Best Documentary Movies of 1972

1.

Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii

4.5
8.7/10
Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii
Stylish film of the British progressive rock band Pink Floyd in 1971 performing a concert with no audience, in the ancient Roman Amphitheatre in the ruins of Pompeii, Italy. Songs are interspersed with interviews, and footage of Pink Floyd in the studio working on their next album, the legendary Dark Side of the Moon.
Starring: Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason
Directed by: Adrian Maben
Release date: 1972-08-31
2.

The Concert for Bangladesh

4.2
8.2/10
The Concert for Bangladesh
A film about the first benefit rock concert when major musicians performed to raise relief funds for the poor of Bangladesh.
Starring: George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Ravi Shankar, Bob Dylan
Directed by: Saul Swimmer
Release date: 1972-03-23
3.

Marjoe

4.1
7.6/10
Marjoe
Part documentary, part expose, this film follows one-time child evangelist Marjoe Gortner on the "church tent" Revivalist circuit, commenting on the showmanship of Evangelism and "the religion business", prior to the start of "televangelism".
Starring: Marjoe Gortner, Sarah Kernochan
Directed by: Howard Smith, Sarah Kernochan
Release date: 1972-07-24
4.

Elvis on Tour

3.9
7.5/10

Concert footage and offstage documentary of singer Elvis Presley.

Starring: Elvis Presley, James Burton, John Wilkinson, Jerry Scheff, Glen D. Hardin
Directed by: Pierre Adidge, Robert Abel
Release date: 1972-01-01
5.

Cousin Jules

3.7
7.6/10

5 years in the life of a rural French farmer.

Directed by: Dominique Benicheti
Release date: 1972-05-01
6.

Malcolm X

3.3
7.5/10
Malcolm X
James Earl Jones narrates this fascinating and moving documentary about the life of the assassinated black leader through various sources.
Starring: James Earl Jones, Ossie Davis, Mister Walsh
Directed by: Arnold Perl
Release date: 1972-05-24
7.

Chung Kuo: China

3.1
7.6/10
Chung Kuo: China
A documentary on China, concentrating mainly on the faces of the people, filmed in the areas they were allowed to visit. The 220 minute version consists of three parts. The first part, taken around Beijing, includes a cotton factory, older sections of the city, and a clinic where a Cesarean operation is performed, using acupuncture. The middle part visits the Red Flag canal and a collective farm in Henan, as well as the old city of Suzhou. The final part shows the port and industries of Shanghai, and ends with a stage presentation by Chinese acrobats.
Starring: Giuseppe Rinaldi
Directed by: Michelangelo Antonioni
Release date: 1972-12-26
8.

Letter to Jane: An Investigation About a Still

2.9
5.9/10
Letter to Jane: An Investigation About a Still
The film's subject is a photograph of Jane Fonda visiting Hanoi during the Vietnam War. It asks what the position of the intellectual should be in the class struggle and points out the irony of Jane Fonda's participation in the photo shoot, which was staged.
Starring: Jane Fonda
Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin, Groupe Dziga Vertov
Release date: 1972-10-10
9.

Essene

2.9
7.1/10
Essene
Essene is about daily life in a Benedictine monastery and the resolution of conflict between personal needs and the institutional and organizational priorities of the community. In the Order, where the focus of life is the relationship of individual work and worship to the community as a whole, the brethren must cope with the same issues that arise in any community: rules, work, worship, values, love, and play.
Directed by: Frederick Wiseman
Release date: 1972-11-13
10.

Going Home

2.8
8.1/10
Going Home
A home movie by Adolfas Mekas and wife Pola Chapelle on their travels to Lithuania and Europe. It was filmed concurrently with the more highly regarded “Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania” by Jonas Mekas, brother to Adolfas.
Starring: Pola Chapelle, Adolfas Mekas, Jonas Mekas
Directed by: Adolfas Mekas
Release date: 1972-10-04
11.

The Inner Eye

2.8
7.9/10
The Inner Eye
At the age of 54, Binode Bihari Mukherjee, an accomplished painter, lost his sight following an unsuccessful cataract operation. He continued to create art despite his loss of sight. The documentary explores Binode Bihari’s inner eye that guides his fingers to create art.
Starring: Binode Bihari Mukherjee, Satyajit Ray
Directed by: Satyajit Ray
Release date: 1972-01-01
12.

