Best Documentary Movies of 1974


Hearts and Minds

8.2/10 IMDB

Many times during his presidency, Lyndon B. Johnson said that ultimate victory in the Vietnam War depended upon the U.S. military winning the "hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese people. Filmmaker Peter Davis uses Johnson's phrase in an ironic context in this anti-war documentary, filmed and released while the Vietnam War was still under way, juxtaposing interviews with military figures like U.S. Army Chief of Staff William C. Westmoreland with shocking scenes of violence and brutality.

Starring: Georges Bidault, Clark Clifford, George Coker, John Foster Dulles, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, Walt Rostow ..
Directed by: Peter Davis
Release date: 1974-10-17

Animals Are Beautiful People

8.2/10 IMDB

Animals Are Beautiful People (aka Beautiful People) is a 1974 nature documentary about the wildlife in Southern Africa. It was filmed in the Namib Desert, the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango River and Okavango Delta. It was produced for cinema and has a length of slightly more than 90 minutes.

Starring: Paddy O'Byrne ..
Directed by: Jamie Uys
Release date: 1974-11-14

That's Entertainment!

7.8/10 IMDB

Various MGM stars from yesterday present their favorite musical moments from the studio's 50 year history.

Starring: Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, Peter Lawford, Liza Minnelli, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, James Stewart ..
Directed by: Jack Haley Jr.
Release date: 1974-06-21
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Italianamerican


7.6/10 IMDB

Filmmaker Martin Scorsese interviews his mother and father about their life in New York and family history back in Sicily.

Starring: Catherine Scorsese, Charles Scorsese, Martin Scorsese ..
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Release date: 1974-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Rory Gallagher: Irish Tour ’74

Rory Gallagher: Irish Tour ’74

8.5/10 IMDB

Irish Tour '74 is a film which captures the artist, his music, the period and the place with perfection. Filmed in January 1974 at Belfast Ulster Hall, Dublin Carlton Cinema and Cork City Hall.

Starring: Rory Gallagher, Gerry McAvoy, Lou Martin, Rod de'Ath ..
Directed by: Tony Palmer
Release date: 1974-10-25

The Horror Hall of Fame: A Monster Salute

7.1/10 IMDB

In this made-for-TV production, Vincent Price and his hunchback sidekick (Billy Van) host a pun-filled salute to the horror film genre from its earliest beginnings all the way up to The Exorcist. Featuring clips from classic horror films and interviews with genre greats like Frank Gorshin, John Carradine, John Astin and SFX legend Bill Tuttle, among others.

Starring: Vincent Price, Billy Van, Ivor Barry, John Carradine, Frank Gorshin, Raymond McNally, Candy Clark, William Tuttle, John Astin, Boris Karloff ..
Directed by: Charles Braverman
Release date: 1974-02-20
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Jerry's


8.0/10 IMDB

JERRY'S DELI is a testament to a bygone era when shrieking lunatics could run successful (even popular) businesses. Shot on film-stock leftover from television cameramen, Tom Palazzolo's portrait of Jerry Meyer offsets sequences of the tyrannical deli owner (seen berating his employees and physically dragging customers to the counter) with personal interviews in which a soft-spoken Meyer calmly describes his decorated military service in World War II, his early stand on civil rights and this one time when he stabbed an employee in the arm. - Tom Fritsche

Directed by: Tom Palazzolo
Release date: 1974-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Frank Sinatra: The Main Event

Frank Sinatra: The Main Event

8.0/10 IMDB

Charged with the electricity of a heavyweight prizefight, The Main Event was filmed live at Madison Square Garden, a venue usually reserved for sporting events and rock 'n' roll concerts.

Starring: Frank Sinatra, Howard Cosell ..
Directed by: Bill Carruthers
Release date: 1974-10-13
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Janis


7.7/10 IMDB

Released just a few years after her death, this forms a picture of who Janis was through interviews and performance clips.

Starring: Janis Joplin, Richard Bell, Sam Andrew, John Simon, Dick Cavett ..
Directed by: Howard Alk
Release date: 1974-10-18
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : One Hand Clapping

One Hand Clapping

8.1/10 IMDB

A rarely seen "rockumentary" made by Paul McCartney and his then band, Wings, at Abbey Road studios in London, in August 1974. The film features the band playing live and also voice overs with each member talking about their musical experiences up to that point. Songs featured include Maybe I'm Amazed, Jet and Live and Let Die.

