1930s Documentary Movies

Public list by WPS with 92 movies or TV shows/series

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79 movies found (page 1/3):

Land Without Bread(1933)

29min | Documentary
3.6/5 (with 47 votes)

An exploration —manipulated and staged— of life in Las Hurdes, in the province of Cáceres, in Extremadura, Spain, as it was in 1932. Insalubrity, misery and lack of opportunities provoke the emigration of young people and the solitude of those who remain in the desolation of one of the poorest and least developed Spanish regions at that time. (Silent short, voiced in 1937 and 1996.)

Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations(1938)

2h 6min | Documentary
3.5/5 (with 31 votes)

The First part of Olympia, a documentary about the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin by German Director Leni Riefenstahl. The film played in theaters in 1938 and again in 1952 after the fall of the Nazi Regime.

Directed by Leni Riefenstahl - With Adolf Hitler, Jesse Owens, Luz Long, Spiros Louis, Rie Mastenbroek, Leni Riefenstahl, ...

À propos de Nice(1930)

24min | Documentary
3.4/5 (with 42 votes)

What starts off as a conventional travelogue turns into a satirical portrait of the town of Nice on the French Côte d'Azur, especially its wealthy inhabitants.

Directed by Jean Vigo

Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty(1938)

1h 40min | Documentary
3.5/5 (with 23 votes)

The Second part of Olympia, a documentary about the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin by German Director Leni Riefenstahl. The film played in theaters in 1938 and again in 1952 after the fall of the Nazi Regime.

Directed by Leni Riefenstahl - With Adolf Hitler, Jesse Owens, Luz Long, Spiros Louis, Rie Mastenbroek, Leni Riefenstahl, ...


3.1/5 (with 21 votes)

Short documentary directed by Jean Vigo about the French swimmer Jean Taris. The film is notable for the many innovative techniques that Vigo uses, including close ups and freeze frames of the swimmer's body.

Directed by Jean Vigo - With Jean Taris

Old Glory(1939)

2.6/5 (with 9 votes)

Porky balks at learning the Pledge of Allegiance until Uncle Sam appears to him in a dream and gives him a lesson in American history.

Directed by Chuck Jones

Life Is Ours(1936)

1h 6min | Drama, History
3.3/5 (with 4 votes)

A propaganda film of the communist party of France, showing how the comrades help the proletariat against the capitalists.

The 400 Million(1939)

54min | Documentary
3.2/5 (with 2 votes)

The 400 million people of China are heirs to a great civilization, as their pagodas and stone lions can attest. But they are under attack from the Japanese. Civilian refugees walk, stumble, crawl to escape the destruction of their cities... While in the China of tradition, water buffalo still work the paddies and camels cross the desert, modern China is now a republic founded by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, with modern schools, heavy industry, large engineering projects... The government of Chiang Kai-shek resists the Japanese invasion from the coast. Madame Chiang receives a cheque from the U.S.A. for war relief. War production continues in distant villages safe from the grasp of the Japanese. With modern weapons the Chinese are pursuing their struggle behind enemy lines. And still their opponent persists in his reprisal bombings of civilian targets. "Will these people win?".

Directed by Joris Ivens - With Chiang Kai-shek, Fredric March, Morris Carnovsky, Sidney Lumet, Soong May-ling, Sun Yat-sen, ...

Salt for Svanetia(1930)

1h 2min | Documentary, Drama
3.4/5 (with 6 votes)

An ethnographic treasure that documents with visual bravado the harsh conditions of life in the isolated mountain village of Ushkul.

Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov

Working on the Douro River(1931)

20min | Documentary
3.4/5 (with 10 votes)

Short silent documentary from 1931 about those working on the River Douro in Oporto.

Directed by Manoel de Oliveira


1h 6min | Documentary

The story of Ali and his son Bin, natives of Sumatra, who hunt in a jungle village.

Marian Anderson: The Lincoln Memorial Concert(1939)

2.9/5 (with 5 votes)

Short film which documents Marian Anderson's singing performance at the Lincoln Memorial.

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The Spanish Earth(1937)

53min | War, Documentary
3.3/5 (with 6 votes)

A propaganda film made during the Spanish Civil War in support of the Republican government against the rebellion by Gen. Francisco Franco's forces who were backed by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The film would have been seen by those making it as a documentary.

Directed by Joris Ivens - With Dolores Ibárruri, Enrique Líster, Gustav Regler, José Díaz, Manuel Azaña

Coal Face(1935)

11min | Documentary
3.1/5 (with 4 votes)

1935 documentary about the hard working life of Welsh coal miners.

