Best Documentary Movies of 1981

1.

Richard Feynman: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

4.0
8.8/10 IMDB

Richard Feynman was a scientific genius with - in his words - a "limited intelligence". This dichotomy is just one of the characteristics that made him a fascinating subject. The Pleasure of Finding Things Out exposes us to many more of these intriguing attributes by featuring an extensive conversation with the acclaimed Nobel Prize winner. During the course of the interview, which was conducted in 1981, Feynman uses the undeniable power of the personal to convey otherwise challenging scientific theories. His colorful and lucid stories make abstract concepts tangible, and his warm presence is sure to inspire interest and awe from even the most reluctant student of science. His insights are profound, but his delivery is anything but dry and ostentatious.

Starring: Richard Feynman ..
Release date: 1981-11-23
2.

The Decline of Western Civilization

3.9
7.6/10 IMDB

The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X.

Starring: Alice Bag, Claude Bessy, Black Flag, Don Bolles, Dinah Cancer, Exene Cervenka, Circle Jerks, Philo Cramer, Darby Crash, John Doe ..
Directed by: Penelope Spheeris
Release date: 1981-07-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1981 : The Killing of America
3.

The Killing of America

3.9
7.6/10 IMDB

A documentary of the decline of America. Featuring footage (most exclusive to this film) from race riots to serial killers and much-much more.

Starring: Chuck Riley, Ed Dorris, Thomas Noguchi, Sirhan Sirhan, Wayne Henley, Ed Kemper, Ted Bundy, Susan Atkins, David Berkowitz, Charles Manson ..
Directed by: Sheldon Renan, Leonard Schrader
Release date: 1981-09-05
4.

This Is Elvis

3.9
7.5/10 IMDB

Though several actors portray Elvis Presley at different stages of his life, this documentary is comprised mostly of actual performance footage and interviews with Elvis, his fans and those close to him. This biographical docu-drama features rare footage of Elvis and dramatically recreated scenes from Elvis' life.

Starring: Elvis Presley, David Scott, Paul Boensch III, Johnny Harra, Linda Thompson ..
Directed by: Malcolm Leo, Andrew Solt
Release date: 1981-04-03
Best Documentary Movies of 1981 : Kiss Me, Petruchio
5.

Kiss Me, Petruchio

3.8
7.9/10 IMDB

A documentary about the 1978 stage production of The Taming of the Shrew by the New York City Shakespeare company at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. Includes scenes from the production, interviews with Meryl Streep (Kate) and Raul Julia (Petruchio) as well as an introduction by producer Joseph Papp and audience commentary.

Starring: Meryl Streep, Raúl Juliá, John Bottoms, Joel Brooks, Max Gulak, Joseph Papp, Larry Pine, Deborah Rush ..
Directed by: Christopher Dixon
Release date: 1981-01-07
Best Documentary Movies of 1981 : The man who could not see far enough
6.

The man who could not see far enough

3.7
7.9/10 IMDB

A film that uses literary, structural, autobiographical, and performance metaphors to construct a series of tableaux that evoke the act of vision, the limits of perception, and the rapture of space.

Directed by: Peter Rose
Release date: 1981-09-17
Best Documentary Movies of 1981 : A Dream Called Walt Disney World
7.

A Dream Called Walt Disney World

3.7
7.7/10 IMDB

The perfect way to reminisce about your Walt Disney World vacation! It's all here, exquisitely photographed and fully narrated. From Liberty Square to Fantasyland, the file covers every part of the Magic Kingdom. There's much more, though... an entire resort playground with all the luxurious resort hotels and rustic campgrounds that make up the Vacation Kingdom. Here's a beautiful souvenir of the single most popular vacation destination in the world!

Starring: Royal Dano, Walt Disney, Byron Kane ..
Release date: 1981-01-01
8.

Vernon, Florida

3.7
7.1/10 IMDB

Early Errol Morris documentary intersplices random chatter he captured on film of the genuinely eccentric residents of Vernon, Florida. A few examples? The preacher giving a sermon on the definition of the word "Therefore," and the obsessive turkey hunter who speaks reverentially of the "gobblers" he likes to track down and kill.

Starring: Albert Bitterling, Roscoe Collins, George Harris ..
Directed by: Errol Morris
Release date: 1981-10-08
Best Documentary Movies of 1981 : The Day After Trinity
9.

The Day After Trinity

3.4
8.0/10 IMDB

The Day After Trinity (a.k.a. The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb) is a 1980 documentary film directed and produced by Jon H. Else in association with KTEH public television in San Jose, California. The film tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904–1967), the theoretical physicist who led the effort to build the first atomic bomb, tested in July 1945 at Trinity site in New Mexico. Featuring candid interviews with several Manhattan Project scientists, as well as newly declassified archival footage, The Day After Trinity was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature of 1980, and received a Peabody Award in 1981.

Starring: J. Robert Oppenheimer, Hans Bethe, Haakon Chevalier, Isidor Isaac Rabi, Robert Serber, Leslie Groves, Paul Frees, Frank Oppenheimer, Freeman Dyson ..
Directed by: Jon Else
Release date: 1981-01-20
Best Documentary Movies of 1981 : Stations of the Elevated
10.

Stations of the Elevated

3.3
7.4/10 IMDB

Stations of the Elevated exposes viewers to an underground art scene- that is, one found exclusively on the sides of subways and train cars. A moving portrait of late-70's NYC, the film boasts a soundtrack by jazz legends Charles Mingus & Aretha Franklin.

Directed by: Manfred Kirchheimer
Release date: 1981-10-01

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