Oscars Nominees for Best Documentary Feature

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1. The Battle of Midway (1942)

TV-G | 18 min | Documentary, Short, War

The Japanese attack on Midway in June 1942, filmed as it happened.

Director: John Ford | Stars: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, Logan Ramsey, James Roosevelt

Votes: 1,397


2. Kokoda Front Line! (1942)

9 min | Documentary, Short, War

Cameraman Damien Parer has just returned from the front in New Guinea, where he's documented Australian troops in action. He explains this to us in a prolog. We then see air drops of ... See full summary »

Stars: Peter Bathurst, Damien Parer

Votes: 162


4. Prelude to War (1942)

Not Rated | 52 min | Documentary, War

The official World War II US Government film statement defining the various enemies of the Allies and why they must be fought.

Directors: Frank Capra, Anatole Litvak | Stars: Walter Huston, Victor Bulwer-Lytton, Kai-Shek Chiang, Walter Darré

Votes: 1,579


6. Combat Report (1942)

9 min | Documentary

Follows the crew of a Mitchell bomber from the 2nd BG as they fight submarines.

Star: Walter Huston

Votes: 22

8. The Grain That Built a Hemisphere (1943)

11 min | Documentary, Animation, Short

This animated documentary outlines the history and importance of corn in North America.

Directors: Bill Justice, Bill Roberts

Votes: 152

9. Henry Browne, Farmer (1942)

9 min | Documentary, Short

Documentary short film dramatizing the efforts of a black farmer and his family to help the American war effort by increasing production.

Director: Roger Barlow | Star: Canada Lee

Votes: 29

10. High Over the Borders (1942)

23 min | Documentary, Short

An Oscar-nominated film describing migration among birds in North America emphasizing the international character of many of the flights of different species.

Director: Irving Jacoby | Star: Phil Brown

Votes: 20

11. High Stakes in the East (1942)

10 min | Documentary, Short

In the aftermath of the Allied defeat in the battle for Java, after which the island fell into Japanese hands, this propaganda film made for American audiences shows what has been lost.

12. Inside Fighting China (1942)

22 min | Documentary, Short, War

An Oscar-nominated war-time propaganda film on the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. It followed the government of Chiang Kai-shek as their society changed and they fight back against the now-common enemy (to the US), Japan.

Stars: Kai-Shek Chiang, Lorne Greene, Hirohito

Votes: 18

13. It's Everybody's War (1942)

18 min | Short, History, War

Wartime documentary propagandizing for greater participation in the U.S. war effort during the Second World War.

Director: Will Price | Stars: Henry Fonda, Mae Marsh

Votes: 34

14. Listen to Britain (1942)

Not Rated | 20 min | Documentary, Short

A depiction of life in wartime England during the Second World War. Director Humphrey Jennings visits many aspects of civilian life and of the turmoil and privation caused by the war, all without narration.

Directors: Humphrey Jennings, Stewart McAllister | Stars: Leonard Brockington, Joseph Macleod, Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen

Votes: 1,386

15. Little Belgium (1942)

10 min | Documentary

A profile of the more than 2,000 Belgian refugees in the fishing port of Brixham.

Votes: 5

17. Mr. Blabbermouth! (1942)

Approved | 19 min | Short

Following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, America was rife with rumors about the size of Japan's armed forces and how well-equipped they were to wage war against the U.S. Using animation, ... See full summary »

Director: Basil Wrangell | Stars: John Nesbitt, Kai-Shek Chiang, Adolf Hitler, Stanley Andrews

Votes: 229

18. Mister Gardenia Jones (1942)

13 min | Documentary, Short

Documentary short film depicting the work of the United Service Organizations (USO) in providing recreational and morale-boosting services for American troops.

Director: George B. Seitz | Stars: Ronald Reagan, Laraine Day, Charles Winninger, Fay Bainter

Votes: 52

19. The New Spirit (1942)

Approved | 7 min | Documentary, Animation, Short

Animated documentary promoting timely filing and payment of Federal income taxes, demonstrated by Donald Duck's difficulties with his tax return.

