Best Documentary Movies of 1960
Jazz on a Summer's Day
Set at the Newport jazz festival in 1958, this documentary mixes images of water and the town with performers and audience. The film progresses from day to night and from improvisational music to Gospel. It's a concert film that suggests peace and leisure, jazz at a particular time and place.
Primary is a documentary film about the primary elections between John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey in 1960. Primary is the first documentary to use light equipment in order to follow their subjects in a more intimate filmmaking style. This unconventional way of filming created a new look for documentary films where the camera’s lens was right in the middle of what ever drama was occuring.
Blue Pullman is a 1960 short documentary film directed by James Ritchie, which follows the development, preparation and a journey from Manchester to London on new British Railways Blue Pullman units. As with earlier British Transport Films, many of the personnel, scientists, engineers, crew and passengers were featured in the 20 minute film. It won several awards, including the Technical & Industrial Information section of the Festival for Films for Television in 1961. The film is also particularly noted for its score, by Clifton Parker, which, unlike the earlier Elizabethan Express is uninterrupted by any commentary.
A triumph of film art, creating on the screen a vast, awe-inspiring picture of the universe as it would appear to a voyager through space, this film was among the sources of inspiration used by Stanley Kubrick for his 2001: A Space Odyssey. Realistic animation takes you into far regions of space, beyond the reach of the strongest telescope, past Moon, Sun, and Milky Way, into galaxies yet unfathomed.
Integration Report 1
Integration Report 1, Madeline Anderson's trailblazing debut, was the first known documentary by an African American female director. With tenacity, empathy and skill, Anderson assembles a vital record of desegregation efforts around the country in 1959 and 1960, featuring footage by documentary legends Albert Maysles and Richard Leacock and early Black cameraman Robert Puello, singing by Maya Angelou, and narration by playwright Loften Mitchell. Anderson fleetly moves from sit-ins in Montgomery, Alabama to a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C. to a protest of the unprosecuted death in police custody of an unarmed Black man in Brooklyn, capturing the incredible reach and scope of the civil rights movement, and working with this diverse of footage, as she would later say, “like an artist with a palette using different colors.”
Return to Life
A refugee family comes to terms with living in England and adjusting to a new language and culture.
Islands of the Sea
This short covers some of the wildlife (predominently birds) on four islands-the Galapagos, Guadelupe, Falklands and an island in the Midway chain. While touching very briefly on the turtles of Galapagos and a bit more in-depth on two varieties of iguana and a species of crab, the documentary focuses primarily on birds, including several species of penguin on at least two of the islands, cormorants, frigate birds and the albatross.
This final True-Life Adventure would also appear to be one of the best, as we go into the South American jungle to observe the jaguar. Jungle Cat is more intimate than its kin, allowing individual animal characters to be developed. Central to the cast is a pair of jaguars (one ebony), whose fighting leads to love and, not long after, two babies (one resembling each parent).
Blitz on Britain
Featuring archival footage from both German and UK sources, this documentary examines the defense of Britain during the early years of World War II.
Stone Into Steel
Describes the activities of the Appleby-Frodingham Steel Company in Scunthorpe, the largest unit in the United Steel group.
When Comedy Was King
A compilation featuring comedic stars of the silent era including Fatty Arbuckle, Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Charley Chase, and Laurel and Hardy.
Harvest of Shame (Edward R. Murrow)
In this CBS News production broadcast on Thanksgiving 1960, Edward R. Murrow points out the plight of migrant farm workers in America. Topics range from the harsh living conditions, endless travel, low wages, and poor opportunities for their children.
A documentary about the kamikaze, the brave pilots who gave their lives for their beloved country.
Nominated for an Academy Award, this live-action short film playfully chronicles the construction of the Tishman Building at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City.
The Horse with the Flying Tail
A palimino cow pony, through a series of owners and adventures becomes a champion mount for one of the US equestrian team.
After the US forces Cuba out of the OAS, demonstrations erupt in Venezuela. In Cuba Castro addresses a rally of one million people.
A House in Bayswater
A personal and nostalgic film about an apartment building in Bayswater, where Russell once lived, and about the residents who inhabited it. The building is demolished to make way for an unattractive and bland office.
Gala Day at Disneyland
The gala dedication ceremonies at the opening of three new major attractions at Disneyland—Matterhorn Bobsleds, Submarine Voyage, and the new Monorail—include a parade down Main Street with appearances by Walt and Roy Disney and members of their families, along with Vice President Richard Nixon and family, and numerous film stars. The celebrations end at night with a fireworks display.
Shelagh Delaney's Salford
Short documentary about Shelagh Delaney and her hometown Salford.
This Oscar-nominated film shows Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. near its 100th year as the only school of higher learning for the deaf and extreme hard of hearing.
Booked for Safekeeping
A training film showing police officers how to deal with persons who are mentally ill.
The Golden Years
Innovations in the bowling world are featured in this 1960 promotional film produced by American bowling equipment manufacturer Brunswick.
