Best Documentary Movies of 1966
The War Game
A docudrama depicting a hypothetical nuclear attack on Britain. After backing the film's development, the BBC refused to air it, publicly stating "the effect of the film has been judged by the BBC to be too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting." It debuted in theaters in 1966 and went on to great acclaim, but remained unseen on British television until 1985.
The Endless Summer
Bruce Brown's The Endless Summer is one of the first and most influential surf movies of all time. The film documents American surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August as they travel the world during California’s winter (which, back in 1965 was off-season for surfing) in search of the perfect wave and ultimately, an endless summer.
Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music Part II
The second annual TV special thrills from start to finish, with unforgettable performances of signature songs "Fly Me To The Moon," "Luck Be A Lady" and "That's Life." Frank is joined by daughter Nancy in a playful duet in this delightful hour of music.
This entertaining documentary of the World Cup Soccer tournament of 1966 follows the 15 countries competing for the sport's most coveted prize. Nigel Patrick narrates, with commentary provided by Brian Glanville. The executive producer spent $336,000 on the production and used 117 cameras to record nearly 48 hours worth of action. Four editors were employed to created the final 108-minute feature.
Paddle to the Sea
A boy's carved boat travels through the Canadian wilderness until it reaches the ocean.
Screen Test: Lou Reed (Coke)
Andy directs Lou Reed drinking a Coke.
Down Friday Street
Experimental documentary by Tobe Hooper and collaborators.
Meet Marlon Brando
Journalists from all over America meet Marlon Brando in a New York hotel room to interview him about his new film, Morituri. Seeing this as an opportunity to let the legendary actor promote the film, they find Brando unwilling to talk about it, instead he is more interested in larking about and turning on the charm when being interviewed by a former winner of the Miss USA competition.
Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World
The outrageous life of the American dancer of the 1920s, Isadora Duncan, whom Ken Russell described as "part genius and part charlatan".
Instructional film about the (former) biggest harbour in the world, with a hybrid format. Well known Ivens themes are revisited, like The Flying Dutchman in the fiction part of the film, who returns to the modern day Rotterdam, that has recovered very well after the devastating bombardments in the second world war.
'2001: A Space Odyssey' – A Look Behind the Future
A short documentary about the making of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and its impact on the '60s view of the future.
Cinerama's Russian Adventure
Following an introduction by Bing Crosby, the Cinerama screen widens for scenes of landscapes, cities, peoples, and entertainments of the Soviet Union. Highlights include the historic buildings and churches of Moscow, as the Kremlin; its subway and streets, a spring carnival, the seaside resorts on the Black Sea, a trip down the Voga River, skiers, a troika racing along a snow-covered road, a helicopter view of the North Pole, an Antarctic whale hunt, the capture of a wild boar in the Moyun-Kum of Central Asia, a race by reindeer-drawn sleds, divers in the Sea of Okhotsk, battling an octopus, the capture of antelopes, rafting logs down the Tisza River, and the development of new towns in Siberia. Other scenes include a visit to the Moscow Circus, where the renowned clown Oleg Popov performs, the dancing of the Moiseyev and Piatnitsky companies, and excerpts from the repertoire of the Bolshoi Theater Ballet.
With Love from Truman
At his Long Island beach house, and on the occasion of the publication of his masterful nonfiction novel In Cold Blood, reporter Karen Dennison interviews celebrated writer Truman Capote, who displays his exuberant personality, makes witty jokes, shares his thoughts on writing, reflects on various aspects of the book and, in a sweet and endearing voice, reads and explains some of its highlights.
A view from a helicopter of the ten Canadian provinces in 1966. The result is a big, beautiful and engrossing bird's-eye portrait of the country. Nothing here is quite the same as seen before, even Niagara Falls. Canadians will be thrilled by this panoramic view of familiar territory. Made for international distribution for the Canadian centennial.
Disneyland Around the Seasons
Walt takes viewers on yet another tour of Disneyland to point out some of the newest additions to the park, including New Orleans Square, It's a Small World, and Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln.
The Legend of Marilyn Monroe
The Legend of Marilyn Monroe is a 1966 American documentary film chronicling the life and career of actress Marilyn Monroe. Directed by Terry Sanders, and narrated by John Huston.
Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin
The rise of National Socialism in Germany and Hitler’s anti-semitic policies and advocation of the superiority of the Aryan race resulted in several calls for a boycott of the games. Against this political backdrop, Jesse Owens’ haul of four gold medals is all the more significant. For a black athlete to demonstrate clearly his superior athleticism and so convincingly outperform his white counterparts was a massive slap in the face for Hitler and made a mockery of his racist theories during his Nazi showpiece games. Standing in the box at the Olympiastadion where Hitler sat to watch the games, Jesse Owens tells with pride that the flag of the US team was the only one not to be dipped as the athletes passed the Führer. (andberlin.com)
The Velvet Underground and Nico: A Symphony of Sound
The film depicts a rehearsal of The Velvet Underground including Nico, and is essentially one long loose improvisation.
Report from Millbrook
An oblique documentary about the LSD group experiments of Timothy Leary, with off screen commentary of a participant and shots of Leary's house and the surroundings.
The Magic Sun
Multi-faceted artist Phil Niblock captures a brief moment of an interstellar communication by the Arkestra in their prime. Black turns white in a so-called negative post-process, while Niblock's camera focuses on microscopic details of hands, bodies and instruments. A brilliant tribute to the Sun King by another brilliant supra-planetary sovereign. (Eye of Sound)
Fast-moving impressions of the Big Sur, the water, the ocean, and the Ladies, as part of the landscape, swimming, or running nude, against the sun or part of the sun.
The 1966 visit of Hollywood movie star Kirk Douglas at the legendary Polish State Film School in Lódz.
Travelling for a Living
Follows the life of Hull folk group The Watersons, which is made up of brothers and sisters Michael Waterson, Norma Waterson, Elaine Waterson (more commonly known as Lal Waterson), and their cousin John Harrison, as they spend a large amount of their time on the road in their van travelling between one folk club and the next.
"I was visiting Jerome Hill. Jerome loved France, especially Provence. He spent all his summers in Cassis. My window overlooked the sea. I sat in my little room, reading or writing, and looked at the sea. I decided to place my Bolex exactly at the angle of light as what Signac saw from his studio which was just behind where I was staying, and film the view from morning till after sunset, frame by frame. One day of the Cassis port filmed in one shot." -JM
The Urban Crisis and the New Militants: Module 7 - Cicero March
For a generation of young activists, the reality of war, imperialism, racism and the growing fragility of democratic liberalism was too much to handle. Force became a means to wrestle with this tension. As the discourse of a “country torn” finds its way into mainstream political analyses (for many the deep divisions in this country are not a new political reality), we should reflect on the writings of political dissidents and radicals. We should recognize the diversity of political analysis that is very much alive. The histories of armed struggle, if taken seriously, provide us with a means to think more critically about the center, and complicate its claims of moral and political right.
Orson Welles in Spain
Orson Welles pitches to potential investors his vision of a largely improvised bullfighter movie about an existential, James Dean type troubadour who sets himself apart from other matadors. In front of an audience of wealthy arts patrons, Welles pontificates on the state of cinema, the filmmaking process, and the art of bullfighting.
Mondo Topless is a 1966 pseudo documentary directed by Russ Meyer, featuring Babette Bardot and Lorna Maitland among others.
A Year Towards Tomorrow
Documentary about the VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program.
All Eyes on Sharon Tate
Promotional short film on an aspiring young actress Sharon Tate and her first film Eye of the Devil (1966).
A faux travelogue that mixes documentary and mockumentary footage. The camera looks through a one-way glass into the women's dressing room at a lingerie shop, visits a Kyoto massage parlor, goes inside the mailroom at Frederick's of Hollywood, watches an Australian who sticks nails through his skin and eats glass, checks out the art and peace scene in Los Angeles, takes in Easter week with vacationing college students on Balboa Island, observes a German audience enjoying a play about Nazi sadism, and, with the help of powerful military lenses, spies on a Lebanese white-slavery auction.
George Lucas's senior project at the University of Southern California in 1966. It was named for the lap time of the Lotus 23 race car that was the subject of the film. It is a nonstory visual tone poem depicting the imagery of a car going at full speed, and featuring the car's engine as the primary sound element. Shot on 16mm color film with a 14 man student crew, it was filmed at Willow Springs Raceway, north of Los Angeles, CA. The Lotus 23 was driven by Pete Brock.
The Four Elements
An educational film about power sources that’s rendered as a lyrical meditation on heat and vapor, The Four Elements is a poetic and avant-garde documentary Curtis Harrington made for the United States Information Agency.
Good Times, Wonderful Times
Lionel Rogosin's plea for humanity and against war and fascism. For two years, Rogosin traveled to twelve countries to collect footage of war atrocities from their archives. He interspersed these harrowing images with scenes of a London cocktail party's mundane chatter. Good Times, Wonderful Times was released in 1964 at the height of the Vietnam War, and became one of the great anti-war films of the era.
