Best Documentary Movies of 1975
Hearts and Minds
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.
Filmed live at London's Rainbow Theatre in December 1972, the innovative group Yes performs its progressive rock symphonies -- epic compositions that influenced new trends in contemporary music. "Yessongs" provides a visual record of the concert tour that became a groundbreaking tour de force in rock music. This unique concert video of Yes was filmed during their record-breaking tour and features the talents of the five original band members. The massively popular band defined the prog rock movement with their mystical epics which infused both a Medieval and Classical sound into rock music. Titles performed include "Close to the Edge," "All Good People," and "Roundabout."
Queen - A Night at the Odeon
Queen’s legendary Hammersmith Odeon show on Christmas Eve 1975 is one of the best recorded and dynamic early shows available. It occurs a month after A Night At The Opera was released and soon after it hit number one and was video taped for The Old Grey Whistle Test hosted by Bob Harris for BBC television. Most of the show was taped, but the BBC cameras were turned off when Queen came back onstage after the “Jailhouse Rock” encore to play a few more songs. The cameramen couldn’t capture this part of the show so after thirty-five years it remains unseen.
Inside Marilyn Chambers
In 1976, Marilyn Chambers was one of the most famous porn movie stars following her success in Behind the Green Door and the Resurrection of Eve. This film explores her offscreen life.
WELFARE shows the nature and complexity of the welfare system in sequences illustrating the staggering diversity of problems that constitute welfare: housing, unemployment, divorce, medical and psychiatric problems, abandoned and abused children, and the elderly. These issues are presented in a context where welfare workers as well as clients struggle to cope with and interpret the laws and regulations that govern their work and life.
The documentary depicts Bowie on tour in Los Angeles, using a mixture of vérité sequences filmed in limousines and hotels, and concert footage. Most of the concert footage was taken from a show at the Los Angeles Universal Amphitheatre on 2 September 1974 (Also featured are excerpts from D.A. Pennebaker's concert film shot at London's Hammersmith Odeon on 3 July 1973). Cracked Actor is notable for being a source for footage of Bowie's ambitious Diamond Dogs tour, and also for showing Bowie's fragile mental state during this period.
Toulouse-Lautrec's sketchbooks are turned into an animated short.
Conversation with Fritz Lang
American director William Friedkin interviewed Austrian director Fritz Lang on February 21st and 24th, 1975. Lang died August 2nd, 1976.
Academy Award winning film maker Hilary Harris’ epic vision of New York City shot over 15 years [1959-74] during which time Mr. Harris pioneered and contemporized time-lapse film making techniques to achieve this unique experiential view of the world we inhabit: chaos and confusion seem to multiply in every corner of the Big Apple. Yet there seems to be some order in all that chaotic and relentless system and things seem to work just fine. The same can be said about the human body. Director Hilary Harris proves with this short documentary that cities and organisms are all-alike.
The California Reich
A documentary on the roots of nazism In America.
Love Letter to Edie
A documentary about actress Edith Massey in which she talks about her life and her career in film.
The United States of America
A conceptual bicentennial film dealing with spatial and temporal relationships between two travelers, their car, and the geographic, political, and social changes from NY to Los Angeles.
A documentary ostensibly about Anna, a young drug addict taken off the streets by one of the filmmakers. Through her they attempt to explore the social issues from their hippie perspective, instead they create a revealing, uncomfortable self-portrait and inadvertently raise questions about documentary film-making.
James Dean: The First American Teenager
Stacy Keach narrates this documentary that chronicles the abbreviated life and career of iconic brooding bad boy James Dean, from his obscure early days working in television to his rise to stardom in films such as Rebel Without a Cause. Clips from Dean's movies are intermingled with candid interviews with the star's friends and Hollywood colleagues, including Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dennis Hopper.
One By One
Intended to be about the passing of the torch from Stewart to Cevert; One By One is a documentary chronicling the lives of Formula 1 racers in the seventies.
A sort of documentary on the people known to have fallen out of windows in a certain time frame in a certain geographical location. One of Greenaway's early short films.