Starring: Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Geoff Britton, Denny Laine, Jimmy McCulloch ..
Directed by: David Litchfield
Release date: 1974-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Attica


8.0/10 IMDB

In 1971, inmates at Attica State Prison seized control of D-yard and took 35 hostages after peaceful efforts for reforms failed. Attica investigates the rebellion and its bloody suppression, revealing institutionalized injustices, sanctioned dishonesty, and abuses of power.

Directed by: Cinda Firestone
Release date: 1974-04-05
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Propaganda Message

Propaganda Message

7.1/10 IMDB

A cartoon film about the whole heterogeneous mixture of Canada and Canadians, and the way the invisible adhesive called federalism makes it all cling together. That the dissenting voices are many is made amply evident, in English and French. But this animated message also shows that Canadians can laugh at themselves and work out their problems objectively.

Directed by: Barrie Nelson
Release date: 1974-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Cree Hunters of Mistassini

Cree Hunters of Mistassini

7.9/10 IMDB

An NFB crew filmed a group of three families, Cree hunters from Mistassini. Since times predating agriculture, this First Nations people have gone to the bush of the James Bay and Ungava Bay area to hunt. We see the building of the winter camp, the hunting and the rhythms of Cree family life.

Directed by: Tony Ianzelo, Boyce Richardson
Release date: 1974-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Linda's Film on Menstruation

Linda's Film on Menstruation

6.6/10 IMDB

This is an educational short released by the Los Angeles Public Library explaining what to expect when you get your first period.

Starring: Jonathan Banks, Mady Kaplan ..
Directed by: Linda Feferman
Release date: 1974-01-01

A Poem Is a Naked Person

7.0/10 IMDB

Les Blank's first feature-length documentary captures music and other events at Leon Russell's Oklahoma recording studio during a three-year period (1972-1974).

Starring: Leon Russell, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Malissa Bates, David Briggs, Eric Andersen, Ambrose Campbell, Charlie McCoy, Chuck Blackwell, Les Blank ..
Directed by: Les Blank
Release date: 1974-05-09
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : The World of Buckminster Fuller

The World of Buckminster Fuller

7.6/10 IMDB

Architect, engineer, geometrician, cartographer, philosopher, futurist, inventor of the famous geodesic dome and one of the most brilliant thinkers of his time. Fuller was renowned for his comprehensive perspective on the world's problems. For more than five decades he developed pioneering solutions reflecting his commitment to the potential of innovative design to create technology that does "more with less" and thereby improve human lives. He spent much of his life traveling the world lecturing and discussing his ideas with thousands of audiences. Now more relevant than ever, this film captures Fuller's ideas and thinking told in his own words.

Starring: Buckminster Fuller, Indira Gandhi ..
Directed by: Robert Snyder, Baylis Glascock
Release date: 1974-06-21

Rivers of Sand

7.4/10 IMDB

The people portrayed in this film are called Hamar. They dwell in the thorny scrubland of southwestern Ethiopia, about one hundred miles north of Lake Rudolph, Africa's great inland sea. They are isolated by some distant choice that now limits their movement and defines their condition. At least until recently, it has resulted in their retaining a highly traditional way of life. Hamar women eagerly accept their ritual whipping when boys come of age. Part of that tradition was the open, even flamboyant, observance of male supremacy. In their isolation, they seemed to have refined this not uncommon principle of social organization into a remarkably pure state. Hamar men are masters and their women are slaves. The film tries to disclose the effect on mood and behavior of lives governed by the idea of sexual inequality.

Directed by: Robert Gardner
Release date: 1974-10-30

Braverman's Condensed Cream of the Beatles

6.5/10 IMDB

Photos, animation, and music illustrate the story of the Beatles.

Starring: George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Ed Sullivan ..
Directed by: Gary Rocklen, Charles Braverman
Release date: 1974-10-03
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Searching


7.1/10 IMDB

Shocking fire safety 'filler' from the COI.

Directed by: John Krish
Release date: 1974-01-05
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Glenn Gould: The Alchemist

Glenn Gould: The Alchemist

7.6/10 IMDB

Filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon visits piano virtuoso Glenn Gould more than ten years after his self-imposed exile from the stage, which results in a mixture of interview and performance.

