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Perspective

1955 47 films
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This TV series from the mid-1950s blended documentary and fiction to tell Canadian stories from a Canadian perspective.

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Perspective
  • Arrival
    This drama portrays an immigrant family and the mingled feelings of hope and despair that characterize their life in a strange land. An Italian wife joins her husband in a large Canadian city. After two years in Canada the husband feels his dream of a better life is close to realization, but his wife feels that differences of language and custom are insurmountable. How such feelings are dispelled by simple gestures of friendship from Canadian-born neighbours gives a heartening conclusion to the film.
  • Back into the Sun
    An illustration of the rather unique way in which the day hospital of the Allan Memorial Institute in Montréal helps patients back to mental and emotional health. Patients not requiring full hospitalization come for daytime treatment and return to their homes at night. The case presented is that of a young woman who is under severe emotional stress. Interviews with a psychiatrist and group therapy sessions reveal the root of her trouble and set her on the path to overcoming her problem.
  • The Barrier
    This feature-length drama tells two sides of the same story to illustrate the lack of communication between employer and employee. The story takes us into a fictional paper company to meet two men who, despite having similar goals, are at odds with each other. First, we see the tale unfold from the point of view of the employee, and then we get to see the same story retold through the eyes of the employer.

    Filmed in the late 1950s, The Barrier is part of the NFB's Perspective series.

  • Birth of a Giant
    This documentary short tells the story of the conception, construction and testing of the largest Canadian aircraft of its time - the Canadair Argus. A marine reconnaissance aircraft, the Argus was designed and manufactured by Canadair for the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Air Force. In its early years, it was reputedly the finest anti-submarine patrol bomber in the world.
  • Borderline
    This short film is a portrait of Nora Fenton, a 15-year-old girl who is sent to a home for problem teens because of her persistent defiance of parental authority and self-injurious behavior. Typifying the problems of emotional adjustment experienced by many adolescents, this story of conflict and rebellion shows how understanding, affection and firm parental guidance are the factors most needed in helping teens weather their most turbulent years.
  • The Cage
    This short documentary from 1956 examines the phenomenon of "the gilded cage." Are the strain and tension worth the lifestyle a well-paid job provides? As we follow the story of Hugh Martin, a capable executive caught on the treadmill of our competitive society, we're forced to conclude that there must be another way. A film still as relevant today as the day it was made.
  • Canadians Abroad
    This short documentary from 1956 catches up with several talented Canadians who have found a home in the entertainment or arts scenes of London and Paris. Among them are Toronto-born Beverley Baxter, a baronet and MP who claims that London has a history of being invaded (first the Romans, now the Canadians), and then-aspiring novelist Mordecai Richler, who feels he has a better chance of making a living in England than he does back home.
  • Capital City
    This short documentary presents Ottawa through the eyes of a veteran tourist guide who knows all the answers, from the height of the Peace Tower to the reason the Rideau Canal was built.
  • Chair of Gold
    In this film, Jack Scott, a Vancouver newspaper columnist, visits Bolivia, South America, to bring us a report on conditions in that country and on the technical assistance program undertaken in the late 1950s by member countries of the United Nations, including Canada. We hear from Canada's Dr. Hugh Keenleyside, who headed a U.N. Commission, and from specialists from other countries who are helping to create a new economy for Bolivia.
  • Crossroads
    This sensitive drama tells the story of a couple, Roy and Judy, and the reactions they encounter when they announce their intention to marry, reactions complicated by the fact that Roy is black and Judy is white.
  • The Deserter
    This short drama highlights the work of the Family Welfare Service in its compassionate tale of a husband who abandons his wife and children. Part of the Perspective series.
  • Double Verdict
    This short drama tells the story of Andy Potter, a successful lawyer torn between 2 worlds - the world of reality and that of his own dreams and ambitions. With a loving wife, many supportive friends and a great career, there was no apparent reason for him to wish to end his life. Yet and still, one by one, the symptoms of schizophrenia took their toll.
  • Encounter at Trinity
    The big whale round-up at Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, is brought to the screen with a realism not often found in fish stories. Cameras are on hand to record the annual sea drama as herds of pothead whales are driven inshore by fishing boats and killed in shallow water. There is tense excitement as, their escape cut off, the marine monsters fight for their lives. Reporter Fred Davis is told about the commercial uses of whale meat and whale products, particularly in mink farming.
  • Escape
    This film indulges in some playful lampooning of the self-deluding tactics of the escape artist. A glib-tongued exponent of escapism, delivering a public lecture, illustrates his contentions with filmed episodes that show how clever people are at running away from reality. The mirror he holds up for us reflects some familiar faces; not our own, of course, but of people we all know.
  • Fighter Wing
    In this short documentary, Fred Davis introduces us to Canadian Air Force operations in Zweibrucken, West Germany. Follow Green Section as they perform drills and explain what it takes to be a fighter pilot.

    Part of the Perspective series.
  • Fires of Envy
    This short film is a dramatization of Canadian author W.O. Mitchell's penetrating story about the racial prejudice encountered by a Polish immigrant farmer in a rural Saskatchewan community. Presented with the incisiveness characteristic of Mitchell's Jake and the Kid radio series, this film story employs homespun events of a farming community to lay bare some universal truths about the unthinking discrimination practiced against a man who is different from his English-speaking fellow farmers.
  • First Novel
    In this short 1958 fiction film, a young man gives up a steady job to tackle the uncertain task of writing for a living. In telling his experiences, this film conveys a general picture of the literary field in Canada and the incentives it offers, or fails to offer, the creative writer. Opinions, encouraging and otherwise, are expressed by a Canadian publisher, a television producer, and friends of the young writer who want to see him make his mark.
  • Go to Blazes
    This short documentary from the Perspective television series examines the dangerous practices that can cause tragic and costly fires. The film follows Inspector Joe Fletcher as he investigates fires that have happened, are happening, or could happen. It shows how frequently fires are actually crimes of carelessness, which, if prevented, could have saved life and property.
  • Haiti
    This short film from the Perspective series highlights social and economic development in Haiti circa 1957. It depicts customs and traditions used to pass along the history of a people, and offers a look into their daily lives — lives that looks very different from their experiences today.
  • The Happy Fugitive
    This short drama profiles a fugitive who skipped out on parole 28 years ago and now finds that he must finish his prison term. The film is based on a case from the files of the John Howard Society, whose mission is to advocate for humane prison reform and provide practical assistance to prisoners and ex-prisoners.
  • The Hoax
    A small-town museum finds itself the centre of suspenseful melodrama when an enterprising reporter plunges it into local headlines over the authenticity of one of its prize exhibits, a human skull. An act of diplomacy saves the fate of the museum's fund-raising campaign and the brash young reporter learns a lesson.
  • Howard
    This documentary short presents the dilemma of a teenager caught in the crossfire of adult opinions and youthful enthusiasm. Howard, just out of high school, is slated for college and a career as a chemist. But he first wants to embark on a summer-long, foot-loose tour of Canada with a school pal. This plan, however, meets with strong resistance from his socially conformist parents. The film's depiction of Howard's resultant confusion illustrates the inner conflicts that can arise in teenagers when every carefree impulse is rationalized out of existence.
  • In This Dark World
    This film introduces a remarkable blind woman, Louise Cowan, who, as supervisor of home teaching services in Ontario for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, helps others adjust to their disabilities. The film accompanies Miss Cowan on several visits to blind pupils in an Ontario community and shows how, through sympathy, encouragement, scolding and cajolery, she lifts them out of their despair to a more self-reliant acceptance of their sightless state.
  • Island Romance
    This short fictional film features the picturesque seaside landscape of Prince Edward Island as the setting for a summer romance between a girl from Winnipeg and a young fisherman from North Rustico, PEI. The young couple visits historic and scenic sites such as Government House in Charlottetown and Cavendish, of Green Gables fame. The film is a classic summertime romance and a nostalgic visit to the delightfully sun-soaked PEI of the past.
  • Islands of the Frozen Sea
    This short documentary offers a look at the life forms on the Queen Elizabeth Islands within the Arctic Circle. Even in this frigid zone of icebergs and glaciers a surprising variety of wildlife and vegetation is seen. Writings from the logbooks of early explorers provide vivid descriptions of scenes as arresting to them in their century as to today's explorer.
  • Joe and Roxy
    This short is the second installment in a series of three dramatic films on adolescence, this one dealing with teenage romance. Joe and Roxy, at 15 and 16 respectively, face more than the average teenage problems. Roxy, a child of divorced parents, tries to keep her illusions about love and life alive despite her upbringing, while Joe unsuccessfully seeks guidance and direction from his less-than-capable father.
  • The Legendary Judge
    This short fiction film profiles the controversial figure of Judge Matthew Bailie Begbie, who was tasked with bringing law and order to the gold-mining camps of British Columbia more than 150 years ago. After his death, Begbie’s fame grew, and he subsequently came to be known as “the Hanging Judge”; historians argue about his methods and legacy to this day. This film was produced in 1958 and may reflect outdated or even offensive stereotypes of that era. It must be seen in this historical context.
  • Log Drive
    This short documentary brings to the screen a great seasonal event in the Québec spruce forest—the log drive. In lyrics set to a sprightly tune, ballad singer describes this annual spectacle. A vast aggregation of logs moves downstream on a river, spurred by dynamite and sharp-tipped cant hooks, tossed and twirled by the boots of leaping men.
  • The Longer Trail
    A story about a young Indigenous man from a reserve near Calgary and the problems he faces when he finds himself thrust into the world of the white man. Joe Lonecloud contracts tuberculosis and is taken to the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital in Edmonton. There he learns that he will never be able to return to the vigorous activity of the outdoors. In learning a trade and getting a job he encounters prejudice, which makes his adjustment all the more difficult.
  • Man of America
    This film brings a report from Jack Scott, a Vancouver newspaper columnist, about a United Nations-sponsored migration program in Bolivia in which icampesinos r--tin miners of the Andes mountains--are being moved from the desolate Altiplano to more fertile lowlands. We hear most of the story from one of the miners who describes the skepticism with which his people first met the ideas and what it eventually came to mean to them in terms of new dwellings, land to cultivate, and work to support their families.
  • Monkey on the Back
    This documentary drama, based on the real-life experiences of a drug addict, not only portrays the terrible consequences of the misuse of narcotics but presents the general problem of addiction and, particularly, of the addict as an individual. Dick Smith lost everything valued most in life because of his craving for the narcotics which finally killed him. In relating the story of his attempts to break the habit, the film reveals the essential nature of addiction as both a social and a human problem.
  • The Nativity Cycle
    The Christmas story, presented in the form of a medieval York mystery, or miracle play, by a cast of junior school children. They follow the text, in verse and prose, used by strolling players five centuries ago when a miracle play meant the portrayal of the mystery of Christ's birth. The story is divided into scenes, with costumes and settings patterned after biblical times. Between acts a children's "angel choir" sings familiar Christmas carols to introduce each scene.
  • Neptune Mission
    Royal Canadian Air Force submarine hunters--Neptune aircraft--patrol the Atlantic, and in a realistic training exercise lead Royal Canadian Navy destroyers to an "enemy" submarine.
  • Night Children
    This short drama presents the story of a case worker with a Children's Aid Society and the children she helps. Working round the clock, the Society receives appeals of every sort. The film shows how the Society follows through in the case of a little girl found wandering alone on downtown streets at night and in other cases of children abandoned, uncared for, the victims of their environment.
  • Our Northern Citizen
    This short documentary illustrates the impact of new developments on the Inuit of Baffin Island, as well as the local reaction to the decision to move the settlement of Aklavik across the Mackenzie River.

