Best Documentary Movies of 1954
Narrated by actress Katharine Cornell and filmed in black and white, it spends the first 24 minutes introducing viewers, through newsreels, interviews, and old photographs, to the story of the deaf and blind disabled-rights pioneer. News footage shows her international appearances and visits with heads of state, including President Eisenhower allowing her to feel his face. The second half takes a day-in-the-(exceptional)-life approach to Keller's existence circa 1955. Made just 13 years before her death, Keller's famed tutor-translator-friend Anne Sullivan had already died, leaving her live-in replacement, Polly Thomson, to share the film's focus. From the time Keller takes her morning walk along the 1,000-foot handrail around her yard through her workday to her nightly reading of her Braille Bible, her serene acceptance of her life will amaze and inspire.
It's Everybody's Business
Animated propaganda advocating for the importance of unregulated capitalism to the American way of life.
Elizabethan Express is a 1954 British Transport Film that follows The Elizabethan, a non-stop British Railways service from London to Edinburgh along the East Coast Main Line. Although originally intended as an advertising short, it now acts as a nostalgic record of the halcyon years of steam on British Railways and the ex-LNER Class A4.
Won the Academy Award for the Best Documentary Short of 1954. The subject deals with the children at The Royal School for the Deaf in Margate, Kent. The hearing-handicapped children are shown painstakingly learning what words are through exercises and games, practicing lip-reading and finally speech. Richard Burton's calm and sometimes-poetic narration adds to the heartwarming cheerfulness and courage of the children.
In Paris Parks
This short film displays the dynamic movement of people as they enter and exit parks in Paris.
Glimpses of Western Germany
This James A. FitzPatrick Traveltalks short visits the West German cities of Hamburg, Bremen, Munich, and Heidelberg. Included are scenes of World War II destruction that lingered at the time.
This Mechanical Age
This Mechanical Age is a 1954 American short documentary film about the early days of aviation, produced by Robert Youngson. In 1955, it won an Oscar for Best Short Subject [One-Reel] at the 27th Academy Awards
Mickey Spillane's 'Mike Hammer!'
Pilot episode of an unreleased television series. Blake Edwards filmed and sent this first television attempt to film Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer in 1954, but the "pilot" went unsold and was archived because it was too naturalistic and violent for the small screen at the time. It was accidentally discovered, restored and posted on the Internet. Brian Keith stars as Mike Hammer.
The Back of Beyond
This 1954 classic follows an outback mailman as he travels along the Birdsville Track.
The Stratford Adventure
This short film depicts how a small Canadian city, bearing the name of Stratford and by a river Avon, created its own renowned Shakespearean theatre. The film tells how the idea grew, how a famous British director, international stars and Canadian talent were recruited, and how the Stratford Shakespearean Festival finally became a triumphant reality.
Few films wield the awesome spiritual power of Jazz Dance, on which Leacock was one of two cameramen charting the slow, smoldering build of a Manhattan dance club from idle space to explosive, carnal bacchanal. Employing handheld cameras, limited light and sheer proximity, the film achieved an intimacy never before witnessed in a documentary.
Oscar nominated short film from 1954
The First Piano Quartette
The First Piano Quartette is a 1954 short documentary film directed by Otto Lang. It shows the First Piano Quartette composed of Adan Garner, Edward Edson, Frank Mittler and Glauco D'Attilli as they play Lecuona's "Malaguena," Debussy's "Clair de Lune," and John Phillip Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever." The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Subject, One-Reel.
Victory at Sea
A feature-length, condensed version of the 1952 documentary TV series 'Victory at Sea'.
Corral is a 1954 National Film Board of Canada documentary by Colin Low, partly shot in the Cochrane Ranch in what is now Cochrane, Alberta. In the film, a cowboy rounds up wild horses, lassoing one of the high-spirited animals in the corral, then going on a ride across the Rocky Mountain Foothills of Alberta.
Travelogue/documentary follows newly married Rita Hayworth and Prince Aly Khan on their honeymoon trip through exotic locales.
Out of This World
Filmed in 1949 when Lowell Thomas and Lowell Thomas Jr. took a journey to Tibet before the Chinese had moved in. It shows Tibet as it was then and, for that matter, as it had been for centuries.
The Heart of England
The Cotswolds are the largest areas of Britain, stretching over a hundred miles from Chipping Camden to the city of Bath.
In this short film, champion fisherman Ernie St. Claire tries to catch a large salmon in Oregon's Rogue River.
Jet Carrier is a 1954 American short documentary film produced by Otto Lang as a CinemaScope Special. It was nominated for two Academy Awards - one for Best Documentary Short, and the other for Best Two-Reel Short. It was filmed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown.
Out of This World
An angel and a devil try to persuade a borderline wholesale bakery salesman to their side.
The French Peep Show
A filmed burlesque show, staged at the El Rey Theater in Oakland, CA.
The Secret of Selling the Negro
Film commissioned by the Chicago-based publisher of Negro Digest, Ebony, Tan, and Jet to encourage advertisers to reach out to African American consumers. The Secret of Selling the Negro depicts the lives, activities, and consumer behavior of African American professionals, students, and housewives. A Business Screen reviewer noted that the film focused on the “bright positive” aspects of the “new Negro family.” The sponsor issued a companion booklet offering the “do’s and don’ts of selling to the Negro.”
The Truck Farmer
An interesting little short about the exploitative system of the 1930's-50's that used cheap Mexican workers (that "cross the border on temporary work permits to *help* with the harvest").
Circus on Ice
Based on the 40th Annual Carnival of the Toronto Skating Club.