Starring: Glenn Gould, Bruno Monsaingeon ..
Directed by: François Ribadeau
Release date: 1974-01-01

Bird on a Wire

7.5/10 IMDB

Tony Palmer's film, thought lost for almost 40 years, about Leonard Cohen's 1972 European tour, has now been pieced together from almost 3,000 fragments and restored to its former glory. A unique record of a major poet and singer/songwriter at the height of his powers.

Starring: Leonard Cohen ..
Directed by: Tony Palmer
Release date: 1974-07-05
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Swastika


7.3/10 IMDB

Comprised of video shot during the Nazi regime, including propaganda, newsreels, broadcasts and even some of Eva Braun's colorized personal home movies, we explore the way in which the Third Reich infiltrated the lives of the German population, from 1933 to 1945.

Starring: Eva Braun, Galeazzo Ciano, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels ..
Directed by: Philippe Mora
Release date: 1974-01-17
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Christo's Valley Curtain

Christo's Valley Curtain

6.8/10 IMDB

Oscar nominated documentary about the largest man-made curtain in the world as "sculpture".

Starring: Christo, Jeanne-Claude ..
Directed by: Albert Maysles, Ellen Giffard, David Maysles
Release date: 1974-03-10
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Primate


7.3/10 IMDB

Primate sees realist documentarian Frederick Wiseman hone his lens on the inmates of the Yerkes Primate Research Centre. A representative scientist explains the aims and outcomes of the organisation, describing the mating habits and relationships of the animals.

Directed by: Frederick Wiseman
Release date: 1974-12-05
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Kung Fu Killers

Kung Fu Killers

6.6/10 IMDB

Australian stuntman Grant Page travels to Hong Kong to find Bruce Lee's successor and looks at the cultural phenomenon that Asian martial arts has become in the West. He talks to actors such as Angela Mao, Stuart Whitman and George Lazenby - who were all making movies in Hong Kong at the time - and fights Carter Wong twice.

Starring: Grant Page, Angela Mao Ying, George Lazenby, Stuart Whitman, Carter Wong, Lawrence Lee, June Rhee, Bruce Lee, André E. Morgan, Chuck Norris ..
Directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Release date: 1974-01-01

Behind the Rent Strike

7.5/10 IMDB

Kirby, on the outskirts of Liverpool, England, October 1972. A chronicle of the fourteen-month strike by thousands of tenants to protest against the £1 increase in council house rents due to the Housing Finance Act.

Starring: Nick Broomfield, Ethel Singleton ..
Directed by: Nick Broomfield
Release date: 1974-10-24
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Womanhouse


6.8/10 IMDB

Held in 1972 at 533 N. Mariposa Street, Los Angeles was one of the most important cultural events in the United States: "Womanhouse," a feminist art installation and performance space organized by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro.

Starring: Judy Chicago, Nika Elkins, Miriam Schapiro, Faith Wilding, Beth Bachenheimer, Sherry Brody, Susan Frazier, Camille Grey, Vicky Hodgett, Kathy Huberland ..
Directed by: Johanna Demetrakas
Release date: 1974-01-26
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Fire on Heimaey

Fire on Heimaey

8.2/10 IMDB

Beautiful documentary by Osvaldur Knudsen about the eruption on Heimaey in the Vestmann Islands in 1973 (South of Iceland). The eruption destroyed some 30% of the town's houses and lasted for more than 5 months. Nice narration like in the old days and some nice sound(track) by Magnus Bl. Johannsson.

Directed by: Ósvaldur Knudsen
Release date: 1974-07-10
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Naked Yoga

Naked Yoga

6.4/10 IMDB

Three young ladies perform yoga without clothes in the open air of Cyprus. Another does the same in a studio. These visuals are interspersed with images of Eastern art, processed for "psychedelic" effect. The narrator relates the practice of yoga to Buddhist philosophy.

Starring: Elizabeth Taylor-Mead, Leslie Bowman, Katherine Lewis, Beth McJohn, Alexis Korner ..
Directed by: Paul Corsden
Release date: 1974-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : The Challenge... A Tribute to Modern Art

The Challenge... A Tribute to Modern Art

7.0/10 IMDB

The Challenge... A Tribute to Modern Art is a 1974 American documentary film directed by Herbert Kline. The film shows footage of great modern artists in their studios creating and commenting on their work, with narration and commentary by Orson Welles. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Starring: Orson Welles ..
Directed by: Herbert Kline
Release date: 1974-12-05
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons

Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons

6.4/10 IMDB

Penthesilea, the first of six films made by Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen, traverses thousands of years to look at the image of the Amazonian woman in myth. It asks, among other questions, is the Amazonian woman a rare strong female image or is she a figure derived from male phantasy? The film explores the complexities of such questions, but does not seek any concrete answers.

