Best Documentary Movies of 1956

1.

Disneyland, U.S.A

3.4
7.9/10 IMDB

A tour of the Disneyland theme park.

Starring: Walt Disney, Buddy Ebsen, Fess Parker ..
Directed by: Hamilton Luske
Release date: 1956-12-20
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Aluminum on the March
2.

Aluminum on the March

3.2
7.3/10 IMDB

This short film presented by the Reynolds Metals Company details how aluminum is manufactured and illustrates the seemingly endless uses of this versatile product.

Release date: 1956-01-01
3.

Secrets of Life

3.2
7.3/10 IMDB

A feature-length documentary showing the changing world of nature, the sky, the sea, the sun, planets, insects and volcanic action. A story of nature's strange and intricate designs for survival and her many methods of perpetuating life.

Starring: Winston Hibler ..
Directed by: James Algar
Release date: 1956-11-06
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Link Span
4.

Link Span

3.1
6.6/10 IMDB

Twenty-four hours in the story of the British Railways Channel ferryboats, the 'link spans' directly joining the roads and railways of Britain with those of France and all the Continent. The Lord Warden laden with an assortment of road vehicles from Dover, and the Night Ferry from Newhaven carrying passengers bound for Paris, Vienna or Rome are two of the ferries illustrated in this film; and freight is not forgotten.

Starring: Michael Goodliffe ..
Directed by: Michael Clarke
Release date: 1956-01-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Our Mr. Sun
5.

Our Mr. Sun

3.1
7.5/10 IMDB

One entry in a series of films produced to make science accessible to the masses—especially children—this film describes the sun in scientific but entertaining terms.

Starring: Eddie Albert, Lionel Barrymore, Frank Baxter, Marvin Miller, Sterling Holloway ..
Directed by: Frank Capra, William T. Hurtz
Release date: 1956-11-19
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : The Plausible Impossible
6.

The Plausible Impossible

3.1
7.3/10 IMDB

Walt Disney explains some of the techniques of animation, and includes for the first time the pencil test footage of the "Soup Eating Sequence" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Walt references a book called "The Art of Animation" which shows a technique that is used in animated cartoons that dates back to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks.

Starring: Walt Disney ..
Directed by: William Beaudine
Release date: 1956-10-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : The Animal World
7.

The Animal World

2.9
6.9/10 IMDB

A documentary showcasing the world's many different animal species, both past and present.

Starring: John Storm, Theodore von Eltz ..
Directed by: Irwin Allen
Release date: 1956-05-30
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : A Moment in Love
8.

A Moment in Love

2.8
6.7/10 IMDB

A couple in love interacts across a multitude of environments.

Starring: Carmela Gutierrez, Paul Sanasardo ..
Directed by: Shirley Clarke
Release date: 1956-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Momma Don't Allow
9.

Momma Don't Allow

2.8
6.6/10 IMDB

A night at the Wood Green Jazz Club - an example of 'Free Cinema'.

Starring: Chris Barber, Lonnie Donegan, Ottilie Patterson, Chris Barber ..
Directed by: Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz
Release date: 1956-02-05
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Samoa
10.

Samoa

2.8
6.2/10 IMDB

Oscar nominated short film from 1956

Starring: Winston Hibler ..
Directed by: Ben Sharpsteen
Release date: 1956-12-25
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : The Wormwood Star
11.

The Wormwood Star

2.8
5.9/10 IMDB

A portrait of artist, actress, poet and occultist Marjorie Cameron, it shows images of her paintings and recitations of her poems.

Starring: Marjorie Cameron ..
Directed by: Curtis Harrington
Release date: 1956-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : A City Decides
12.

A City Decides

2.6
6.4/10 IMDB

A City Decides chronicles the events that led to the integration of the St. Louis public schools in 1954. An Oscar-nominated short documentary from 1956.

Directed by: Charles Guggenheim
Release date: 1956-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : The Wedding in Monaco
13.

The Wedding in Monaco

2.6
6.1/10 IMDB

Exclusive footage captures the wedding of American screen star Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco.

Starring: Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier III of Monaco ..
Directed by: Jean Masson
Release date: 1956-05-17
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Unidentified Flying Objects: The True Story of Flying Saucers
14.

Unidentified Flying Objects: The True Story of Flying Saucers

2.6
5.3/10 IMDB

Interviews and documentary footage combine with the fictional story of an air-force pilot who encounters aliens.

Starring: Willis Sperry, Nicholas Mariana, Delbert Newhouse, Wendell Swanson, Tom Towers, Floyd Burton, Gene Coughlan, Bert Freed, Olan Soule ..
Directed by: Winston Jones
Release date: 1956-05-03
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Crashing the Water Barrier
15.