Who's Out There?
Orson Welles — with contributions from scientists George Wald, Carl Sagan, and others — examines the possibility and implications of extraterrestrial life. In examining our perceptions of alien 'martians' from his "War of the Worlds" broadcast, to then-modern explorations of Mars, this film from NASA provides a unique glimpse at life on earth, and elsewhere in the universe.
A Recollection... Hanging Rock 1900
A documentary about the disappearance of school girls on St. Valentine's Day, 1900 at Australia's Hanging Rock.
This film is a revealing portrait of a tough cop with a big heart. Sergeant Bernie "Whistling" Smith walks the beat on Vancouver's Eastside, the hangout of petty criminals, down-and-outs and a variety of characters. His policing is unorthodox. To many drug users, petty thieves and prostitutes in this economically depressed area he is more than the iron hand of the law, he is also a counsellor and a friend.
An animated film about the British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who spearheaded numerous engineering marvels of the early 19th century - including the Thames Tunnel, the Great Western Railway, and the Great Eastern steamship (for 40 years the world's largest steamship). Various styles of animation are used to depict events in his colorful life.
In Search of Dracula
A documentary exploring the legends of vampires, using books, paintings and early films on the subject.
I'm a Stranger Here Myself
A portrait of legendary filmmaker Nicholas Ray while he is working as a film professor at a college in upstate New York.
An anthropological documentary about the people of the Trobriand Islands and their unique innovations to the game of cricket.
The Man Who Skied Down Everest
A Japanese skier tries to fulfill his dream of sking down Mount Everest.
A portrait of those individuals who sought radical solutions to social problems in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. Cutting back and forth between six major story lines and more than fifty characters. Exploring the lifestyles and attitudes of the American left during the period following the Vietnam War.
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
Period music, film clips and newsreel footage combined into a visual exploration of the American entertainment industry during the Great Depression.
Florence is a contemplative study of light and shadows, textures and planes, that makes beautiful use of the tonal qualities of black and white film. (mubi.com)
“The Nightcleaners” is set in the context of the campaign (1970-1972) to unionize the women who cleaned office blocks at night and were being victimized and underpaid. Intending at the outset to make a campaign film, the Collective was forced to turn to new forms in order to represent the forces at work between the cleaners, the Cleaner's Action Group and the Unions - and the complex nature of the campaign itself.
A Day in the Life of Bonnie Consolo
A Day in the Life of Bonnie Consolo is a 1975 short documentary directed by Barry J. Spinello which presents the daily challenges faced by Bonnie Consolo, an armless woman, and her determination to overcome them. The film shows her driving, cooking, and shopping like anybody else. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film.
He Restoreth My Soul
In 1961, a Christian clod named Merrill Womach survived a Thanksgiving plane accident and gas explosion that left his face and body burnt to a crisp. But instead of giving up, he sang and survived, turning tragedy into a lucrative career.
A Historical Sketch of Indian Women
A documentary on the role of women in India.
Gable: The King Remembered
Friends and co-workers recall the life of Hollywood screen star Clark Gable.
Fighting for Our Lives
Fighting for Our Lives is a 1975 documentary film produced and directed by Glen Pearcy. The film documents the striking of California grape workers from Coachella to Fresno as they negotiate for a United Farm Workers (UFW) contract in 1973. The film also depicts their non-violent struggle against police brutality on the picket lines. It was nominated for the 1976 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
An imaginatively choreographed dance interpretation of the ballad by Nina Simone explores four common stereotypes of Black women.
The Ax Fight
The Ax Fight (1975) is an ethnographic film by anthropologist and filmmaker Tim Asch and anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon about a conflict in a Yanomami village called Mishimishimabowei-teri, in southern Venezuela. It is best known as an iconic and idiosyncratic ethnographic film about the Yanomamo and is frequently shown in classroom settings.
The Love Epidemic
This Australian educational documentary concerns venereal disease in the pre-AIDS era and reveals that it is a problem that should be taken seriously by everyone — whether young or old, gay or straight. Factual segments are interspersed with humorous skits depicting how people of varying degrees of innocence can contract awful but treatable diseases.
