Best Documentary Movies of 1953

1.

Daybreak Express

3.9
7.5/10 IMDB

Set to a classic Duke Ellington recording "Daybreak Express", this is a five-minute short of the soon-to-be-demolished Third Avenue elevated subway station in New York City.

Directed by: D. A. Pennebaker
Release date: 1953-01-01
2.

The Living Desert

3.9
7.4/10 IMDB

Although first glance reveals little more than stones and sand, the desert is alive. Witness moving rocks, spitting mud pots, gorgeous flowers and the never-ending battle for survival between desert creatures of every shape, size and description.

Starring: Winston Hibler ..
Directed by: James Algar
Release date: 1953-11-10
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Bear Country
3.

Bear Country

3.3
7.9/10 IMDB

Bear Country is a 1953 American short documentary film directed by James Algar. It won an Academy Award at the 26th Academy Awards in 1954 for Best Short Subject (Two-Reel).[1] The film was produced by Walt Disney as part of the True-Life Adventures series of nature documentaries.

Starring: Winston Hibler ..
Directed by: James Algar
Release date: 1953-02-05
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Prowlers of the Everglades
4.

Prowlers of the Everglades

3.1
7.6/10 IMDB

Part of the "True-Life Adventure Series"; Disney filmmakers take their cameras to Florida, not to document the swamps that would become Walt Disney World, but to capture the lives of creatures in the everglades. Focusing primarily on alligators, we also see the behavior of animals such as snakebirds, raccoons, and even otters who like to "play" with the alligators.

Directed by: James Algar
Release date: 1953-07-23
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : This Is York
5.

This Is York

3.1
7.5/10 IMDB

A look at the 1953 transport infrastructure of York.

Directed by: J.B. Holmes
Release date: 1953-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : The Conquest of Everest
6.

The Conquest of Everest

3.0
7.3/10 IMDB

A documentary of the first successful expedition to the summit of Mount Everest. New Zealand's Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay climb Mount Everest in 1953.

Starring: Meredith Edwards, Edmund Hillary, Tenzing Norgay ..
Directed by: George Lowe
Release date: 1953-12-09
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : A Is for Atom
7.

A Is for Atom

3.0
6.9/10 IMDB

General Electric sponsors this explanation of atomic energy, detailing some of its uses besides the bomb. Using animation and an off-screen narrator, the film describes the atom, elements and isotopes, the discovery of transmutation, experiments in artificial transmutation, and the reasons for the power of nuclear fission. The film argues that now, besides war, the atomic age holds promise for energy, farming, medicine, and research. The promise of the atomic age will depend on human wisdom.

Directed by: Carl Urbano
Release date: 1953-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : The Great Adventure
8.

The Great Adventure

3.0
7.1/10 IMDB

A vixen mother invades a chicken coop to provide food for her cubs. She continues to raid the coop until she is shot by a farmer. The cubs are attacked by the farmer and only one survives. An otter trapped in a burrow is rescued by 10-year-old Anders and his six-year-old brother, Kjell. In secret, the boys cage the animal and finally domesticate it. They obtain food for the Otter by fishing through the ice on a frozen lake. The boys manage to keep their secret from their family. On the eve of the May Day festival, Kjell reveals to family and friends the otter's presence. Anders is so distressed that he runs into the woods with the otter. The otter breaks away and returns to its life of natural freedom. The film was a prize winner at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival.

Starring: Anders Nohrborg, Kjell Sucksdorff, Holger Stockman, Arne Sucksdorff, Amanda Haglund, Annika Ekedahl, Aina Fritzell ..
Directed by: Arne Sucksdorff
Release date: 1953-09-28
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : A Queen Is Crowned
9.

A Queen Is Crowned

2.9
7.2/10 IMDB

A lavish documentary film of Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation in 1953.

Starring: Laurence Olivier, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, King Charles III of the United Kingdom, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Louis Mountbatten, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Winston Churchill, Jawaharlal Nehru ..
Directed by: Michael Waldman
Release date: 1953-06-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : The Alaskan Eskimo
10.

The Alaskan Eskimo

2.9
6.8/10 IMDB

Oscar Winning short documentary

Starring: Winston Hibler ..
Directed by: James Algar
Release date: 1953-02-18
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : O Dreamland
11.

O Dreamland

2.7
6.5/10 IMDB

Lindsay Anderson's early documentary film of a British amusement park, the irony of its manufactured fun on full display.

Directed by: Lindsay Anderson
Release date: 1953-01-01
12.

Paul Tomkowicz: Street Railway Switchman

2.7
6.8/10 IMDB

In this film, Paul Tomkowicz, Polish-born Canadian, talks about his job and his life in Canada. He compares his new life in the city of Winnipeg to the life he knew in Poland, marvelling at the freedom Canadians enjoy. In winter the rail-switches on streetcar tracks in Winnipeg froze and jammed with freezing mud and snow. Keeping them clean, whatever the weather, was the job of the switchman.