A Computer Animated Hand

2.8
6.1/10
A Computer Animated Hand
Archive film showing possibly the first example of digital rendering, made by Pixar co-founders Ed Catmull and Fred Parke in 1972, was stumbled upon by the son of Robert B Ingebretsen, who also set up the world-famous U.S. studio. A six minute version shows additional CGI animation of an artificial heart valve, and human heads.
Directed by: Ed Catmull
Release date: 1972-12-31
13.

Journey Through the Past

2.8
6.3/10
Journey Through the Past
Journey Through the Past is a 1972 film by Neil Young. Originally shot in 16mm format and then transferred for theatrical release the experimental film is a self-directed combination of concert footage from 1966 onward, backstage footage and semi-fantastic art film-like sequences. Although Journey Through the Past was Young's film debut it was received poorly by critics. The film was released on DVD in 2009 with the Neil Young Archives.
Starring: David Crosby, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Neil Young
Directed by: Neil Young
Release date: 1972-11-07
14.

Glastonbury Fayre

2.7
6.5/10
Glastonbury Fayre
In the Summer of 1971 the Glastonbury legend was born when the organisers decided to try and create a festival that would be a forerunner for an 'alternative and utopian society'. The festival encompassed Midsummer's Day, and in true medieval tradition, the area of Worthy Farm, Pilton was given over to music, dance, poetry, theatre, spontaneous entertainment and nudity.
Starring: Fairport Convention, Tonto's Expanding Head Band, Arthur Brown, Magic Michael, Linda Lewis
Directed by: Nicolas Roeg, Peter Neal
Release date: 1972-05-01
15.

The Rolling Stones: Cocksucker Blues

2.7
6.4/10
The Rolling Stones: Cocksucker Blues
This fly-on-the-wall documentary follows the Rolling Stones on their 1972 North American Tour, their first return to the States since the tragedy at Altamont.
Starring: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor
Directed by: Robert Frank
Release date: 1972-01-01
16.

1 P.M.

2.7
6.1/10
1 P.M.
Lighter and livelier than the films Jean-Luc Godard had made in France, his U.S. collaboration with Direct Cinema documentarian D. A. Pennebaker was meant to be One A.M., as in “one American movie”; but Godard quit the project and the U.S., where to his dismay he discovered that revolution wasn’t imminent, and Pennebaker edited Godard’s material, to which he and Richard Leacock even added a bit more, releasing the result as One P.M., as in “one parallel movie.” It’s a stunning mixture of cinéma-vérité, political theater, and interviews of key sixties figures.
Starring: Rip Torn, Tom Hayden, Eldridge Cleaver, Amiri Baraka, Tom Luddy
Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard, D.A. Pennebaker, Richard Leacock
Release date: 1972-02-10
17.

FTA

2.7
6.4/10
FTA
A documentary about a political troupe headed by actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland which traveled to towns near military bases in the US in the early 1970s. The group put on shows called "F.T.A.", which stood for "F**k the Army", and was aimed at convincing soldiers to voice their opposition to the Vietnam War, which was raging at the time. Various singers, actors and other entertainers performed antiwar songs and skits during the show.
Starring: Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Pamela Donegan, Len Chandler, Michael Alaimo
Directed by: Francine Parker
Release date: 1972-07-21
18.

Just Another Job

2.6
6.2/10
Just Another Job
This short film takes you behind the scenes of the Quebec Nordiques. Coached by the legendary Maurice Richard, the team is playing its opening World Hockey Association game at the Quebec Coliseum. Experience the pre-game tension, the on-ice action and the dream-contract signing.
Directed by: Pierre Letarte
Release date: 1972-01-01
19.

Hollywood: The Dream Factory

2.5
6.3/10
MGM Studios, which was formed the result of a merger between Metro Pictures (owned by the Loews Company) and the Goldwyn Company, was the premier Hollywood movie studio from the mid 1920's to the end of the 1950's, when a court ruling dissolved the close association between movie studios and movie theaters leading to the end of the studio system that controlled what happened in Hollywood, and when television became a rival form of accessible entertainment. Led by Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg but not with obstacles, MGM was the best of the studios at perpetuating the dream that anything was possible, both in front of the cameras and in the lives of Hollywood royalty, namely the movie stars. Within a generation, movies became the largest money making form of entertainment. The public went to see movies in droves even during the depression, wanted to learn about and be close to the personal lives of the Hollywood rich and famous, and aspired to be part of that Hollywood royalty.
Starring: Dick Cavett
Release date: 1972-01-01
20.

Art Is...

1.9
8.3/10
"What is art?" The film offers some new answers to the age old question.
Directed by: Julian Krainin, DeWitt Sage
Release date: 1972-11-01

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