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Great feature-length Making-of documentaries & bio-documentaries (1 Viewer)

Tom St Jones

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Don't know if there's already a thread for this -- I searched but didn't find one (which means it's likely right under my nose) -- or if this is even the right forum, but:

What would you consider some great feature-length movie/ franchise making--of documentaries or biographical docs (theatrically-released, direct-to-video or made for TV)?

A few of my faves:

HEARTS OF DARKNESS: A FILMMAKER'S APOCALYPSE (1991) Available on "Apocalypse Now: Full Disclosure" Blu-ray and "Apocalypse Now: Final Cut" UHD

THE LEGEND OF MARILYN MONROE (1966) Narrated by John Huston. Released on DVD.

STEVE McQUEEN: THE ESSENCE OF COOL (2004)
Released on "Bullitt" Blu-ray, 2-disc DVD and "The Essential Steve McQueen" DVD set

MEMORY: THE MAKING OF ALIEN (2019)
Available on Blu-ray & DVD
 
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Angelo Colombus

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Here are some of my favorites:

1) Burden of Dreams (1982) Les Blank
2) Buster Keaton, A Hard Act to Follow (1987) Kevin Brownlow & David Gill
3) W.C Fields, Straight Up. (1986) Joe Adamson
4) George Stevens, A Film Maker’s Journey (1984) George Stevens Jr.
5) Unknown Chaplin (1982) Kevin Brownlow & David Gill
 

Tom St Jones

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Here are some of my favorites:

1) Burden of Dreams (1982) Les Blank
2) Buster Keaton, A Hard Act to Follow (1987) Kevin Brownlow & David Gill
3) W.C Fields, Straight Up. (1986) Joe Adamson
4) George Stevens, A Film Maker’s Journey (1984) George Stevens Jr.
5) Unknown Chaplin (1982) Kevin Brownlow & David Gill
I actually meant to include that George Stevens doc in my post but couldn't recall it's full title :>]
 

Walter Kittel

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Another terrific Buster Keaton documentary is The Great Buster from 2018 by Peter Bogdanovich.

There is a really nice documentary about the film Galaxy Quest called Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary from 2019 that goes into the making of the film and the social phenomena surrounding the film. If you are a fan of the original film, which I am, it is worth your time.

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography was an excellent documentary that I would recommend for anyone interested in the topic of cinematography.

In a similar vein, dealing with the creation of music for films is Score: A Film Music Documentary from 2016.


Back in the late '70s and early '80s there were a series of one hour programs broadcast on CBS that accompanied the releases of the first three Star Wars film and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I have no idea if these were ever released on any media or if they are available as supplementary material, but I thought I'd mention them in passing. I'm sure they seem pretty dated now, but back in the day they were entertaining and offered up glimpses of the films in a pre-internet era and pre-home video release of these titles. These were produced by Lucas Film and were pretty well done.

- Walter.
 

J. Casey

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Don't forget "Wild Bill" regarding Wellman (Standalone and one of the WB Pre-Code sets DVD), "Becoming John Ford,"(DVD, standalone + Ford At Fox box set), and "John Huston The Man, The Movies, The Maverick"(2 disc Treasure Of The Sierra Madre DVD and blu ray). Also GONE WITH THE WIND, THE MAKING OF A CLASSIC (standalone + various DVD and blu ray supplements to GWTW), which features a lot of interesting screen tests from various actors/actresses.
 
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Jeffrey D

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I like the 2 hour Jaws documentary- the extended cut for the DVD release. The story Dreyfus tells about Shaw barely getting up the strength to do a line of dialog due to his being seasick is a great bit.
 

AlexF

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Four I've REALLY enjoyed were:
The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys - 1996
Full Tilt Boogie (From Dusk Till Dawn) - 1997
Michael Lives: The Making of Rob Zombie's Halloween - 2004
Never Sleep Again: The Nightmare on Elm Street Legacy - 2010

One I hoped to enjoy but was ultimately a bit disappointed with:
Leviathan: The Making of Hellraiser and Hellbound - 2015

The edited down versions on the Arrow BR releases of Hellraiser and Hellraiser II: Hellbound were much better than the original which had a ton of rehashing and such. The edited versions are still not amazing, but it seems to be a much tighter edit.
 

