Favorite documentaries

by jrsl88 | created - 03 Oct 2011 | updated - 3 weeks ago | Public

Documentaries that are my personal favorites. Arranged in ABC order. This list is my own opinion.

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1. 20th Century-Fox: The First 50 Years (1997 TV Movie)

150 min | Documentary

7.0
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The first half century of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation from its beginnings under Hungarian immigrant William Fox to it emergence as a major studio.

Director: Kevin Burns | Stars: James Coburn, Julie Andrews, David Brown, Red Buttons

Votes: 93

2. 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year (2009 TV Movie)

TV-G | 69 min | Documentary

8.3
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Director: Constantine Nasr | Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Leonard Maltin, Thomas Schatz, F.X. Feeney

Votes: 236

3. Beyond Titanic (1998 TV Movie)

94 min | Documentary

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A survey of 86 years of Titanicana in popular culture, with the emphasis on movies about (or inspired by) the disaster.

Director: Edith Becker | Stars: Victor Garber, Steven Biel, Daniel Allen Butler, Ryan Cassidy

Votes: 104

4. Busby Berkeley: Going Through the Roof (1998 TV Movie)

Documentary, Biography, Music

8.8
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Director: David Thompson | Stars: Busby Berkeley, Larry Robinson, Kenneth Anger, Richard Barrios

Votes: 43

5. The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk (2007 Video)

85 min | Documentary

7.8
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The nearly 30-year struggle to bring sound to motion pictures is the backdrop for this insightful documentary. Film historians, and survivors from the era take the audience from the early ... See full summary »

Stars: Mark Hunt, Ron Hutchinson, Scott Eyman, Rudy Behlmer

Votes: 99

6. Cinerama Adventure (2002)

97 min | Documentary

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A nostalgic and compelling look into the legendary three camera, three projector process that revolutionized motion pictures and led the industry into the widescreen era. Through actual ... See full summary »

Director: David Strohmaier | Stars: Lowell Thomas, Fred Waller, Jim Morrison, Rudy Behlmer

Votes: 280

7. Disney Through the Decades (2001 Video)

Documentary, Short

7.9
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Director: Jeff Kurtti | Stars: D.B. Sweeney, Roy Edward Disney, Angela Lansbury, Fess Parker

Votes: 27

8. Garbo (2005)

85 min | Documentary, Biography

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

An original documentary from Turner Classic Movies, narrated by Julie Christie

Directors: Christopher Bird, Kevin Brownlow | Stars: Julie Christie, Greta Garbo, Charles Busch, Karen Swenson

Votes: 231

9. Glorious Technicolor (1998 TV Movie)

60 min | Documentary, History

8.1
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The history of color photography in motion pictures, in particular the Technicolor company's work.

Director: Peter Jones | Stars: Angela Lansbury, Esther Williams, Arlene Dahl, Evelyn Keyes

Votes: 198

10. Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (2006)

Unrated | 88 min | Documentary, Horror

7.3
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A documentary on the history of the slasher film.

Stars: Ed Green, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Herb Freed

Votes: 2,954

11. The Golden Girls: Their Greatest Moments (2003 TV Movie)

90 min | Documentary, Comedy, Music

8.7
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This 90-minute special aired on the Lifetime network in June 2003 served as a reunion show for 3 of the 4 Golden Girls. This show has clips from the girls' favorite moments from the show, ... See full summary »

Stars: Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White, Estelle Getty

Votes: 73

12. Greta Garbo: A Lone Star (2001 TV Movie)

45 min | Documentary, Biography

8.4
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Director: Steve Cole | Stars: Lauren Bacall, Ty Burr, Kitty Carlisle, Greta Garbo

Votes: 54

13. Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees (1997 TV Movie)

60 min | Comedy, Music

7.7
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This hour-long special that aired on ABC finds Davy, Micky, Peter, and Mike loking back on the old days (with a medley of their hits) and promoting their 1996 CD "Justus" with 3 music ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Nesmith | Stars: Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork

Votes: 115

14. His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th (2009 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, Horror

7.1
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A documentary exploring 30 years of the "Friday The 13th" film series featuring all new interviews with cast and crew from all 12 films and various horror fans and filmmakers.

Director: Daniel Farrands | Stars: Diane Almeida, Erich Anderson, Judie Aronson, Diana Barrows

Votes: 2,545

15. Hollywood: The Dream Factory (1972 TV Movie)

51 min | Documentary, History

5.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

A documentary about the glorious history of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and its decline leading to the sale of its back lot and props. By extension this provides a general history of Hollywood's Golden Age and the legendary studio system.

Stars: Dick Cavett, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, Cary Grant

Votes: 162

16. I Am Divine (2013)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
70 Metascore

How Divine, aka Harris Glenn Milstead, became John Waters' cinematic muse and an international drag icon.