Starring: Paul Tomkowicz, Tommy Tweed ..
Directed by: Roman Kroitor
Release date: 1953-01-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : The Elephant Will Never Forget
13.

The Elephant Will Never Forget

2.7
7.5/10 IMDB

A fond farewell to London's trams - whose peculiarly endearing qualities were discovered only at the threat of their disappearance.

Starring: Brewster Mason ..
Directed by: John Krish
Release date: 1953-01-01
14.

Land of the Ugly Duckling

2.7
6.4/10 IMDB

The ugly duckling of the title is Hans Christian Andersen, the author who wrote fairy tales that still delight readers to this day. This Traveltalk series entry tells the story of Andersen's life. We visit the city of his birth and journey to other places important in his life.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1953-01-03
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : The Sea Around Us
15.

The Sea Around Us

2.7
6.1/10 IMDB

Irwin Allen explores the mysteries of the deep blue sea in this Technicolor documentary. Based on Rachel L. Carson's famous study, this Oscar winning project investigates everything under the sea, from sharks, whales and octopuses to microscopical creatures and their coexistence in this vast underwater world.

Starring: Don Forbes, Theodore von Eltz ..
Directed by: Irwin Allen
Release date: 1953-06-30
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Operation Blue Jay
16.

Operation Blue Jay

2.7
6.4/10 IMDB

The U.S. Signal Corps construct a huge airbase in Thule, Greenland.

Directed by: Lester A. Marks
Release date: 1953-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Bread
17.

Bread

2.6
6.0/10 IMDB

Presented without voiceover, various kinds of breads are displayed and broken in a joyous celebration of starch, seed and salt.

Directed by: Charles Eames, Ray Eames
Release date: 1953-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : The Seafarers
18.

The Seafarers

2.6
5.1/10 IMDB

Acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick's first film made in color. The documentary focuses on the benefits of membership to the Seafarers International Union.

Starring: Don Hollenbeck, Paul Hall ..
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Release date: 1953-10-15
19.

All My Babies... A Midwife's Own Story

2.6
6.7/10 IMDB

Directed by: George C. Stoney
Release date: 1953-12-31
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Dance in the Sun
20.

Dance in the Sun

2.6
6.5/10 IMDB

Choreographer Daniel Nagrin performs in a studio and in the sun.

Starring: Daniel Nagrin, Sylvia Marshall ..
Directed by: Shirley Clarke
Release date: 1953-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Silent Night:  The Story of the Christmas Carol
21.

Silent Night: The Story of the Christmas Carol

2.6
6.5/10 IMDB

13-minute documentary taking a look at the song "Silent Night" from the time it was written to the music and finally to it being performed across the world.

Release date: 1953-01-01
22.

Cease Fire!

2.6
6.0/10 IMDB

A sometimes uncomfortable marriage between fact and fiction, this film is part documentary and part drama, mixing actual war footage with reenactments in which real veterans of the Korean War portray members of a platoon sent out on a reconnaissance mission near the end of the conflict. Though peace is imminent, violence unexpectedly erupts. A day that begins with the calm and mundane is transformed into a heated battle that typifies the cruel and unpredictable nature of war.

Directed by: Owen Crump
Release date: 1953-11-24
23.

Scotch Hop

2.5
5.6/10 IMDB

A fast-paced rhythmic impression of dancers, musicians and sportsmen at a highlands event.

Directed by: Christopher Maclaine
Release date: 1953-12-31
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor
24.

Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor

2.5
6.2/10 IMDB

Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor [also known as The Merry Wives of Windsor Overture] is a 1953 American short musical film produced by Johnny Green. The film consists of the MGM Symphony Orchestra playing the Overture to Otto Nicolai's opera The Merry Wives of Windsor, also conducted by Johnny Green. It won an Oscar in 1954 for Best Short Subject, One-Reel.

Starring: Johnny Green ..
Directed by: Johnny Green
Release date: 1953-12-22
25.

Nostradamus Says So!

2.3
5.3/10 IMDB

The life of the French seer and some of his selected quatrains are reviewed.

Starring: Carey Wilson, John Burton ..
Directed by: Peter Balbush
Release date: 1953-01-03
26.

Don't Get Angry

2.1
4.6/10 IMDB

This short film offers a children's guide to anger management.

Release date: 1953-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Oss Oss Wee Oss
27.