Lord Dalek

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Good ones:

"Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner"
"The Shark is Still Working: The Impact and Legacy of Jaws"
"John Carpenter's The Thing: Terror Takes Shape"
"The Battle for Citizen Kane"

Ok ones:

"You Will Believe: The Cinematic Saga of Superman"

Bad ones:

"Empire of Dreams: The Making of the Star Wars Saga"
 

Tom St Jones

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Any feature-length documentary(s) or extended featurettes about THE GODFATHER film series not included with any Blu-ray or DVD release of the trilogy?
BTW I've noticed the GODFATHER releases have always been relatively light on extras.
 

ChrisOC

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Another terrific Buster Keaton documentary is The Great Buster from 2018 by Peter Bogdanovich.

There is a really nice documentary about the film Galaxy Quest called Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary from 2019 that goes into the making of the film and the social phenomena surrounding the film. If you are a fan of the original film, which I am, it is worth your time.

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography was an excellent documentary that I would recommend for anyone interested in the topic of cinematography.

In a similar vein, dealing with the creation of music for films is Score: A Film Music Documentary from 2016.


Back in the late '70s and early '80s there were a series of one hour programs broadcast on CBS that accompanied the releases of the first three Star Wars film and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I have no idea if these were ever released on any media or if they are available as supplementary material, but I thought I'd mention them in passing. I'm sure they seem pretty dated now, but back in the day they were entertaining and offered up glimpses of the films in a pre-internet era and pre-home video release of these titles. These were produced by Lucas Film and were pretty well done.

- Walter.
I've seen the first, third and fourth, and I agree, they're all excellent. I'm not familiar with Visions of Light, but I'm going to look it up.

There's another doc about cinematographers called Keepers of the Magic, which is also excellent. I also recommend:
The Battle Over Citizen Kane (from PBS's American Experience)
The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies
(not really a doc, but worth the time)
Spielberg (HBO)
 

Flashgear

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One that I enjoyed lately is the 93 minute Self Preservation Society: Making the Italian Job, included (in HD!) on the Paramount UK 50th Anniversary Blu-Ray for the Michael Caine/Noel Coward and Co. 1969 classic, the original Italian Job.
 

ChrisOC

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Turns out that Visions of Light was produced on DVD a long time ago and is out of print, but I found a copy on ebay for $15, and it should be arriving in a week or so. I look forward to it.

I love films like this, even when they're on the "marketing" side of things, like MGM: When the Lion Roars. Keep 'em coming!

Here are some more:
Moguls and Movie Stars (TCM, available on DVD)
You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story
Boffo! Tinseltown's Blockbusters and Bombs
Waking Sleeping Beauty
Dream On Silly Dreamer

The Sweatbox (unreleased but posted here and there on the web)
The Thanhouser Studio and the Birth of American Cinema (TCM, aired occasionally)
Ray Harryhausen, Special Effects Titan
 

ChrisOC

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Don't forget "Wild Bill" regarding Wellman (Standalone and one of the WB Pre-Code sets DVD), "Becoming John Ford,"(DVD, standalone + Ford At Fox box set), and "John Huston The Man, The Movies, The Maverick"(2 disc Treasure Of The Sierra Madre DVD and blu ray). Also GONE WITH THE WIND, THE MAKING OF A CLASSIC (standalone + various DVD and blu ray supplements to GWTW), which features a lot of interesting screen tests from various actors/actresses.
Wild Bill is on the DVD Forbidden Hollywood Volume 3 from Warner Archive. The set also includes The Men Who Made the Movies: William A. Wellman, apparently part of a series produced by TCM. All of the set's pre-code features were directed by Wellman.

There's also John Ford: The Man Who Invented America, a rather grandiose title but a good film.
 
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ChrisOC

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There's a multi-part doc about the RKO Studio, but there doesn't seem to be an official release, and all I can find are parts of some parts on YouTube. If anyone has a source for clean video, streaming or disc, please post it.
 

ChrisOC

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I really like the two-hour documentary “Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood.” That was a really in-depth examination of all the various problems encountered during the production of the film.
This doc is on the 50th Anniversary Blu-ray of the film, on the second disc.
 

Dick

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Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography was an excellent documentary that I would recommend for anyone interested in the topic of cinematography.

Problem: the DVD (only) release is not even anamorphic. This is a film about images...but this presentation gives us many beautful ones looking as small and lifeless as possible. Needs a Blu-ray!
 

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