Look at Life: Eating High
An examination of the 60's trend of top-of-skyscraper revolving restaurants. First an overview of Europe's best then it's a detailed look at the problems involved in running the restaurant at the top of London's Post Office Tower.
Old Antelope Lake
A Navajo short film which documents a boy drawing and using water from Old Antelope Lake.
Every Girl's Dream
Nancy Bernard, the 1966 Maid of Cotton, is shown walking through various sets and sound stages at the MGM Studios. Her various cotton outfits are described by the narrator. She also attends the "screen test" of the costumes designed by Ray Aghayan for The Glass Bottom Boat (1966). The clothing is modeled by the film's stars, Doris Day and Rod Taylor.
Ages of Man
Performance of extracts from The Ages of Man is a one-man show performed by John Gielgud featuring a collection of speeches in Shakespeare's plays. When the genius of Shakespeare is wedded to the unsurpassed skills of one of the finest actors of this, or any other, age, something extraordinary happens.
A documentary record of the day-to-day existence of a pair of young married heroin addicts.
The World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau
This unusual film, narrated by Orson Welles, records the day-by-day events in the lives of six oceanauts who, in an unique experiment, spent 27 days 328 feet below the surface of the Mediterranean. The experiment originated with the French scientist and explorer, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, on whose work the idea of oceanic exploration is based. The film shows the preparation and training needed for the expedition and the working conditions both inside and outside Conshelf Three, a specially made steel bubble which served as home and laboratory.
A “hidden camera” takes the viewer on a worldwide tour of sexual practices and rituals, including Tijuana strippers, Asian sex shows, British prostitutes, New York devil worshipers and a Mexican slave market.
In March and April of 1966, Markopoulos created this filmic portrait of writers and artists from his New York circle, including Parker Tyler, W. H. Auden, Jasper Johns, Susan Sontag, Storm De Hirsch, Jonas Mekas, Allen Ginsberg, and George and Mike Kuchar, most observed in their homes or studios. Filmed in vibrant color, Galaxie pulses with life. It is a masterpiece of in-camera composition and editing, and stands as a vibrant response to Andy Warhol's contemporary Screen Tests.
The Universal Mind of Bill Evans
Jazz Pianist on the Creative Process & Self-Teaching. Here is the late, brilliantly original jazz pianist in intense conversation with his composer brother, Harry, on the nature of creativity in jazz. Occasionally, they stroll to the piano for a musical illustration (Evans play splendidly).
The Story of Making the Film They're a Weird Mob
A documentary about the making of the film "They're a Weird Mob", a movie about an Italian adjusting to life in Australia.
The Big T.N.T. Show
Live performances by some of the top rock-and-roll acts of the mid 60s. Includes Ray Charles, The Byrds, Joan Baez, Ike and Tina Turner, Donovan, The Lovin' Spoonful, and several more.
The Really Big Family
The Really Big Family is a 1966 American documentary film directed by Alexander Grasshoff about the Dukes family of Seattle, who had 18 children. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
This documentary is an informal portrait of the great modern composer Igor Stravinsky. Proudly American, though still very much an Old World figure with a long and alert memory for people and events in music, literature and art, Stravinsky is depicted here conducting the CBC Symphony Orchestra in a recording of his Symphony of Psalms.
The Velvet Underground Tarot Cards
Documents each member of The Velvet Underground having their cards read at a big apartment party. The tarot reader is continually interrupted in her readings by the chaos created by the characters around her.
Body and Soul
Short film, shot in twenty hours, about a bodybuilder who is stunned to discover he no longer has his body under control. He wonders whether all the attention he has paid to his physical appearance was worth it.
This documentary explores assorted "forbidden" topics from all over the world. Among the subjects depicted herein are a racy TV commercial for a female martial arts school, rowdy teenagers protesting a strict curfew on the Sunset Strip, an underground lesbian club in Geneva, a portable topless bar, and various strip acts from different parts of the globe.
Collected as part of the Fluxfilm Anthology (a multi-reel compendium of 37 short films assembled by Fluxus founder and central operator George Maciunas), One captures the lifespan of a single match recorded at 2,000 frames per second using a 16mm high-speed camera. The frame rate is then decelerated to the standard 24fps for presentation. The film emphasizes each gesture, sway and flare of flame as the small pinewood carrier ignites across the landscape of the filmstrip and screen, signalling the drama and poetics of this ”minor” event before the fire is extinguished. One also stands as an unassuming beacon, immortalizing on film the essence of some of Ono’s early concerns as an artist. At the slightest touch of fire, they burst into flame. Strike everywhere. Strike often.