Starring: Debra Dolnansky, Michael Thomas, Jan Creighton, Jim Goode, Lisa Kephart, Pat Kerwin, Whit MacLaughlin, Kristine Nielsen, Brian Reich, Jerry Stropnicky ..
Directed by: Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen
Release date: 1974-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Waiting for Fidel

Waiting for Fidel

6.9/10 IMDB

This feature-length documentary from 1974 takes viewers inside Fidel Castro's Cuba. A movie-making threesome hope that Fidel himself will star in their film. The unusual crew consists of former Newfoundland premier Joseph Smallwood, radio and TV owner Geoff Stirling and NFB film director Michael Rubbo. What happens while the crew awaits its star shows a good deal of the new Cuba, and also of the three Canadians who chose to film the island. (NFB)

Starring: Fidel Castro, Erich Honecker, Bernabe Ordez, Michael Rubbo, Joey Smallwood, Geoff Stirling, Fidel Castro, Erich Honecker, Bernabe Ordez, Michael Rubbo ..
Directed by: Michael Rubbo
Release date: 1974-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Princeton: A Search for Answers

Princeton: A Search for Answers

6.0/10 IMDB

Princeton: A Search for Answers is a 1973 American short documentary film, directed by Julian Krainin and DeWitt Sage, and produced for the Princeton University Undergraduate Admissions Office as a recruiting film. In 1974, it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 46th Academy Awards.

Directed by: DeWitt Sage, Julian Krainin
Release date: 1974-03-21
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Eureka


6.3/10 IMDB

Eureka (1974), which lyrically re-photographs a travelogue shot from a San Francisco streetcar, offers the purest expression of Gehr’s deep love of early cinema as a source of a joyous formal inventiveness-- changing its length from 5 to about 38 minutes.

Directed by: Ernie Gehr
Release date: 1974-01-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : The Text of Light

The Text of Light

6.1/10 IMDB

Time-lapse photography of books, paintings, reflections, and light falling on textures, shot entirely through a glass ashtray.

Directed by: Stan Brakhage
Release date: 1974-10-26
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Exploratorium


6.2/10 IMDB

An Oscar-nominated film with no narration showing the Exploratorium (The Palace of Arts and Science) in San Francisco. It shows many of the exhibits and the reaction of visitors to many of these. Preserved by the Academy Film Archive.

Directed by: Jon Boorstin
Release date: 1974-01-01


6.0/10 IMDB

"Touches on elemental images; air, water, (and snow), earth and fire (and smoke) all come into it." - MT

Directed by: Margaret Tait
Release date: 1974-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : O.J. Simpson: Juice on the Loose

O.J. Simpson: Juice on the Loose

6.4/10 IMDB

An independently produced sports documentary on the career of O.J. Simpson, (#32) the upcoming running back for the Buffalo Bills football team.

Starring: O.J. Simpson, Marvin Goux, John Mckay, Earl Edwards, Reggie McKenzie, Larry Felser, Howard Cosell, Dwight L. Chapin, Eunice Simpson, Shirley Baker ..
Directed by: George A. Romero
Release date: 1974-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : The Stars Are Beautiful

The Stars Are Beautiful

5.5/10 IMDB

We move back and forth between scenes of a family at home and thoughts about the stars and creation. Children hold chickens while an adult clips their wings; we see a forest; a narrator talks about stars and light and eternity. A dog joins the hens and the family, while the narrator explains the heavens. We see a bee up close. The narrator suggests metaphors for heavenly bodies. Scenes fade into a black screen or dim purple; close-ups of family life may be blurry. The words about the heavens, such as "The stars are a flock of hummingbirds," contrast with images and sounds of real children.

Starring: Jane Brakhage, Stan Brakhage, Myrrena Brakhage ..
Directed by: Stan Brakhage
Release date: 1974-11-19
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : The Haunted Mouth

The Haunted Mouth

6.2/10 IMDB

In a haunted house, the invisible spirit of plaque - which evidently has the ability to possess rocking chairs - warns children against the dangers of not brushing and flossing.

