Best Documentary Movies of 1957
Letter from Siberia
One of Chris Marker's earliest documentaries (1957) and probably one of his best, the hour-long Letter From Siberia mixes new and found footage with inventive commentary, and is especially memorable for a passage in which footage is repeated while the offscreen commentary transforms its meaning with a different ideological interpretation. It is perhaps the earliest example we have of Marker's inimitable essayistic manner, hence an indispensable work.
Rembrandt, Painter of Man
In Rembrandt, Haanstra shows that it is possible to make a fascinating film only with images from paintings. He had to travel though all over Europe to numerous museums and private owners in order to film the works of art. In the work of the great painter, Haanstra recognizes his particular interest in man as an individual human being, cutting straight through all the religious motives. And Haanstra also wants to see Rembrandt as an individual.
On the Bowery
A mix of documentary and scripted footage on the Bowery, New York City's skid row. Against a backdrop of men (and a few women) drinking in bars, talking and arguing, and sleeping on sidewalks, we have the story of Ray.
A day in the life of the city and citizens of New York as seen through the fantastic eye, and the incredibly distorted optic lenses, of filmmaker Francis Thompson.
After the Ball
The life and loves of Music hall singer Vesta Tilley, who married into the nobility
Every Day Except Christmas
Every Day Except Christmas is a 37-minute documentary film filmed in 1957 at the Covent Garden fruit, vegetable and flower market, then located in the Covent Garden area of East central London. It was directed by Lindsay Anderson and produced by Karel Reisz and Leon Clore under the sponsorship of Ford of Britain, the first of the company's "Look At Britain" series.
An ethnographic film that documents the efforts of four !Kung men (also known as Ju/'hoansi or Bushmen) to hunt a giraffe in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia. The footage was shot by John Marshall during a Smithsonian-Harvard Peabody sponsored expedition in 1952–53. In addition to the giraffe hunt, the film shows other aspects of !Kung life at that time, including family relationships, socializing and storytelling, and the hard work of gathering plant foods and hunting for small game.
City of Gold
This classic short film from Pierre Berton depicts the Klondike gold rush at its peak, when would-be prospectors struggled through harsh conditions to reach the fabled gold fields over 3000 km north of civilization. Using a collection of still photographs, the film juxtaposes the Dawson City at the height of the gold rush with its bustling taverns and dance halls with the more tranquil Dawson City of the present.
One Potato, Two Potato
A study of games played by London schoolchildren in the streets and playgrounds. The games range from the traditional to the contemporary.
The James Dean Story
Released two years after James Dean's death, this documentary chronicles his short life and career via black-and-white still photographs, interviews with the aunt and uncle who raised him, his paternal grandparents, a New York City cabdriver friend, the owner of his favorite Los Angeles restaurant, outtakes from East of Eden, footage of the opening night of Giant, and Dean's ironic PSA for safe driving.