Crashing the Water Barrier

2.5
6.0/10 IMDB

The story of Donald Campbell, son of the late Sir Malcolm Campbell, British champion auto-racer, and his efforts to survive driving a jet-powered boat at record speeds on Lake Meade, Nevada. After a number of failures at breaking the water-speed record of 216 mph, Campbell and his boat, the 'Bluebird', set a new record by, at times, breaking 250 mph.

Starring: Knox Manning, Donald Campbell, Jay Jackson ..
Directed by: Konstantin Kalser
Release date: 1956-04-15
16.

Rose Street

2.5
6.2/10 IMDB

The minutiae of daily life on Edinburgh's Rose Street in the fifties is presented in this impressionistic documentary piece.

Directed by: Margaret Tait
Release date: 1956-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Olympic Games 1956
17.

Olympic Games 1956

2.4
5.8/10 IMDB

A documentary covering the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne and Stockholm.

Starring: Peter Whitchurch, Harp McGuire ..
Directed by: Peter Whitchurch
Release date: 1956-12-31
18.

Alert Today - Alive Tomorrow

2.3
5.5/10 IMDB

This short shows how the city of Reading, Pennsylvania would implement civil defense procedures to help residents survive a nuclear attack. Through a network of volunteers, makeshift hospitals would be set up, auxiliary police officers would maintain order, and other elements of the civil defense program would be put in place.

Starring: André Baruch, Val Peterson, Marguerite Osmond ..
Directed by: Larry O'Reilly
Release date: 1956-11-07
19.

Big Blue Goose

1.9
4.8/10 IMDB

In this RKO Sportscope short, a naturalist and his wife go to Louisiana bayou country to hunt a particular species of goose.

Starring: Harry Wismer ..
Directed by: Van Campen Heilner
Release date: 1956-10-26
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Lou Costello: This Is Your Life
20.

Lou Costello: This Is Your Life

1.9
8.5/10 IMDB

Beloved comedian Lou Costello is the subject, detailing his partnership with Bud Abbott, his unsuccessful start in 1920s Hollywood, and the tragic drowning of Lou's not quite 1 year old son Lou Jr., nicknamed Butch.

Starring: Lou Costello, Bud Abbott, Ralph Edwards ..
Directed by: Richard Gottlieb
Release date: 1956-11-21
21.

Zanzabuku

1.8
7.0/10 IMDB

Famed explorer Lewis Cotlow leads a hunting and archaeological expedition into Africa.

Starring: Lewis Cotlow, Ronald Davidson ..
Directed by: Lewis Cotlow
Release date: 1956-04-12
22.

The Museum and the Fury

1.8
8.6/10 IMDB

From the perspective of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, documentary material, amongst this the freeing of the camp and the Nuremberg Trials with clips from films which were produced shortly after the war, and pictures of museum visitors are assembled into an essay about memory.

Starring: Josephine Kirk ..
Directed by: Leo Hurwitz, Peggy Lawson
Release date: 1956-01-01
23.

Out of Darkness

1.7
7.6/10 IMDB

Three months in the life of a patient at Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, CA. Therapy sessions of a young woman with catatonic schizophrenia and her gradual journey to recovery.

Starring: Orson Welles ..
Directed by: Al Wasserman
Release date: 1956-12-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Any Man's Kingdom
24.

Any Man's Kingdom

1.6
7.3/10 IMDB

A documentary showing aspects of long-disappeared rural life in Northumberland in 1953.

Directed by: Tony Thompson
Release date: 1956-01-01
25.

Skid Row

1.6
7.2/10 IMDB

A day and night in the life of three alcoholic derelicts: "and the meek shall inherit the earth - six feet of it".

Starring: Art Hives ..
Directed by: Allan King
Release date: 1956-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Faces in the Shadow
26.

Faces in the Shadow

1.6
7.1/10 IMDB

Experimental survey of down-and-outs in the city. - BFI

Directed by: Peter Weiss
Release date: 1956-01-01
27.

High Dive Kids

1.6
6.7/10 IMDB

In this Sportscope short, children from preschool age through age 14 are shown diving from various heights into a swimming pool. Lissa Bengston, of the Royal Academy of Physical Education in Stockholm, Sweden, supervises the children's activities.

Starring: Harry Wismer, Lissa Bengston ..
Release date: 1956-11-23
28.