Director: Jeffrey Schwarz | Stars: Divine, Michael Musto, Mark Payne, Greg Gorman

Votes: 1,841 | Gross: $0.06M

17. I Love Lucy's 50th Anniversary Special (2001 TV Special)

120 min | Comedy, Documentary, Family

6.7
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Retrospective honoring the 50th anniversary of the debut of "I Love Lucy," one of TV's pioneer programs. Along with clips from the original series, guests recalled memories and the impact ... See full summary »

Director: Gary Smith | Stars: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Desi Arnaz Jr., Lucie Arnaz

Votes: 140

18. I Yam What I Yam: The Story of Popeye the Sailor (2007 Video)

43 min | Documentary

7.7
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Directors: Constantine Nasr, Mark Nassief | Star: Tom Kenny

Votes: 12

19. I'm King Kong!: The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper (2005)

57 min | Documentary, Biography

7.7
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This documentary explores the incredible life of Merian C. Cooper, from his time as a soldier and pilot in three different wars, to his exploits in Hollywood, as a director, producer and cinematic innovator.

Directors: Christopher Bird, Kevin Brownlow | Stars: Alec Baldwin, Merian C. Cooper, David Strohmaier, James D'Arc

Votes: 184

20. It's Tough to Be a Bird (1969)

G | 21 min | Comedy, Family, Documentary

7.2
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Part cartoon and part documentary, this film offers a humorous look at birds and the ways people perceive them.

Director: Ward Kimball | Stars: Ruth Buzzi, Richard Bakalyan, John Emerson, Jim Swain

Votes: 293

21. Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star (2002 TV Movie)

Unrated | 87 min | Documentary

6.2
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In this documentary on the life of 'Joan Crawford', we learn why she should be remembered as the great actress she was, and not only as the "mommie dearest." caricature she has become. ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Fitzgerald | Stars: Anjelica Huston, Diane Baker, Charles Busch, Ben Cooper

Votes: 356

22. Katharine Hepburn: All About Me (1993 TV Movie)

70 min | Documentary, Biography

8.3
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Katharine Hepburn talks about her life from the start, through all her film years, her relationship with Spencer Tracy, and what she does with her time currently.

Director: David Heeley | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Dorothy Arzner, Lauren Bacall, John Beal

Votes: 460

23. Legends of the Dark Knight: The History of Batman (2005 Video)

41 min | Documentary, Short

8.0
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A look at the history of the Batman comic franchise.

Director: Constantine Nasr | Stars: Harlan Ellison, Mark Cotta Vaz, Michael E. Uslan, Bob Kane

Votes: 165

24. Live from New York: The First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live (2005 TV Special)

TV-14 | 120 min | Comedy, Documentary

7.4
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A retrospective of the first 5 years of Saturday Night Live.

Director: Kenneth Bowser | Stars: Sheree Ali, Joan Armatrading, Dan Aykroyd, Anne Beatts

Votes: 450

25. Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman (2006 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 115 min | Documentary, History

8.0
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The history of the comic book superhero, Superman in his various media incarnations.

Director: Kevin Burns | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Gerard Jones, Forrest J. Ackerman, Elliot S. Maggin

Votes: 1,076

26. Married... with Children Reunion (2003 TV Movie)

60 min | Comedy, Documentary

7.9
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Cast members of Married...With Children (1987-1997) reunite and share memories of working on America's most favorite ground-breaking sitcom since All in the Family.

Director: Hal Grant | Stars: Ed O'Neill, Katey Sagal, Christina Applegate, David Faustino

Votes: 328

27. The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson (1990 TV Movie)

47 min | Documentary, Animation, Action

8.8
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While The Muppets prepare a tribute to the late Jim Henson, they learn about the life and career of the renowned puppeteer/film maker.

Director: Don Mischer | Stars: Jim Henson, Harry Belafonte, Carol Burnett, Ray Charles

Votes: 211

28. Out of the Inkwell: The Fleischer Story (2008 Video)

Documentary

7.4
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Star: Carl Reiner

Votes: 8

29. The Pixar Story (2007)

G | 87 min | Documentary

7.9
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A look at the first years of Pixar Animation Studios - from the success of "Toy Story" and Pixar's promotion of talented people, to the building of its East Bay campus, the company's ... See full summary »

Director: Leslie Iwerks | Stars: Stacy Keach, John Lasseter, Brad Bird, John Musker

Votes: 4,481

30. Saturday Night Live in the '80s: Lost & Found (2005 TV Special)

Documentary

7.4
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The aftermath of Lorne Michaels leaving to the sucess of Saturday Night Live in the 80's.

Director: Kenneth Bowser | Stars: Jim Belushi, A. Whitney Brown, Dana Carvey, Chevy Chase

Votes: 111

31. Saturday Night Live in the '90s: Pop Culture Nation (2007 TV Special)

TV-14 | 120 min | Documentary

6.7
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A retrospective of "Saturday Night Live" during the 1990's. Includes interviews with the cast and crew as well as hosts. Features memorable sketches and behind the scenes dynamics.