Starring: Cesar Romero ..
Release date: 1974-01-15

Vanishing Wilderness

5.9/10 IMDB

Documentary - Painstakingly filmed over a five-year period, this intimate view of our country's magnificent landscape will take you on the getaway you can only imagine. Witness the splendor of nature as you've never before seen it. - Arthur Dubs, Rex Allen

Directed by: Arthur R. Dubs, Heinz Sielmann
Release date: 1974-01-01

The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil

8.7/10 IMDB

The "ceilidh play", as writer John McGrath styled it, is presented in the BBC's 1974 "Play for Today" production to a live audience intercut with filmed reconstructions of the Highland Clearances and the Victorian obsession with hunting stags. Restored in high definition from the original film masters held in the BBC Archives.

Starring: John Bett, Dolina MacLennan, David Maclennan, Elizabeth MacLennan, Alex Norton, Bill Paterson, Allan Ross, John McGrath, Charles Kearney, James Cosmo ..
Directed by: John Mackenzie
Release date: 1974-06-06

Canadian Pacific I

5.6/10 IMDB

Canadian Pacific I is made up of a series of slowly dissolved shots done from the same framing over several months. The camera frames a window with a railway yard in the foreground, a bay in the space behind it, and misty mountains in the extreme distance. Trains occasionally pass by in the foreground. Huge ships move across the bay. Blue mists hover over the mountain heads.

Directed by: David Rimmer
Release date: 1974-07-06
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : A Steam Train Passes

A Steam Train Passes

8.6/10 IMDB

Generally regarded as Australia's finest railway film and winner of many awards the world over, A Steam Train Passes is a nostalgic, imaginative essay on one of the majestic but now retired C38 class steam locomotives.

Directed by: David Haythornwaite
Release date: 1974-01-10

Dreams and Nightmares

8.5/10 IMDB

A study of Spain during the years 1936-1973, focusing on the involvement of the United States in the affairs of that country.

Starring: Abe Osheroff, Sally Smaller ..
Directed by: Lawrence Klingman, Abe Osheroff
Release date: 1974-07-07

Omnibus - Cuckoo: A Celebration of Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy

8.2/10 IMDB

Narrated by Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, this documentary about "Laurel and Hardy", one of the most popular and critically acclaimed comedy double acts of the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema. It features interviews with Jerry Lewis, Dick Van Dyke, Babe London, Marcel Marceau, Lucille Hardy (Ollie's wife), Bob Monkhouse, Hal Roach, Marvin T Hatley, Jack McCabe and many more.

Starring: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Eric Morecambe, Ernie Wise, Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Lewis, Spike Milligan, Bob Monkhouse, Hal Roach, Marcel Marceau ..
Directed by: Robert Vas
Release date: 1974-12-21
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : The Burning Hell

The Burning Hell

3.5/10 IMDB

Pastor Estus W. Pirkle preaches about hell, where all non-Christians will suffer eternal torment. He's also visited by two self-professed “Christians” who don't believe in hell.

Starring: Estus W. Pirkle, Tim Ormond, Jimmy Robbins, Robert G. Lee, Jack Hyles, Bob Gray, Terence Hendricks, Don Green, Carl Lackey, Vaughn Denton ..
Directed by: Ron Ormond
Release date: 1974-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Anaïs Nin Observed

Anaïs Nin Observed

8.2/10 IMDB

In this documentary Anais Nin is shown at work, at home, and talking with and about her influences: D.H. Lawrence, Otto Rank, Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, Martha Graham, Noguchi, Kenneth Anger, Maya Daren, Edmund Wilson, Lou Andreas-Salome and others.

Starring: Anaïs Nin, Henry Miller, Martha Graham, Frances Steloff ..
Directed by: Robert Snyder
Release date: 1974-06-28
Best Documentary Movies of 1974 : Sing Sing Thanksgiving

Sing Sing Thanksgiving

8.3/10 IMDB

B.B. King, Joan Baez and other great artists gather for a show at Sing Sing Prison.

Starring: B.B. King, Joan Baez, Jimmie Walker, Mimi Fariña, Joe Williams, Miguel Piñero ..
Directed by: David Hoffman, Harry Wiland
Release date: 1974-04-03

The New Ice Age

7.7/10 IMDB

De Nieuwe IJstijd is the third part of the triptych Noord-Zuid (North-South), in which the director focuses on the relationships between rich and poor countries. The film draws a parallel between the living conditions of impoverished Peruvians in a suburb of Lima and a number of young workers at an ice cream factory in the Dutch province of Groningen. (

Directed by: Johan van der Keuken
Release date: 1974-01-01

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