Orson Welles and People: Camille, the Naked Lady and the Musketeers

1.6
6.8/10 IMDB

Orson Welles and People was a 1956 pilot for a projected documentary series by Orson Welles, which is now believed to be lost. The pilot was a portrait of Alexandre Dumas, entitled "Camille, the Naked Lady and the Musketeers". It was filmed in just one day in October 1956, at a Poverty Row studio in Hollywood using the $5,000 fee that Welles had earned from his guest appearance on I Love Lucy. Welles used photo stills and drawings to illustrate the programme. He hoped that future episodes would profile Winston Churchill and P. T. Barnum.

Starring: Orson Welles ..
Directed by: Orson Welles
Release date: 1956-12-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Walt Disney's Where Do the Stories Come From?
29.

Walt Disney's Where Do the Stories Come From?

1.6
7.1/10 IMDB

Walt answers the often-asked question of just where the stories for his studio's cartoons come from, which is from practically anywhere.

Starring: Walt Disney, Kirk Douglas, Ollie Johnston, Ward Kimball, Oliver Wallace, Milt Banta, Al Bertino, David Detiege ..
Directed by: Jack Hannah, Charles A. Nichols
Release date: 1956-04-03
30.

Rockin' the Blues

1.6
7.7/10 IMDB

DJ Hal Jackson is the all-rhyming onstage host of this all-black musical.

Starring: Hal Jackson ..
Directed by: Arthur Rosenblum
Release date: 1956-10-11
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : The Miracle of Todd-AO
31.

The Miracle of Todd-AO

1.5
6.6/10 IMDB

A short film demonstrating the new 70mm widescreen Todd-AO system.

Release date: 1956-04-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : The Naked Eye
32.

The Naked Eye

1.5
6.5/10 IMDB

The Naked Eye is a 1956 American documentary film about the history of photography directed by Louis Clyde Stoumen. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Starring: Raymond Massey ..
Directed by: Louis Clyde Stoumen
Release date: 1956-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Screen Directors Playhouse: The Day I Met Caruso
33.

Screen Directors Playhouse: The Day I Met Caruso

1.5
6.5/10 IMDB

A ten-year-old girl meets famed opera singer Enrico Caruso on a train between Boston and New York. She admonishes him for his extravagant lifestyle, but she is softened up somewhat when Caruso begins to sing arias from her favorite operas.

Starring: Lotfi Mansouri, Sandy Descher, Bill Walker, Emily Lawrence, Walter Coy, Barbara Eiler, Tito Vuolo ..
Directed by: Frank Borzage
Release date: 1956-09-05
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : I Never Forget a Face
34.

I Never Forget a Face

1.5
6.4/10 IMDB

This Warner Bros. vignette features short snippets about well known people. It includes presidential candidate Warren Harding and his front porch campaign in his home town of Marion, Ohio where Al Jolson sang to the crowd; his successor, Calvin Coolidge; William Jennings Bryan at the 1920 Democratic convention where FDR was selected as the Vice Presidential candidate; the visit of the Prince of Wales; the so-called monkey trial that pitted Clarence Darrow against Bryan; Richard Bird as he trained for his flight over the North Pole; and finally George Bernard Shaw on a visit to America.

Starring: Dwight Weist, Ward Wilson ..
Directed by: Robert Youngson
Release date: 1956-04-28
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Aqua Babes
35.

Aqua Babes

1.5
6.5/10 IMDB

This short subject shows Lissa Bengston teaching a group of three- and four-year-olds how to swim in a pool. Miss Bengston, a member of the Royal Academy of Physical Education, Stockholm, Sweden, believes that at this age, children have no fear of the water and, therefore, can be taught to use their natural abilities to swim.

Starring: Harry Wismer, Lissa Bengston ..
Directed by: Ernest Corts
Release date: 1956-08-03
36.

The Merchandise Mart

1.5
6.3/10 IMDB

Documentary short about the Chicago landmark building where thousands of products are displayed for buyers, wholesalers, and tourists.

Starring: Peter Roberts ..
Directed by: Larry O'Reilly
Release date: 1956-04-27
37.

The Golden Equator

1.5
6.3/10 IMDB

This short film focuses on the evolving country of Ecuador.

Starring: Fred Manness ..
Directed by: Hamilton Wright
Release date: 1956-03-30
38.

Cannibal Island

1.5
6.4/10 IMDB

Though the release date says 1956, this film consists mostly of footage from a 1931 documentary called "Gow the Killer." It was the first sound film to deal with cannibalism, as it documented the social life and customs of primitive tribes that in fact did engage in cannibalism.

Release date: 1956-02-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Her Honor, the Nurse
39.