In Asamblea general (1960), the documentary about Fidel's address of the First Declaration of Havana in the Plaza of the Revolution, Alea practises what becomes a sustaining Cuban contribution to documentary. Engaging with Free Cinema and cinema-vérité, his camera seems to touch the faces of the new citizen one by one rather than as a single mass before a leader.
Hello London is a 1958 documentary film starring Sonja Henie and Michael Wilding.
Hedda Hopper's Hollywood
A look at the past, present and future of Hollywood as seen through the eyes of the movie columnist.
Circle of the Sun
A young man of the Kainai Nation (Blood tribe) shows us contemporary life of people as he attends a Sun Dance ceremony with the tribe.
Brown takes us to various surfing locales with his customary great photography, wry comments and solid musical score.
Rebel in Paradise
Rebel in Paradise is a 1960 American documentary film on the artist Paul Gauguin produced by Robert D. Fraser, a San Francisco real estate developer. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
They Take the High Road
The work of a team of men who tackle a special British Road Services job in the treacherous terrain of the Scottish Highlands.
Way Stations in Space
This educational film explains how Earth-orbiting space platforms and lunar bases ("way stations") will serve a key role in the exploration of our solar system.
An Introduction to Feedback
The short film uses a variety of familiar examples that have the feedback principle in common to present a broad view of the phenomena present in control mechanisms and social situations.
Documentary on the bull fights in Salamanca that commemorate the ending of the payment of tribute to the Duke of Alba in 1852.
This short featuring "Mr. Bungle", a puppet, instructs children on how to best behave in a lunchroom situation.
Documentary following the 1955–1956 Norwegian Archaeological Expedition's investigations of Polynesian history and culture at Easter Island.
A Sport Is Born
A Sport Is Born is a 1960 documentary short directed by Richard Winik. It discusses the development of the sport of parachuting at the airport in Orange, Mass. Includes views of the pupils who are being instructed, pointing out the fundamentals of parachuting, and shows jumps being made by students, instructors, and outstanding jumpers. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film.
A Letter for Wales
Donald Houston plays a Welshman who tells the story of what it's like to live in small town Wales and how the train service helps.
Look at Life: Shopping by the Ton
A visit to Smithfield Market, Covent Garden and Billingsgate, at their busiest time, the early morning.
The Corvair in Action!
A promotional film for the Chevrolet Corvair.
Music of Williamsburg
Describes the music of the Virginia Colony and its capital, Williamsburg, in 1768, with examples to show the scope and variety of the music. Filmed against the restoration of 18th century Williamsburg, showing a day in the life of its inhabitants.
Gorgeous colour film of Burma / Myanmar from 1960 showing major cities, towns and landmarks of the country. Places shown include Rangoon (now Yangon) - the port (shipping) and Shwe Dagon Pagoda (architecture, monks and worshippers). Pagan (now Bagan) – the ancient pagodas, including the Ananda. The former royal city of Mandalay and its palace. Amarapura - local industry including silk weaving and Bhamo – daily life, views, architecture.
Holiday for Champions
A short sports documentary exploring a resort with many sports champions in attendance.
Beef Rings the Bell
The sory of the railroad's roll in getting beef to your local market
The Living North
This film makes a general survey of the Northern Territory of Australia and indicates its potential in regard to many already established industries. These include agriculture, mining, fisheries, cattle raising, pearling and the like. The Territory is still a land of many challenging problems; its greatest limiting factor being the lack of water. In recent years transportation has been improved and education approached with vision and imagination. Housing is also being developed. Two thirds of the Territory’s work force is in Government employ.
Making Window Pictures
In the Brisbane Creative Leisure Centre, conducted by the Cantrills, children are shown reproductions of stained glass windows and then make large transparent pictures with black paper, coloured cellophane, and other materials such as discarded x-ray pictures and textured fabric, with a minimum of instruction. These are taken indoors and fastened to window panes.
Trevor White shows the birth of the one of the UK's largest heritage railways - now a significant feature of the region's leisure industry. We see various personalities associated with the line's formation as well as many of the volunteers, whose efforts to restore the railway's derelict infrastructure back to a fully operational line are rewarded with the inaugural train, hauled by Brighton Terrier 'Stepney', which ran on the 17th May 1960.
High Speed Flight
A BAFTA award nominated abridged documentary depicting the issues facing engineers delivering high speed flight. It was initially made in three parts in 1957.
Taiwan: The Face of Free China
A documentary produced by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that covers the history, land reform, industry, religion, educational system, and urban activities of Taiwan.
This Our India
This cartoon film presents in a nutshell, with the help of animated maps and diagrams, some geographical and economic facts about India. It shows how the people of India under the Five Year Plan Projects are striving to achieve a fuller and better life for all.
Frames of Reference
An educational physics film utilizing a fascinating set consisting of a rotating table and furniture occupying surprisingly unpredictable spots within the viewing area, Leacock’s Frames of Reference (1960), features fine cinematography by Abraham Morochnik, and funny narration by University of Toronto professors Donald Ivey and Patterson Hume, in a wonderful example of the fun a creative team of filmmakers can have with a subject other, less imaginative types might find pedestrian.
Exploring four of the world's major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity.