Best Documentary Movies of 1956
Lucy's Really Lost Moments
The legendary Lucille Ball as you've never seen her before! Laugh along with Lucy and Desi in these extremely rare television appearances, beautifully restored! Includes a rare appearance of the I Love Lucy cast on the Bob Hope Show and the lost Lucy pilot. A must-have collection of gems from the first lady of comedy! - The I Love Lucy cast on the Bob Hope Show - Westinghouse special with Lucy and Desi - Segment with Lucy on the game show I've Got a Secret with panelist Johnny Carson - A rare lost Lucy pilot directed by Desi.
A tour of the Disneyland theme park.
Aluminum on the March
This short film presented by the Reynolds Metals Company details how aluminum is manufactured and illustrates the seemingly endless uses of this versatile product.
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.
A made-for-TV musical revue, compiled from soundies and film and TV performances by jazz greats from the 1930s to the 1950s.
Secrets of Life
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.
Our Mr. Sun
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.
The Plausible Impossible
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.
The Animal World
A documentary showcasing the world's many different animal species, both past and present.
A Moment in Love
A couple in love interacts across a multitude of environments.
The Wormwood Star
A portrait of artist, actress, poet and occultist Marjorie Cameron, it shows images of her paintings and recitations of her poems.
Momma Don't Allow
A night at the Wood Green Jazz Club - an example of 'Free Cinema'.
Oscar nominated short film from 1956
A City Decides
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.
A report on this extraordinary boom town that owes its fortune to oil.
Le Mariage de Monaco
Exclusive footage captures the wedding of American screen star Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco.
Unidentified Flying Objects: The True Story of Flying Saucers
Interviews and documentary footage combine with the fictional story of an air-force pilot who encounters aliens.
Olympic Games 1956
A documentary covering the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne and Stockholm.
Seven Years in Tibet
Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian moutain climber, escapes from a British POW camp in India and flees north across the Himalayan mountains into Tibet. There he meets and befriends the young Dalai Lama.
Crashing the Water Barrier
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.
The minutiae of daily life on Edinburgh's Rose Street in the fifties is presented in this impressionistic documentary piece.
Alert Today - Alive Tomorrow
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.
Big Blue Goose
In this RKO Sportscope short, a naturalist and his wife go to Louisiana bayou country to hunt a particular species of goose.
Lou Costello: This Is Your Life
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.
Famed explorer Lewis Cotlow leads a hunting and archaeological expedition into Africa.
The Museum and the Fury
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.
Out of Darkness
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.
Rockin' the Blues
DJ Hal Jackson is the all-rhyming onstage host of this all-black musical.
Any Man's Kingdom
A documentary showing aspects of long-disappeared rural life in Northumberland in 1953.
A day and night in the life of three alcoholic derelicts: "and the meek shall inherit the earth - six feet of it".
Basin Street Revue
A one-hour variety show performed live at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, featuring a who’s-who of vocal and big band jazz and comedy acts of the 1950s.
Faces in the Shadow
Experimental survey of down-and-outs in the city. - BFI
April in Portugal
Jackie Lane sightsees in Portugal.
High Dive Kids
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.
Orson Welles and People: Camille, the Naked Lady and the Musketeers
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.
Walt Disney's Where Do the Stories Come From?
Walt answers the often-asked question of just where the stories for his studio's cartoons come from, which is from practically anywhere.
The Miracle of Todd-AO
A short film demonstrating the new 70mm widescreen Todd-AO system.
The Naked Eye
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.
Screen Directors Playhouse: The Day I Met Caruso
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.
I Never Forget a Face
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.
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.
The Merchandise Mart
Documentary short about the Chicago landmark building where thousands of products are displayed for buyers, wholesalers, and tourists.
The Golden Equator
This short film focuses on the evolving country of Ecuador.
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.
Her Honor, the Nurse
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.
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.
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.
This RKO Sportscope series short features the annual Out Island Regatta held annually in the Bahamas.
The Land of Robert Burns
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.
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.