Directed by Alberto Cavalcanti

Wings Over Everest(1934)

32min | Documentary
2.3/5 (with 2 votes)

A documentary about the first flight over Mt Everest.

Lest We Forget(1935)

1h 52min | Documentary
3.0/5 (with 2 votes)

Lest We Forget was Canada’s official Great War film. It sparked controversy when it was shown across the country in 1935, during the midst of the worst depression in Canadian history, and with a growing anxiety over the increased aggression of international dictators. The film provided a contested venue for what the Great War had meant to a generation of Canadians. But this was no ordinary war film. Officially sanctioned and constructed from archival footage, the story of Canada’s war was told in 100 minutes, from the opening phases through to the grim fighting on the Western Front, and including those who supported the soldiers from home. Many journalists, politicians, and veterans called Lest We Forget the most authentic film to have appeared since the end of the war, especially in contrast to Hollywood fictional productions.

City of Wax(1934)

3.0/5 (with 1 vote)

Oscar Live Action Short film about bees.

Directed by Horace Woodard, Stacy Woodard - With Gayne Whitman


23min | Documentary

Documentary describing the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa in the Dutch East Indies, destroying 70% of the island and its surrounding archipelago.

Directed by Joe Rock - With Graham McNamee

The Conquest of the Air(1936)

1h 11min | History, Documentary
2.0/5 (with 2 votes)

This early docudrama uses dramatic re-enactment, working models of early flying machines, and archival footage to trace man's attempts to fly from ancient times through the 1930's.

Directed by Zoltan Korda - With Laurence Olivier

Hindenburg Disaster Newsreel Footage(1937)

3.7/5 (with 8 votes)

The airship Hindenburg, arriving from Europe, was being led to its mooring at Lakehurst, New Jersey when suddenly disaster struck. The hydrogen-filled zeppelin ignited, and was almost instantly transformed into an enormous fireball. In less than a minute, the entire ship had been consumed by flames. The Hindenburg explosion marked the end of the budding airship travel industry.

North Sea(1938)

32min | Documentary
2.9/5 (with 3 votes)

Drama-documentary, reconstructing a real incident in which a trawler got into difficulties in a North Sea storm. Released 7th March 1938.

Directed by Harry Watt

Cologne: From the Diary of Ray and Esther(1939)

14min | Documentary
2.7/5 (with 4 votes)

An amateur documentary focused on the community of Cologne, Minnesota, circa 1939.

With Byrd at the South Pole(1930)

1h 22min | Documentary
3.2/5 (with 4 votes)

With Byrd at the South Pole (1930) is a documentary film about Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd and his 1st quest to the South Pole beginning at the Little America-Exploration Base. The film's soundtrack consists mostly of music and sound effects, with narration read by Floyd Gibbons. The film won at the 3rd Academy Awards for Best Cinematography.

With Richard E. Byrd, Bernt Balchen, Paul Siple, Norman D. Vaughan


1h 7min | Documentary
3.5/5 (with 9 votes)

A lyrical documentary on the lives of Coal miners in the Donbass who are struggling to meet their production quotas under the Five Year Plan.

Directed by Dziga Vertov

Our Day(1938)

2.4/5 (with 2 votes)

Home movie of the day in the life of the Kelly Family of Lebanon, Kentucky.

Granton Trawler(1934)

11min | Documentary
2.4/5 (with 8 votes)

Documentary following an Edinburgh fishing trawler, the "Isabella Grieg".

Directed by John Grierson

Three Songs About Lenin(1934)

59min | Documentary
3.0/5 (with 10 votes)

This documentary, made up of 3 episodes, is based on three songs sung by anonymous people in Soviet Russia about Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.

Directed by Dziga Vertov


2.0/5 (with 2 votes)

After the audience is instructed how to use the 3-D glasses they received, demonstrations of three-dimensional films are presented. Various objects move towards the camera, including a ladder being shoved out a window, the slide on a trombone, a woman on a swing, and a thrown baseball.

From Stump to Ship(1930)

30min | Documentary
2.9/5 (with 3 votes)

The long log drive: a spring journey down icy streams and rivers moving logs from the forest to the mill for sawing into boards, laths, and clapboards. For more than 150 years, logging techniques remained the same. Men cut trees by hand and loaded them on horse-drawn sleds to be hauled over snow to the river. Skilled river drivers maneuvered the logs downstream, risking their limbs and lives every day. This film survives as a record of the long log business.

Directed by Alfred K. Ames

The River(1938)

31min | Documentary
2.8/5 (with 6 votes)

This short Depression-era documentary describes the importance of the Mississippi River to the United States and laments the environmental destruction committed in the name of progress, particularly farming and timber practices and their impact on impoverished farmers.

Directed by Pare Lorentz
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