Directors: Kenneth Bowser, Beth McCarthy-Miller, James Signorelli, Dave Wilson | Stars: Christina Aguilera, Alec Baldwin, Beck, Michael Blakey

Votes: 128

32. Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics (2010 Video)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, History

7.8
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A look at the history of the comic book publication that launched such legendary characters as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

Director: Mac Carter | Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Sam Huntington, Bryan Singer, Zack Snyder

Votes: 1,026

33. Spice Girls: Live in Istanbul (1997 Video)

90 min | Documentary, Music

7.6
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Director: David Barnard | Stars: Spice Girls, Geri Horner, Victoria Beckham, Melanie Brown

Votes: 162

34. The T.A.M.I. Show (1964)

123 min | Documentary, Music

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

Surf pop duo, Jan and Dean host this showcase of performances by well-known Rock, R&B, and pop stars of the era.

Director: Steve Binder | Stars: The Beach Boys, The Barbarians, Chuck Berry, The Blossoms

Votes: 543

35. That's Dancing! (1985)

G | 105 min | Documentary, Musical

7.0
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The history of dance depicted on film.

Director: Jack Haley Jr. | Stars: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ray Bolger, Sammy Davis Jr., Gene Kelly

Votes: 788 | Gross: $4.21M

36. That's Entertainment! (1974)

G | 135 min | Documentary, Family, Musical

7.7
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Various MGM stars from yesterday present their favourite musical moments from the studio's 50 year history.

Director: Jack Haley Jr. | Stars: Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, Peter Lawford

Votes: 4,158 | Gross: $26.89M

37. That's Entertainment, Part II (1976)

G | 133 min | Documentary, Family, Musical

7.3
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Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire present more golden moments from the MGM film library, this time including comedy and drama as well as classic musical numbers.

Director: Gene Kelly | Stars: Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney

Votes: 1,740

38. That's Entertainment! III (1994)

G | 113 min | Documentary, Family, Musical

7.6
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Some of MGM's musical stars review the studio's history of musicals. From The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929) to Brigadoon (1954), from the first musical talkies to Gene Kelly in Singin' in ... See full summary »

Directors: Bud Friedgen, Michael J. Sheridan | Stars: Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller, Mickey Rooney

Votes: 1,203 | Gross: $0.27M

39. This Filthy World (2006)

Not Rated | 86 min | Documentary, Comedy

7.8
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68 Metascore

Jeff Garlin's documentary on the work of John Waters.

Director: Jeff Garlin | Star: John Waters

Votes: 1,276

40. This Is Cinerama (1952)

G | 115 min | Documentary

7.0
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A standard screen B&W prologue during which Lowell Thomas shows how, from the dawn of history, mankind has attempted to create the illusion of depth & movement by artistic, mechanical and ... See full summary »

Directors: Merian C. Cooper, Gunther von Fritsch, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Michael Todd Jr. | Stars: Lowell Thomas, Kathy Darlyn, Toni Valk

Votes: 370 | Gross: $41.60M

41. Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood (2008 TV Movie)

TV-MA | 68 min | Documentary

7.5
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Various film historians, film makers, and cultural commentators discuss the cultural, political, economic and religious reasons for what is known as the pre-code era of Hollywood movie ... See full summary »

Stars: Valerie Spencer, John Landis, Jonathan Kuntz, Rudy Behlmer

Votes: 293

42. The Truth About Mother Goose (1957)

Approved | 15 min | Documentary, Animation, Short

7.5
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The true story behind various nursery rhymes is explored.

Directors: Bill Justice, Wolfgang Reitherman | Stars: Page Cavanaugh Trio, Kevin Corcoran, John Dehner, Ginny Tyler

Votes: 235

43. Universal Horror (1998 TV Movie)

95 min | Documentary, Horror

7.0
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A documentary examining the early days of horror films, particularly those crafted at Universal Studios during the 1930s.

Director: Kevin Brownlow | Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Christopher Adamson, John Augur, Ray Bradbury

Votes: 484

44. Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007 TV Movie)

TV-PG | 77 min | Documentary

7.4
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Martin Scorsese narrates this tribute to Val Lewton, the producer of a series of memorable low-budget horror films for RKO Studios. Raised by his mother and his aunt, his films often ... See full summary »

Director: Kent Jones | Stars: Martin Scorsese, Elias Koteas, Orson Welles, Val E. Lewton

Votes: 423

45. Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us (2005 TV Movie)

TV-PG | 56 min | Documentary

6.7
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Directors Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott and James Cameron discuss the science fiction movies of the 1950s that influenced them.

Director: Richard Schickel | Stars: Mark Hamill, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott

Votes: 364

46. The Wonderful World of Disney: 40 Years of Television Magic (1994 TV Movie)

120 min | Documentary, Family

6.2
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Director: Frank Martin | Stars: Debbie Allen, Kirstie Alley, Bobby Burgess, Margaret Cho

Votes: 23

47. A Yabba-Dabba-Doo Celebration!: 50 Years of Hanna-Barbera (1989 TV Movie)

94 min | Documentary, Animation

7.4
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A 1989 live-action/animated television special, hosted by Tony Danza and Annie Potts celebrating 50 years of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera's partnership in animation. It covers their ... See full summary »

Director: Marshall Flaum | Stars: Tony Danza, Annie Potts, Victor Borge, Shari Belafonte

Votes: 31