Oss Oss Wee Oss

1.8
7.6/10 IMDB

Padstow, a fishing village on the coast of Cornwall, celebrates May Day with an ancient custom: two osses (hobby-horses) dance through the town streets accompanied by drums and accordions. All Padstownians participate in the event, which has now become a tourist attraction drawing over tens of thousands of annual visitors. Folklorists Alan Lomax and Peter Kennedy and filmmaker George Pickow collected footage at the festival in 1951, producing a pioneering work in the use of sound, low-light photography, and conversational presentation of narrative. A favorite of Margaret Mead, who used it in her classes, the film circulated widely and continues to have influence today, especially in the neo-Pagan community.

Starring: Charlie Chilton, Charlie Bate ..
Directed by: Alan Lomax
Release date: 1953-01-02
28.

Sunday by the Sea

1.8
7.8/10 IMDB

London families spend a day at Southend-on-Sea.

Directed by: Anthony Simmons
Release date: 1953-01-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Farewell Oak Street
29.

Farewell Oak Street

1.7
7.6/10 IMDB

This documentary presents a before-and-after picture of people in a large-scale public housing project in Toronto. Due to a housing shortage, they were forced to live in squalid, dingy flats and ramshackle dwellings on a crowded street in Regent Park North; now they have access to new, modern housing developments designed to offer them privacy, light and space.

Starring: Roxanna Bond, Bonnie Brooks, Gerald Campbell, Eric Clavering, Andy Halmay, Cosie Lee, Edgar Marshall, Douglas Masters, Jim McRae, Kate Reid ..
Directed by: Grant McLean
Release date: 1953-06-15
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Halfway to Hell
30.

Halfway to Hell

1.7
4.3/10 IMDB

Documentary of war atrocities with newsreel footage of concentration camps.

Starring: Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Leon Trotsky, Czar Nicholas II of Russia, Quentin Reynolds ..
Directed by: Robert Snyder
Release date: 1953-02-21
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Below the Sahara
31.

Below the Sahara

1.6
6.9/10 IMDB

The photographic record of an African expedition led by producer-explorer Armand Denis and his (very) photogenic and camera-toting wife Michaela, who goes bird-riding at an ostrich farm. The expedition ranges from the central interior jungles and mountains to both coasts and as far south as Capetown, and ends with a gorilla hunt led by natives using 100-year-old muskets.

Starring: Armand Denis, Michaela Denis, Carr Hartley, Raymond Hook ..
Directed by: Armand Denis
Release date: 1953-05-30
32.

Beautiful Bavaria

1.6
6.8/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short visit to southern Germany begins in Berchtesgaden. After a boat ride on the Königssee and a look at the Neuschwanstein castle, we visit the village of Mittenwald, renowned for making violins, and then go to Oberammergau, where the famous Passion play is performed by village residents every ten years. The last stop is a village on the shore of the Tegernsee, where we see traditional Bavarian dances performed.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1953-04-04
33.

Little Smokey

1.6
6.8/10 IMDB

The story of Smokey the Bear, from cub in the woods to the Washington Zoo and the Forestry Service campaign.

Starring: William Boyd ..
Release date: 1953-01-01
34.

In the Valley of the Rhine

1.5
6.6/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short takes a trip on the Rhine river, with stops at Cologne, Bonn, and Koblenz.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1953-11-28
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : They Planted a Stone
35.

They Planted a Stone

1.5
6.3/10 IMDB

They Planted a Stone is a 1953 British short documentary film directed by Robin Carruthers and produced by James Carr. The film portrays how dams, barrages and irrigation canals were constructed on the Nile in Sudan, to generate hydroelectricity, irrigate the desert and create such projects as the Gezira Scheme. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.

Directed by: Robin Carruthers
Release date: 1953-01-01
36.

Delightful Denmark

1.5
6.5/10 IMDB

This travelogue begins with the vast agricultural wealth of the country, whose farmers can produce four times the amount required to feed the country's population. As such, the export of these agricultural products is a vital part of the country's economy. This agricultural tradition extends to its food consumption, as Denmark's vast array of open faced sandwiches is world renowned. It also extends to flower production and the Dane's love of flowers, which are sold in public markets. Denmark has a strong social support system, as witnessed by the free and mandatory public schooling, free medical services for expectant mothers and children, the provision of cooperative housing and housing for seniors, and the provision of old age pensions without premiums.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1953-06-26
37.

Wash and Brush Up

1.5
6.6/10 IMDB

Number 73020, a standard Class 5 locomotive, has been in traffic for sixteen days, and goes back to the sheds for cleaning inside and out and a detailed mechanical check-up. A team of men, each with his special job, takes over. Before they are reassembled, the parts are inspected; then steam raising begins again. After vacuum tests by the crew, coal is taken on, water topped up, and less than twenty-seven hours after entering the sheds 73020 is back on duty.

Directed by: Tony Thompson
Release date: 1953-01-02
38.

Copenhagen: 'City of Towers'

1.5
6.6/10 IMDB

This travelogue emphasizes Copenhagen's harmonious residents and tone. We see well-known landmarks and get a quick history of some of them.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1953-07-18
39.