Her Honor, the Nurse

1.4
6.0/10 IMDB

This RKO-Pathe Screenliner short looks at the duties of the modern nurse. The story tracks the education of a student nurse as she works toward graduation and shows the earning of her cap during her student days, in retrospect. At the beginning, she wears the Student Nurse uniform dress and apron only, with no cap. She appears later in the movie as a more experienced Senior student with her cap already wearing a stripe. This was frequently done in the three year hospital programs to differentiate the Junior level students from the Seniors, more experienced and closer to Graduation. The capping ceremony illustrated shows the bare headed students receiving their plain white cap, and addressing it as something from her past that she will remember fondly.

Starring: Peter Roberts ..
Directed by: Harry W. Smith
Release date: 1956-01-06
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Operation Cue
40.

Operation Cue

1.4
6.4/10 IMDB

A reporter is given a tour of the Nevada Test Site before witnessing an atom bomb detonation, part of the Operation Teapot series of nuclear tests in 1955.

Starring: Joan Collin ..
Release date: 1956-01-01
41.

Fortune Seekers

1.4
6.1/10 IMDB

This short film celebrates the hard work, tenacity, and ingenuity of inventors. Highlighted are some seemingly small inventions that have become part of daily life.

Starring: Bob Hite ..
Directed by: Larry O'Reilly
Release date: 1956-02-03
42.

Island Windjammers

1.4
6.1/10 IMDB

This RKO Sportscope series short features the annual Out Island Regatta held annually in the Bahamas.

Starring: André Baruch, Spence Burton, Thomas Daniel Knox, J. Linton Rigg ..
Directed by: Howard Winner
Release date: 1956-01-20
43.

The Land of Robert Burns

1.4
6.0/10 IMDB

This short, evocative account of the poet's life is set among contemporary scenes of the people of south-west Scotland as they grow from children to manhood. A representative selection of his songs takes on fresh significance when heard against a background of the people and the countryside he knew and loved. The film's score is by Cedric Thorpe Davie, and the songs are sung by the Saltire Singers.

Directed by: Joe Mendoza
Release date: 1956-01-02
44.

Canoeman's Holiday

1.4
6.1/10 IMDB

The owners of the Loon Bay Lodge in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada usually plan fishing and rafting trips for their guests. In this short they take such a trip themselves down the St. Croix River, which forms the southern end of the international boundary between New Brunswick and the state of Maine.

Starring: Harry Wismer, George Wheelock, Jean Wheelock, Scott Wright, Elmo Wright ..
Directed by: Douglas Sinclair
Release date: 1956-09-28
45.

Sentinels in the Air

1.4
6.0/10 IMDB

This short shows the important role played by members of the U.S. Air Force Reserve in the USA's defense against enemy attack.

Starring: Robert Preston ..
Directed by: Howard Winner
Release date: 1956-02-10
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Tale of a Trotter
46.

Tale of a Trotter

1.4
5.8/10 IMDB

This short follows the life a harness racehorse named "Spunky" from foal, through training, to the finish of his first race at Yonkers Raceway.

Starring: Peter Roberts, Marty Glickman, Spunky ..
Release date: 1956-12-31
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Canadian Lancers
47.

Canadian Lancers

1.4
5.6/10 IMDB

This Sportscope short shows youngsters (8 years old and up) training at the Junior Bengal Lancers riding school in Halifax. Later they demonstrate their skills at a celebration in Annapolis, Nova Scotia. Six-year-old Heather Cameron, who is too young to be a student, is named official mascot of the unit.

Starring: Peter Roberts, Mark Facey, Heather Cameron ..
Directed by: Douglas Sinclair
Release date: 1956-03-16
48.

Why Study Industrial Arts

1.4
2.5/10 IMDB

A high school student really likes his shop class… perhaps a bit too much!

Starring: Chuck Lacey ..
Directed by: Herk Harvey
Release date: 1956-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : Alaska Lifeboat
49.

Alaska Lifeboat

1.4
5.8/10 IMDB

This "Theater of Life" series short focuses on a medical services ship that stops in the native village of Haines, Alaska. The natives are depicted as superstitious of modern medicine. In the end, however, youngster Ralph Sarlan (the only person identified by the narrator) is taken by airplane to get corrective surgery on his deformed foot.

Release date: 1956-11-16
Best Documentary Movies of 1956 : You're Growing Up
50.

You're Growing Up

1.3
5.7/10 IMDB

The four periods of growing up, from birth to age 20, are highlighted in this training film about learning how to accept help from others.

Release date: 1956-07-21

Also check Best documentary movies of 1957.

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