Public Domain Movies

African Paradise (1941)
Black & White

This film includes footage of a mid-1920s trip to Africa taken by Martin and Osa Johnson and filmed over the years 1923-1927. Traveling by boat, train, oxcart and camel, the Johnsons, together with their African bearers and servants, make their way across Kenya to a forest near a volcanic crater on the Ethiopian border where they will live for four years. Some of the terrain is so rough that trucks containing their supplies must be pulled by men with ropes. On the way, the travelers encounter and photograph native tribes and a performance of a native dance. In addition to supplies and guns, the Johnsons carry twenty cameras--ten motion picture cameras and ten still cameras. The documentary contains footage of Mt. Kenya and of wild game, including elephants, antelope, monkeys, cheetas, birds, giraffe and zebra taken during several journeys across the Kaisoot Desert. Shots of the African animal migration of 1925 are shown. Also included are scenes of daily life at the Johnson camp and footage of the photographic studio and the surrounding countryside.

African Pygmy Thrills (1930)
Running Time: 30 mins Black & White

A film about pygmies from the 1930s.

Apartheid in South Africa (1957)
Running Time: 33 mins Black & White

Apartheid (lit. "aparthood") (pronounced [uh-pahrt-heyt, [uh-pahr-hahyt]) is an Afrikaans word for a system of racial segregation enforced through legislation by the National Party governments, who were the ruling party from 1948 to 1994, of South Africa, under which the rights of the majority black inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and white supremacy and Afrikaner minority rule was maintained. Apartheid was developed after World War II by the Afrikaner-dominated National Party and Broederbond organizations and was practiced also in South West Africa, which was administered by South Africa under a League of Nations mandate (revoked in 1966 via United Nations Resolution 2145), until it gained independence as Namibia in 1990. Racial segregation in South Africa began in colonial times under Dutch[4] and British rule. However, apartheid as an official policy was introduced following the general election of 1948. New legislation classified inhabitants into four racial groups ("native", "white", "coloured", and "Asian"),[5] and residential areas were segregated, sometimes by means of forced removals. Non-white political representation was completely abolished in 1970, and starting in that year black people were deprived of their citizenship, legally becoming citizens of one of ten tribally based self-governing homelands called bantustans, four of which became nominally independent states. The government segregated education, medical care, beaches, and other public services, and provided black people with services inferior to those of white people.[6] Apartheid sparked significant internal resistance and violence as well as a long arms and trade embargo against South Africa.[7] Since the 1950s, a series of popular uprisings and protests were met with the banning of opposition and imprisoning of anti-apartheid leaders. As unrest spread and became more effective and militarized, state organisations responded with repression and violence. Reforms to apartheid in the 1980s failed to quell the mounting opposition, and in 1990 President Frederik Willem de Klerk began negotiations to end apartheid,[8] culminating in multi-racial democratic elections in 1994, which were won by the African National Congress under Nelson Mandela. The vestiges of apartheid still shape South African politics and society. Although the official abolishment of Apartheid occurred in 1990 with repeal of the last of the remaining Apartheid laws, the end of Apartheid is widely regarded as arising from the 1994 democratic general elections being held.

Bride Of The Beast (1932)
Running Time: 57 mins Black & White
Starring: Osa and Martin Johnson
Unusual documentary filmed on location in Africa by trailblazing explorers Martin & Osa Johnson. Includes footage of ferocious animals and tribal dwellers.

Congolaise (1950)
Running Time: 67 mins Black & White

Primitive tribes chase Giant Gorilla. The expedition that shot this film was sponsored by the French Government and the Museum of Man, for the purpose of making a lasting record of the native tribes in French Equatorial Africa, and the USA had nothing to do with except show the film that was shot by the French expedition, and edited into an exploitation stinker. The expedition members consisted of a group of young French scientists. The resulting film that was taken from the extensive day-to-day footage, was chopped down to about only 68 minutes (USA time) and, while there may be unseen and untold thousands of feet on this film at the Museum of Man, the exploitation-type film that resulted was lots of native nudity, a badly-photographed gorilla hunt and the dissection of animals by the natives. Tagged by the producers as a Documentary (to get by the nudity), it got MPPA approval and code seal number 14460.

Karamoja (1955)
Running Time: 60 mins Color
Starring: William B. Treutle
This 60-minute documentary was distributed by legendary entrepreneur Kroger Babb. Hardly a subject worth exploiting in the time-honored Babb tradition, Karamoja was nonetheless promoted as a "shocking" glimpse at the "last lost tribe" of Africa. In truth, it was a fairly sedate filmed record of the isolated Karamoja tribe of the Belgian Congo. Dr. William B. Truetle and his wife managed to earn the confidence of the primitive tribesmen, and were thus allowed to film their customs and habits. And, oh yes, the women of the tribe wear very little, a fact not ignored in Babb's publicity campaign. Karamoja was released on a double bill with another documentary, Half-Way to Hell.

Lash Of The Penitents, The (1939)
Running Time: ## mins Black & White

A reporter goes to rural New Mexico to write a sensational story about the Penitentes, a secretive group of Spanish Catholics who practice flagellation as part of their religious rites. At the end, he is murdered for intruding and the police beat up likely suspects until one confesses. Bizarre exploitation documentary.

Magic Garden, The )
Black & White

Documents the people of Johannasberg, Africa.

Mating Urge (1957)
Running Time: 80 mins Color
Starring: Narrated by Art Gilmore
Funny and fascinating documentary explores the customs of marriage among native tribes. Well-made, informative and entertaining.

Mau-Mau (1955)
Running Time: 60 mins Black & White
Starring: Narrated by Chet Huntley
Narrated by newsman Chet Huntley, this documentary attempts to explain the causes of the 1950s Kenyan uprising against British rule, known as the "Mau Mau Rebellion." The film starts out well, but its objectivity is compromised by several obviously staged "attacks" that are merely excuses to show "terrified" local women having their clothes ripped off.

Serengeti Shall Not Die, The (1960)
Starring: Africa!
Taglines included: Brutal Africa in the Raw! SEE: Rampaging Beasts Charge Like Tanks! SEE: Parades of Primitive Women, Unashamed! Filmed In The Green Hell of Africa's Jungles! Hordes of Blood Drinkers! Thundering Attack of Frenzied Rhino! East of the Raging Congo! RAW! REVEALING! The Kingdom of Blood and naked enchantment... primitive unashamed customs, butchering beasts in shocking close-ups!

Wild Rapture (1950)
Running Time: 68 mins Black & White

Contains very unusual footage of native customs and African lifestyles, such as lip splitting, bug eating, gorilla and elephant hunting.