A Place in the Team

1.5
6.4/10 IMDB

People will always need transport and transport will always need people. Addressed particularly to boys of school-leaving age and to young men completing their period of military service, this film shows some of the wide variety of careers which British Transport has to offer, whether in railways or in the docks, on the orads or on Britain's inland waterways. The good transport worker combines individual initiative with teamwork, and the work of the transport team is vital to the nation.

Release date: 1953-01-02
40.

Seeing Spain

1.5
6.3/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short looks at four of Spain's most famous cities, Granada, Seville, Toledo, and Madrid, with an emphasis on the Moors and their influence on the country.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1953-10-17
41.

Looking at Lisbon

1.4
6.0/10 IMDB

This quick look at Lisbon begins with aerial footage of the port city as the off-screen narrator provides some history of a seafaring, colonizing nation, of destructive earthquakes, and of contemporary construction. Then it's on to famous buildings and monuments, a look at female fishmongers who ply neighborhoods with baskets of fish on their heads, a survey of two nearby resort areas, watching a town's annual running of the bulls, and a visit to a bullfight, where the bulls are not killed.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1953-12-26
42.

Johannesburg: 'City of Gold'

1.4
5.7/10 IMDB

This Traveltalk series short discusses how Johannesburg began as a farming community, but with the discovery of gold in the area, the city embraced mining as its primary industry. Native workers came to the area to train to be miners, and even after their work in the mines ended, many decided to remain in Johannesburg. The natives' music and dance are highlights.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Release date: 1953-01-21
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Yesterday and Today
43.

Yesterday and Today

1.4
5.8/10 IMDB

A compilation of early-day silent films that serves as a glimpse back to the formative days of the movie industry as a salute to Hollywood's Golden Year, so proclaimed by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce as 1953.

Starring: George Jessel, Jean Arthur, Mary Astor, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Clara Bow, John Bunny, Eddie Cantor, Lon Chaney, Charlie Chaplin ..
Directed by: Abner J. Greshler
Release date: 1953-12-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Herring Hunt
44.

Herring Hunt

1.3
5.4/10 IMDB

Herring Hunt is a 1953 French-English language documentary about the operations of a herring boat off the coast of British Columbia, directed by Julian Biggs, written by Leslie McFarlane, and produced by Guy Glover. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Subject, One-Reel.

Directed by: Julian Biggs
Release date: 1953-01-01
45.

The Case Against the 20% Federal Admissions Tax on Motion Picture Theatres

1.3
5.4/10 IMDB

At the time this film was made, motion picture theaters were required to pay a 20% tax on gross ticket sales, and Congress was debating lowering this tax (as well as others) in a bill being considered by a Congressional committee. This film, which was made especially to be shown to members of the committee, sets forth the motion picture industry's case for reducing, if not eliminating, the tax.

Starring: Richard Anderson ..
Release date: 1953-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Artists Must Live
46.

Artists Must Live

1.2
5.0/10 IMDB

Art historian Basil Taylor presents the film and interviews several of its subjects, in between leisurely sequences surveying paintings and sculptures to the strains of the BBC Radio Orchestra.

Starring: Reg Butler, Clifford Ellis, Patrick Heron, Ivor Hitchens, Rodrigo Moynihan, John Piper, Basil Taylor, Keith Vaughan ..
Directed by: John Read
Release date: 1953-06-30
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Who Are the People of America?
47.

Who Are the People of America?

1.0
4.1/10 IMDB

A Coronet Instructional Film highlighting America's diversity.

Release date: 1953-08-05
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Building Better Paragraphs
48.

Building Better Paragraphs

0.7
2.6/10 IMDB

The members of a sixth-grade class learn to construct good paragraphs by composing a topic sentence, by relating other ideas to it in proper sequence and by composing an effective concluding sentence.

Release date: 1953-01-01
49.

Figures in a Landscape

0.0
0.0/10 IMDB

A documentary feature looking at examples of Barbara Hepworth's sculpture set against the Cornish settings that inspired them.

Starring: Cecil Day-Lewis ..
Directed by: Dudley Shaw Ashton
Release date: 1953-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1953 : Mahatma Gandhi: 20th Century Prophet
50.

Mahatma Gandhi: 20th Century Prophet

0.0
0.0/10 IMDB

Funded by the American Academy for Asian Studies and assembled from more than 10,000 feet of newsreel and documentary footage spanning 37 years of Mahatma Gandhi's life from his early public years to his 1948 assassination. As the footage rolls on, the development of the Hindu leader's life views and philosophy is also presented.

Starring: Quentin Reynolds, Mahatma Gandhi ..
Directed by: Stanley Neal
Release date: 1953-04-28

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