The ABC's of Sex Education for Trainable Persons
This training film is meant for professionals who work with the mentally impaired, and is meant to teach them how to help their patients deal with sexual issues.
Elizabeth Taylor: An Intimate Portrait
Vintage 1975 documentary about the life of movie queen Elizabeth Taylor hosted by Peter Lawford, and featuring appearances by actors Roddy McDowall and Rock Hudson, directors Richard Brooks and Vincente Minnelli, Elizabeth's mother Sara Taylor, costumer Helen Rose, and producer Sam Marx.
Australia After Dark
An exotic world of eroticism, witchcraft, masochism and strange secret places.
Death: The Ultimate Mystery
An examination of reincarnation, regression, and other life-after-death subjects.
Funny Girl to Funny Lady
A benefit concert for the Special Olympics and an opportunity to promote Streisand's upcoming film (Funny Lady), this special was a combination of Streisand interview with Dick Cavett and Streisand concert. Attended by President Gerald Ford and a star-studded audience, the concert section features a handful of Funny Lady songs and a couple of Barbra standards. Streisand's Funny Lady co-star James Caan also makes an onstage appearance for a duet of Paper Moon / I Like Him and Muhammed Ali presents Barbra with a special award.
Condition of Illusion
The practice of Structural/Materialist Film is defined in...process, construction, displaced reflexively...not displaced uniformly into the pattern of a narrative bound up for the stable subject-centred image. Structural/Materialist film has no place for the look, ceaselessly displaced, outphased, a problem of seeing, it is anti-voyeuristic.
The Continuing Story of Carel and Ferd
A fascinating hybrid of performance and video verité, The Continuing Story of Carel and Ferd introduces Carel and Ferd, a couple who allowed Ginsberg to produce an ongoing documentary record of the intimate moments of their relationship. Carel, a porn actress, and Ferd, a drug addict, invite the camera to participate in their wedding, their sex life, and their break-up. Produced before the landmark PBS documentary An American Family introduced television audiences to the live-in camera — and many decades before the ubiquity of reality television — this document raises questions about the relationship between subject and camera, privacy and manipulation. Originally presented as an installation, this one-hour version, which includes interviews with Carel, Ferd and Ginsberg, was distilled from thirty hours of footage recorded from 1970 to 1975. - Electronic Arts Intermix
Inside the Giger studio creating one of his famous pieces, carving a mountain of clay into the famous "Alien". Experience Giger designing the Alien Eggs and the Derelict ship, as well as rare deleted scenes from the movie itself.
This Bloody, Blundering Business
An incisive satire on U.S. foreign policy, THIS BLOODY BLUNDERING BUSINESS traces the history of American intervention in the Philippines following the Spanish-American War. A silent movie format with lively ragtime piano music is combined with a dramatically understated narration and excerpts from "newsreels" of the period to reveal the nature of American attitudes toward Third World peoples and significant parallels with contemporary American foreign policy.
Waves of Revolution
Film made during the repressive days of the Emergency in India documents the 1974-75 uprising of the people of Bihar in Eastern India.
The Incredible Machine
The Incredible Machine [also known as Man: The Incredible Machine] is a 1975 American documentary film directed by Irwin Rosten and Ed Spiegel. It follows a "ourney" inside the human body, using advanced technology of microscopic photography and sound, including scenes of heat radiation, color x-rays, and camera exploration of a living human heart. The film is famous for including some of the first pictures ever taken inside the human body and presented on film, using some of the earliest film that medical researchers had taken inside the human digestive tract and bloodstream. It ranked as the most-watched program in Public Broadcasting Service until 1982. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir
Documentary on mainland Chinese life. Directed, produced, written, and narrated by Shirley MacLaine, the film follows her First American Women’s Friendship Delegation to China. The delegation consisted of all women, including a four-woman film crew.
AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Orson Welles
Orson Welles receives the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1975.
Four Shorts on Architecture
A visual essay on contemporary Kiwi architecture.