Criterion American Documentaries Collection

Criterion Collection/Janus Films
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13 videos in this collection

Grey Gardens
Meet Big and Little Edie Beale: mother and daughter, high-society dropouts, and reclusive cousins of Jackie Onassis. The two manage to thrive together amid the decay and disorder of their…
Salesman
A landmark American documentary, Salesman captures in vivid detail the bygone era of the door-to-door salesman. While laboring to sell a gold-embossed version of the Good Book, Paul Brennan and…
The Times of Harvey Milk
A true twentieth-century trailblazer, Harvey Milk was an outspoken human rights activist and one of the first openly gay U.S. politicians elected to public office; even after his assassination in…
The War Room
The 1992 presidential election was a triumph not only for Bill Clinton but also for the new breed of strategists who guided him to the White House--and changed the face…
Louie Bluie
Crumb director Terry Zwigoff's first film is a true treat: a documentary about the obscure country-blues musician and idiosyncratic visual artist Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong, member of the last known…
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm
In his one-of-a-kind fiction/documentary hybrid Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One, director William Greaves presides over a beleaguered film crew in New York's Central Park, leaving them to try to figure out what…
God's Country
In 1979, Louis Malle traveled into the heart of Minnesota to capture the everyday lives of the men and women in a prosperous farming community. Six years later, during Ronald…
Always for Pleasure
Les Blank's celebration of the spirit and social traditions of New Orleans, featuring Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day celebrations. It is an intense insider's portrait of New Orleans' street…
Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins
The great Texas bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins is captured brilliantly in this deeply moving film. Blank reveals Lightnin's inspiration, and features a generous helping of classic blues, including the songs, Mr.…
Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers
In this love letter to "the stinking rose," documentarian Les Blank interviews garlic fanatics of all stripes, from cooks to members of garlic appreciation societies. The film, (a lip-smacking foray…
Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists
This documentary from Les Blank follows the indomitable Gerald "The Maestro" Gaxiola, who turned to a life of prolific art making after years as an aircraft mechanic, traveling salesman, and…
Martha Graham: Dance on Film
One of the great artistic forces of the twentieth century, performer, choreographer, and teacher Martha Graham influenced dance worldwide. Criterion presents a sampling of her stunning craft, all collaborations with…
Spend It All
Blank journeys down the bayous and byways of Southwest Louisiana in this riveting portrait of the region's Cajun community.

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For Heavens Sake
Lloyd plays J. Harold Manners, a millionaire playboy who inadvertently contributes to a skid row mission (which is then named in his honor). He meets and falls in love with Hope (Jobyna Ralston), the mission pastor's daughter, when he visits the mission to protest his name being used. Under her…
Clean, Shaven
Lodge Kerrigan began his succession of utterly unique, visually and aurally dazzling character studies with the raw, ravaging Clean, Shaven. A compelling headfirst dive into the mindscape of a schizophrenic (played by the remarkable Peter Greene) as he tries to track down his daughter after he is released from an…
The King of Kings
The King of Kings is the Greatest Story Ever Told as only Cecil B. DeMille could tell it. In 1927, working with one of the biggest budgets in Hollywood history, DeMille spun the life and Passion of Christ into a silent-era blockbuster. Featuring text drawn directly from the Bible, a…
Warrendale
For his enthralling first feature, Allan King took his cameras to a home for emotionally disturbed young people. Situated inside the facility like a fly on the wall, we witness the full spectrum of emotions displayed by twelve fascinating children and the caregivers trying to nurture and guide them. The…
The Emperor Jones
Of all Paul Robeson's eleven starring film performances, by far his most iconic was his breakthrough in the big-screen adaptation of Eugene O'Neill'sThe Emperor Jones (1933). He was already a legend for his stage incarnation of Brutus Jones, a Pullman porter who powers his way to the rule of a…
Border Radio
Before carving out a niche as one of the most distinct voices in nineties American cinema, Allison Anders made her debut, alongside codirectors and fellow UCLA film school students Kurt Voss and Dean Lent, with 1987's Border Radio. A low-key, semi-improvised postpunk diary that took four years to complete, Border…
Mystery Train
Aloof teenage Japanese tourists, a frazzled Italian widow, and a disgruntled British immigrant all converge in the city of dreams--which, in Mystery Train,from Jim Jarmusch, is Memphis. Made with its director's customary precision and wit, this triptych of stories pays playful tribute to the home of Stax Records, Sun Studio,…
Why Worry?
Harold plays wealthy hypochondriac Harold van Pelham, who travels with his private nurse (Jobyna Ralston) to the fictious island of Paradiso to live blissfully in a warm climate in order to regain his health. In Paradiso, he finds himself in the middle of a revolution, which Harold assumes is being…
The Kid Brother
One of Harold Lloyd's most beloved films, The Kid Brother features the actor's performance as an effete son trying to earn the respect of his hard-nosed sheriff father and the lovely Mary Powers (Jobyna Ralston).
The Kid
Charlie Chaplin was sitting atop the movie world in 1921 when he decided (against heavy studio resistance) to make The Kid, his first dramatic comedy -- a tale of an abandoned baby adopted by an impoverished tramp and the life they build together, it offers all of the slapstick humor…
The Idle Class
A wealthy woman mistakes the Little Tramp for her alcoholic husband.
The Gold Rush
Charlie Chaplin's comedic masterwork--which charts a prospector's search for fortune in the Klondike and his discovery of romance (with the beautiful Georgia Hale)--forever cemented the iconic status of Chaplin and his Little Tramp character. Shot partly on location in the Sierra Nevadas and featuring such timeless gags as the dance…