: Tholen Gladden
Release date: 1950-07-13
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Aqua Frolics

Aqua Frolics

3.5/10 IMDB

A short which presents water-based activities popular in various locations around the United States.

Release date: 1950-01-01

Colorful Holland

6.3/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short visits four villages in the Netherlands.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Directed by: Ralph Donaldson
Release date: 1950-03-04

The Rock of Gibraltar

6.3/10 IMDB

Documentary on Gibraltar.

Starring: Dan McNamara ..
Release date: 1950-08-14

Pastoral Panoramas

6.0/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short highlights rural areas of England. We stop at the village of Bradford-on-Avon, with its thatched roofs, also Stoke Poges, the burial place of British poet Thomas Gray.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1950-04-15
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Curious Contests

Curious Contests

6.1/10 IMDB

This Pete Smith Specialty shows newsreel footage events that live up to the title. They include, among others, a diaper derby (the father who puts a diaper on his child fastest wins), a fireman's ball (two teams of fire fighters use high-pressure water hoses to move a large ball to score goals), and a basket race (men run a footrace while balancing a "tower" of ten baskets on their heads).

Starring: Pete Smith ..
Release date: 1950-11-11
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : The Soundman

The Soundman

6.1/10 IMDB

This short on movie sound men starts with a short history of sound in the movies. We then see how the different jobs in the sound department contribute to the finished film. They start with the technicians, who record the original sounds, and end with the re-recording mixer who takes several different tracks and blends them into a single soundtrack.

Directed by: Aaron Stell
Release date: 1950-01-13

West of England

6.0/10 IMDB

The people, the scenery and the industrial traditions of the Stroud valley and the growth of the woollen industry.

Starring: Stephen Murray ..
Directed by: Humphrey Swingler
Release date: 1950-12-31
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : To the Coast of Devon

To the Coast of Devon

5.9/10 IMDB

The first half of this Traveltalk entry is spent in the town of Bath, where we learn about the long history and architecture of the area. We then go to the coastal resort towns of Teignmouth and Torquay.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1950-07-15

Let's Visit Lancashire

5.7/10 IMDB

A chirpy travelogue guide to Lancashire.

Release date: 1950-08-20
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Adventure in Telezonia

Adventure in Telezonia

5.6/10 IMDB

A boy's dog has run off and, with the help of unfortunately named marionette Handy, the kid learns to use a telephone to find him. “Adventure in Telezonia” was part of an educational package distributed in grade schools for kids to learn proper telephone usage. More information, and the full film, at

Directed by: Bil Baird
Release date: 1950-01-01

Let's Make a Sandwich

5.4/10 IMDB

Sally and her mother make tuna rarebit for visiting guests.

Starring: Ted Meyers ..
Directed by: Miriam Bucher
Release date: 1950-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Too Hot to Handle

Too Hot to Handle

5.0/10 IMDB

This is an entire burlesque show, complete with a live band. Five strippers strut their stuff in between bawdy songs and sexy jokes delivered by burlesque singers and comedians.

Starring: Jean Carter, Leon DeVoe, Dixie Evans, Mannie King, Melodee Lane, Novita, Harry Savoy, Patti Waggin ..
Directed by: Lillian Hunt
Release date: 1950-01-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Fifty Years Before Your Eyes

Fifty Years Before Your Eyes

5.3/10 IMDB

A documentary about the major events of the first fifty years of the Twentieth Century.

Starring: Arthur Godfrey, Quentin Reynolds, H.V. Kaltenborn, Clem McCarthy, André Baruch, Norman Brokenshire ..
Directed by: Robert Youngson
Release date: 1950-06-27

You Can Beat the A-Bomb

5.2/10 IMDB

An educational film that instructs people on how to survive atomic bombs and the radiation they emit while following a family facing nuclear attack who calmly prepare for the aftermath. Shows the various modes of Civil Defense that were being developed to protect the American population in the event of a nuclear war.

Directed by: Walter Colmes
Release date: 1950-01-01

Control Your Emotions

4.4/10 IMDB

Jeff Moore, a high school student, has trouble controlling his emotions. An expert in the subject (though it's never explained who he is or what he's an expert in) assures the audience that Jeff's problems stem from the fact that he lets his emotions escape, instead of reining them in like everyone is supposed to. At the end, Jeff realizes that he must not let his emotions get in the way of logic and reason, and goes to a marshmallow roast with the gang.

Directed by: Ted Peshak
Release date: 1950-05-15

Activity Group Therapy

4.8/10 IMDB

This psychology documentary is about the positive effects of 'Activiy Group Therapy' developed by Dr. S.R. Slavson. Hidden cameras and microphones record the therapy sessions of a group of socially-maladjusted boys from their introduction to the group to the therapy's conclusion, which ultimately shows their progress in a social environment.

Release date: 1950-08-21

Screen Snapshots: Famous Cartoonists

5.5/10 IMDB

Ralph Staub zooms his Screen Snapshots camera in on many of the most famous newspaper comic-strip cartoonists and creators of the era. Notable in that all of the comic-strip characters referenced, with the exception of "Our Debbie" and "Smoky Stover", appeared in films or cartoons at some point or another, ranging from the silent years past 1950. Gus Edson's "Dondi" while not mentioned in this short, was also made into a feature film.

Directed by: Ralph Staub
Release date: 1950-05-25
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Appreciating Our Parents

Appreciating Our Parents

2.7/10 IMDB

A boy realizes that he could help his parents by doing things around the house.

Starring: Skip Peshak, Skip Peshak ..
Directed by: Ted Peshak
Release date: 1950-08-17

The Land of Auld Lang Syne

6.0/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short takes us to Edinburgh, Scotland. We learn the importance of religion, science and the arts here and see various historic sites including Edinburgh Castle.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1950-08-11

Why We Respect the Law

4.6/10 IMDB

Kent steals some wood from a lumber yard for some construction work on a baseball field. Afterwards he feels guilty about it, and goes to see a lawyer for advice on what to do. The lawyer gives him a speech about how disrespect for the law can lead to even worse crimes than stealing. After Kent shows the proper amount of contrition, the lawyer cuts a deal with the lumber company to have Kent work off the value of the wood he stole, teaching Kent a valuable lesson: while all that high-falutin' talk about respect for the law may be important, having the money to afford a slick lawyer who can keep you out of jail is much more important.

Directed by: Gil Altschul
Release date: 1950-08-19
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Journey to Banana Land

Journey to Banana Land

4.6/10 IMDB

A propagandistic film about the positive impact the United Fruit Company had on Guatemalan society.

Release date: 1950-01-02

Speech: Using Your Voice

2.3/10 IMDB

An educational short film about correct speaking methods.

Starring: E.C. Buehler, Frances Feist, Herk Harvey ..
Directed by: Arthur H. Wolf
Release date: 1950-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Overcoming Fear

Overcoming Fear

2.9/10 IMDB

How Bill overcomes his fear of the water through understanding its sources.

Release date: 1950-08-05

How to Lose What We Have

3.9/10 IMDB

A political parable urging continued emphasis on a free-market economy rather than resorting to government takeover of business - whether through communism or fascism. The promise of ideals such as full employment is contrasted with accompanying sacrifices in private choice.

Release date: 1950-08-19
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Sleep for Health

Sleep for Health

3.9/10 IMDB

Encyclopaedia Britannica outlines the basics of sleep hygiene.

Release date: 1950-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1950 : Wheels of Progress

Wheels of Progress

0.0/10 IMDB

Rock Island Railroad documentary on the role the railroad plays in making everyday life possible

Directed by: John A. McGee
Release date: 1950-01-01

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