The Selling Wizard
A commercial short film presented by Anheuser-Busch to showcase large modern freezers that make it easier for grocers to sell their goods and make higher profits. It is aimed at businesses that require display freezers for their products.
The Case of Mr. Critic
Our achievements since Independence are great enough to sustain our faith in our country's future. Some of these are the river valley projects, the irrigation schemes, the production locomotives and aircraft. But there are some people who decry every new idea and scheme. This film shows the damage caused by loose and irresponsible talk and highlights the need for active participation in the building up of our country.
Hamlet: The Actor's View
One of the greatest Hamlets of the 20th century Sir John Gielgud reflects on the play and its title character with which he used to be intimately associated for ever since 1929.
On the track to the midnight sun
American tourists explore Sweden by train
A nation's culture is a measure of its maturity. Culture, however is a living reality and our daily lives reflect in how we behave towards one another. This film approaches this subject and emphasises the need for consideration of others, which is the best foundation for good manners.
Expedition to Mi-nyag
Dr. Joseph F. Rock was one of the leading anthropological explorers of the early 20th century. Expedition to Mi-nyag is a journey into Sikang Province, China, and a first exploration of the Mi-nyag mountains. Originally produced in 1954, using footage filmed in 1928-1930.
The Freight Train
EB Films presents a documentary on the life of the freight train in America.
Survival in the Bush
This short documentary illustrates what to do when you're lost in the bush. Filmed in 1954, an NFB producer and a Native guide allow themselves to be marooned in the bush with only an axe and their wits as means of survival. They eat off the land, build their own birchbark canoe and make their way out.
This film shows how the Central Plateau of the North Island was transformed into fertile pastureland by the men of the Land Settlement Board and the Lands and Survey Department. Cobalt was imported from Canada and sulphur from Louisiana. Hillsides were burnt off and the soil ploughed, fertilised and sown with seed and phosphate.
A busy Saturday in Kidderminster: shoppers crowd the pavements, a policeman directs traffic. Suddenly the alert is sounded and the full force of the Cold War descends.
Made by The National Film Board 1954, this film captures the delightful city of Adelaide, capital of South Australia. The city set against a background of hills, owes a lot to its original plan by Colonel Light. The film displays the beauty of its wide streets and impressive public buildings and also features landscape painter Hans Heysen.
Let's Face It
1954 civil defense short film describing the threat of an impending nuclear attack.
The Vanishing Prairie
Story of the American Prairie as it was when vast herds of bison and elk grazed.
The Research Director
A description of the work of a research director of a United Steel Workers Union in Canada. The painstaking research and analyses of economic information, and the arrangement of arguments that lie beneath the negotiations of labour unions for better wages and working conditions are shown.
People are interviewed in Dresden, Ontario, to sample local attitudes towards racial discrimination against black people that brought this town into the news. After a round-up of the opinions of individual citizens, white and black, commentator Gordon Burwash joins two discussion panels, presenting opposite points of view. The rights and wrongs of the quarrel are left for the audience to decide.
S-73 (Sofa Compact)
This film traces the design development of the Eames Sofa Compact, which folds for easy flat-pack shipping. The film, one of the first Charles and Ray made for Herman Miller, starts in a rail yard, where we discover that volume is more expensive than weight. This fact led to the Eames’s firm resolve to flat pack their sofa. The film highlights the ease of unpacking and setting up the sofa, as well as the sofa’s comfort and practicality with regard to the life of service.
Salvador Dalí Home Movie
In Salvador Dalí’s home movies, the 50-year-old Surrealist artist plays with a kitten, an animal skull, and a rake to entertain a friend filming him on the terrace of his villa in Port Lligat, Costa Brava, Spain.
The Troubled Mind
A dramatised documentary featuring Adrienne Corri, made to recruit women for training as nurses in ‘mental hospitals.’ It takes a deeply humane and stylistically vivid approach. Some of the treatments shown would be considered unsuitable today.
The Disneyland Story
Walt Disney presents a preview for both his upcoming park called Disneyland and several episodes of the show to come. Then the show focuses primarily on the career of Mickey Mouse.
The Atom Goes to Sea
Explains how an atomic powered submarine operates. Includes scenes at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Schenectady and the submarine reactor test site at West Milton, New York.
I Will Speak English
'An instructional film made on behalf of the Department of Social Welfare, demonstrating a new technique to teach English to illiterate adult audiences in the Gold Coast. (..) This is a film with an almost entirely African cast, depicting an African teacher instructing a group of African students, produced by a predominantly African crew. Yet, the subject of the film – encouraging the widespread teaching of English – jars with this image of a modern Gold Coast. Just as the Gold Coast Film Unit was overseen by British figures – such as Sean Graham and, in this case, George Noble – this film also endorses the retention of British influence within a new national identity'. - Tom Rice, for colonialfilm.org
Salute to A.P.
A BBC Television film recalling the part Alexandra Palace has played in British television between 1935 and 1954. It shows the erection of the first transmitter, the building of 'A' and 'B' studios, and introduces scenes and excerpts from early television productions and outside broadcasts.
Wheels of Steel
Documentary on the railroads that drive the nation written and produced by Jackson Pokress.
At Slagen, Hudøy and several other places, Oslo Municipality drove holiday colonies where children from the city could vacation in the summer. At Dal there was a separate holiday colony for tuberculosis-infested children. Some children were also sent for holiday stays on farms. More than 5,000 children received a stay at municipal or private holiday colonies every summer.
Under the Southern Cross
Married photographers Armand and Michaela Denis focus on Australian natives.