Directors: Wilfred Jackson, Ben Sharpsteen | Stars: Cliff Edwards, Clarence Nash, Fred Shields, The Sportsmen Quartet

Votes: 290

20. Paramount Victory Short No. T2-3: The Price of Victory (1942)

14 min | Documentary, Short, War

Vice-President narrates a patriotic, propaganda short designed to boost morale in the the early days of World War II.

Director: William H. Pine | Star: Henry Wallace

Votes: 16

21. A Ship Is Born (1942)

Approved | 22 min | Documentary, Short, War

This Vitaphone 'Technicolor Special' (production number 8001) portrays the behind-the-scenes story of the building and manning, during World War Two, of the USA supply line to Victory ... See full summary »

Director: Jean Negulesco | Star: Knox Manning

Votes: 15

24. The White Eagle (1942)

27 min | Documentary, Short

An Oscar-nominated British documentary about the Polish people who escaped Poland and were living in England during World War II, both civilians and soldiers.

Director: Eugeniusz Cekalski | Stars: Eugeniusz Cekalski, Zbigniew Grabowski, Leslie Howard, Alvar Liddell

Votes: 14

25. Winning Your Wings (1942)

Approved | 18 min | Short, History, War

Inspirational short film designed to encourage recruits for the American Army Air Forces.

Directors: John Huston, Owen Crump | Stars: James Stewart, Jean Ames, Leah Baird, Don DeFore

Votes: 245

26. Desert Victory (1943)

62 min | Documentary, War

The Allied campaign to drive Germany and Italy from North Africa is analysed, with the major portion of the film examining the battles at El Alamein, including a re-enactment.

Directors: Roy Boulting, David MacDonald | Stars: Harold Alexander, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Bernard L. Montgomery

Votes: 217


27. Baptism of Fire (1943)

36 min | Short, Drama, War

Training film for the U.S. Army men preparing for their initial entry into the war against the Nazis. Teaching the techniques of enemy identification, combat and hand to hand fighting.

Director: U.S. Army Signal Corps | Stars: Elisha Cook Jr., Walter Sande, Peter Whitney

Votes: 23

28. The Battle of Russia (1943)

Not Rated | 83 min | Documentary, History, War

Documentary revealing the nature and process of the fight between the Soviet Union and Germany in the Second World War.

Directors: Frank Capra, Anatole Litvak | Stars: Anthony Veiller, Ion Antonescu, Nikolay Cherkasov, Anthony Eden

Votes: 1,034

29. Report from the Aleutians (1943)

Not Rated | 47 min | Documentary, History, War

Filmmaker John Huston narrates this Oscar-nominated World War II-era film about life among the U.S. soldiers protecting Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

Director: John Huston | Stars: John Huston, Walter Huston, Milton Ashkin, Lyle A. Bean

Votes: 429

31. The Fighting Lady (1944)

Approved | 61 min | Documentary, History, War

The film follows the WWII exploits of the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) (unidentified in the film), in its first major operations following its commissioning in 1943. ... See full summary »

Directors: Edward Steichen, William Wyler | Stars: Robert Taylor, Charles Boyer, Joseph J. Clark, Dixie Kiefer

Votes: 337


32. Resisting Enemy Interrogation (1944)

Not Rated | 66 min | Drama, War

A downed American bomber crew quickly falls prey to the clever interrogation techniques of the Germans in this dramatic training film.

Director: Bernard Vorhaus | Stars: Louis Adlon, Rand Brooks, Frederic Brunn, George Dolenz

Votes: 197

33. The True Glory (1945)

Not Rated | 87 min | Documentary, War

A documentary account of the allied invasion of Europe during World War II compiled from the footage shot by nearly one thousand four hundred cameramen. It opens as the assembled Allied ... See full summary »

Directors: Garson Kanin, Carol Reed | Stars: Leslie Banks, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Fallon, Joseph Goebbels

Votes: 372


34. The Last Bomb (1945)

Not Rated | 35 min | Short, Documentary, War

Documentary of the planning and delivery of the last great bomber attack on the city of Tokyo by the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II.

