Favorite documentaries

by jrsl88 | created - 03 Oct 2011 | updated - 2 months 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

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: 97

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

TV-G | 69 min | Documentary

A look at the movies in the year 1939, considered by many to be one of the greatest years in film history.

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

Votes: 295

3. Backstage at Disney (1983 TV Movie)


The various trials and errors in creating films at Disney, including aspects of "Something Wicked This Way Comes".

Director: Tom Leetch | Stars: Carroll Ballard, Tim Burton, John Culhane, Harrison Ellenshaw

4. Beyond Titanic (1998 TV Movie)

94 min | Documentary

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

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

85 min | Documentary

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: 104

7. Cinerama Adventure (2002)

97 min | Documentary

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: 296

9. Garbo (2005)

85 min | Documentary, Biography

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: 247

11. Glorious Technicolor (1998 TV Movie)

60 min | Documentary, History

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: 206

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

Unrated | 88 min | Documentary, Horror

A documentary on the history of the slasher film.

Director: Jeff McQueen | Stars: Ed Green, Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Joseph Stefano

Votes: 3,165

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

90 min | Documentary, Comedy, Music

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: 78

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

45 min | Documentary, Biography

Add a Plot

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

Votes: 57

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

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, Horror

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: 2,680

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

51 min | Documentary, History

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, Fred Astaire, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore

Votes: 174

17. I Am Divine (2013)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary

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: 2,050 | Gross: $0.06M

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

120 min | Comedy, Documentary, Family

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: 143

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

57 min | Documentary, Biography

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: 195

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

G | 21 min | Comedy, Family, Documentary

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: 326

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

Unrated | 87 min | Documentary

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: 370

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

70 min | Documentary, Biography

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: 490

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

41 min | Documentary, Short

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: 173

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

TV-14 | 120 min | Comedy, Documentary

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

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

Votes: 463

27. Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces (2000 TV Movie)

85 min | Documentary, Biography

Lon Chaney, the silent movie star and makeup artist, renowned for his various characterizations and celebrated for his horror films, becomes the subject of this documentary.

Director: Kevin Brownlow | Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Forrest J. Ackerman, Michael F. Blake, Teresa Blake

Votes: 351

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

Not Rated | 115 min | Documentary, History

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: 1,106

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

60 min | Comedy, Documentary

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: 351

30. The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson (1990 TV Short)

47 min | Documentary, Animation, Short

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: 223

31. Our Gang: Inside the Clubhouse (1984 TV Movie)

93 min | Documentary

A behind the scenes look at Hal Roach's Our Gang comedies, complete with interviews from several former cast and crew members of the series.

Director: Bob Lang | Stars: Peggy Ahern, Matthew 'Stymie' Beard, Tommy Bond, Jackie Cooper

Votes: 12

32. Out of the Closet, Off the Screen: The Life of William Haines (2001)

TV-MA | 45 min | Documentary, Biography

Chronicles the life of openly gay 1930s film actor William Haines, who sacrificed his Hollywood fame when he refused to end his relationship with another man.

Directors: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato | Stars: William Haines, Chris Allen, Stockard Channing, Christina Crawford

Votes: 52

34. The Pixar Story (2007)

G | 87 min | Documentary

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: 5,167

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


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, Bruce Hornsby & The Range,, Dana Carvey

Votes: 112

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

TV-14 | 120 min | Documentary

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: 132

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

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, History

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: Christopher Nolan, Ryan Reynolds, Natalie Portman, Sam Huntington

Votes: 1,071

38. Spice Girls: 20 Years of Spice (2016)

82 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

'20 Years of Spice' explores the meteoric rise to fame of the 90's pop phenomenon, the Spice Girls. 2016 marks 20 years since the Spice Girls' debut release, 'Wannabe', and the film covers ... See full summary »

Director: Alex Lodge

Votes: 13

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

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, Music

Joe Louis Walker, live in Istanbul in 1995. It was my first time performing in Turkey. We were very surprised to find the audience very supportive and knowledgeable. Musicians are always ... See full summary »

Director: David Barnard | Stars: Spice Girls, Geri Horner, Victoria Beckham, Mel B

Votes: 167

40. Stardust: The Bette Davis Story (2006 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 88 min | Documentary, Biography

Combining unprecedented access to Davis' vast personal archives with original interviews, this documentary reveals a startling portrait of one of hollywood's most gifted and enigmatic stars.

Directors: Peter Jones, Mark A. Catalena | Stars: Susan Sarandon, Bette Davis, Ruthie Davis, Michael Merrill

Votes: 490

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

123 min | Documentary, Music

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: 591

42. That's Dancing! (1985)

G | 105 min | Documentary, Musical

The history of dance depicted on film.

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

Votes: 853 | Gross: $4.21M

43. That's Entertainment! (1974)

G | 135 min | Documentary, Family, Musical

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: 4,368 | Gross: $26.89M

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

G | 133 min | Documentary, Family, Musical

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: 1,872 | Gross: $6.54M

45. That's Entertainment! III (1994)

G | 113 min | Documentary, Family, Musical

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: 1,300 | Gross: $0.27M

46. This Filthy World (2006)

Not Rated | 86 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

68 Metascore

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

Director: Jeff Garlin | Star: John Waters

Votes: 1,337

47. This Is Cinerama (1952)

G | 115 min | Documentary

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: 405 | Gross: $41.60M

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

TV-MA | 68 min | Documentary

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: 303

49. Universal Horror (1998 TV Movie)

95 min | Documentary, Horror

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: 543

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

TV-PG | 77 min | Documentary