Director: Frank Lloyd | Stars: Reed Hadley, Arthur Kennedy, Jack Klock, Curtis LeMay

Votes: 59

35. Design for Death (1947)

Approved | 48 min | Documentary

An Academy Award winner for best documentary, the film opens with a notice that..."Exhibition of confiscated Japanese film material authorized by permission of the Alien Property Custodian ... See full summary »

Stars: Kent Smith, Hans Conried

Votes: 24


36. Journey Into Medicine (1947)

38 min | Documentary

Mike, a medical student starts at Columbia and then moves into pediatrics at a teaching hospital run by Cornell. He learns how new methods help children live longer. After this he went to ... See full summary »

Director: Willard Van Dyke

Votes: 13

37. The World Is Rich (1948)

46 min | Documentary

An examination of the problems of world food distribution following World War II, outlining steps underway to deal with the problems.

Director: Paul Rotha

Votes: 9

38. The Secret Land (1948)

Approved | 71 min | Documentary

The 1946-1947 U.S. military expedition to explore and map Antarctica, led by Admiral Richard E. Byrd, is presented from its planning stages through its successful completion.

Stars: Robert Montgomery, Robert Taylor, Van Heflin, James Forrestal

Votes: 249


39. The Quiet One (1948)

65 min | Documentary, Drama

A documentary account of the rehabilitation at the Wiltwyck School of an emotionally disturbed Black boy who is unwanted, misunderstood, and inwardly tortured.

Director: Sidney Meyers | Stars: Gary Merrill, Donald Thompson, Clarence Cooper, Sadie Stockton

Votes: 168

40. Daybreak in Udi (1949)

Approved | 47 min | Documentary

This 47-minute documentary, financed by HRH's government, won an Oscar in the special category, and most of it was later edited into a 1953 two-segment documentary called "Savage World" by ... See full summary »

Director: Terry Bishop | Stars: E.R. Chadwick, Harford Anerobi, Fanny Elumeze, Joseph Amalu

Votes: 31


41. Kenji Comes Home (1949)


Kenji is torn between the glowing promises of communism and ideals of his girlfriend Aki's Christian religion.

Director: Charles F. Schwep | Star: William Canfield

42. The Titan: Story of Michelangelo (1950)

Not Rated | 70 min | Documentary

The life and works of the great artist Michelangelo Buonarroti are shown against the historical background of his time. It begins with his earliest artworks, and follows his life and career... See full summary »

Directors: Robert J. Flaherty, Richard Lyford, Curt Oertel | Star: Fredric March

Votes: 50


43. With These Hands (1950)

52 min | Drama

Film produced by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union -- featuring several well-known Broadway actors -- recreates Triangle Fire of 1911 and compares working conditions of the 1910's with the 1950's.

Director: Jack Arnold | Stars: Sam Levene, Arlene Francis, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Arnold

Votes: 23

44. Kon-Tiki (1950)

Approved | 77 min | Documentary

A documentary about the Kon-Tiki expedition of the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl.

Director: Thor Heyerdahl | Stars: Thor Heyerdahl, Herman Watzinger, Erik Hesselberg, Knut Haugland

Votes: 2,124


45. I Was a Communist for the F.B.I. (1951)

Not Rated | 83 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

In Pittsburgh, PA, an F.B.I. agent works to undermine the Communist party, but his brothers and his teenage boy thinks he's a real Red.

Director: Gordon Douglas | Stars: Frank Lovejoy, Dorothy Hart, Philip Carey, James Millican

Votes: 607

46. The Sea Around Us (1953)

Approved | 62 min | Documentary

Oscar-winning documentary based on Rachel L. Carson's pioneering study of ocean life chronicled in her award-winning and best-selling 1951 book of the same name.

Director: Irwin Allen | Stars: Don Forbes, Theodore von Eltz

Votes: 204


47. The Hoaxters (1952)

Approved | 36 min | Short, Documentary

So called snake oil salesmen at carnivals are often used as the symbols of hoaxters. There are much more globally sinister hoaxters in the form of world leaders of totalitarian regimes, ... See full summary »

Stars: Marilyn Erskine, Howard Keel, George Murphy, Walter Pidgeon

Votes: 116