    Please note that this is an archival film that makes use of the word “Eskimo,” an outdated and offensive term. While the origin of the word is a matter of some contention, it is no longer used in Canada. The term was formally rejected by the Inuit Circumpolar Council in 1980 and has subsequently not been in use at the NFB for decades. This film is therefore a time-capsule of a bygone era, presented in its original version. The NFB apologizes for the offence caused.
  • Pierrot in Montreal
    In this documentary short, Canadian mime Guy Hoffman, acting as Pierrot, introduces us to the art of pantomime. The streets of Montreal and the Belmont Amusement Park are the backdrop for the traditional story of Pierrot, who loses his love, Columbine, to Harlequin.
  • Profile of a Problem Drinker
    This short film is a telling portrait of the discourse about and treatment of alcohol addiction in the middle of the 20th century. In a fictional setting, the film examines the insecurities and inner motivations that cause the protagonist to lean on alcohol. His job and home life are threatened by his addiction, and the doctor to whom he finally turns explains the medical and other resources available to him.
  • Railroad Town
    This short documentary is a delightful trip back to an era in which railroad was king. The small community of Melville, Saskatchewan, is a railroad town. Long-time CBC host Fred Davis visits with various railway workers and learns about the operation of one of the vital service stations which keep the Canadian National Railway running smoothly.
  • Sable Island
    This short documentary profiles the uniquely cloistered wildlife of Sable Island, known as the “Atlantic graveyard” due to its inhospitable conditions. Barren sands and endless gales proved too much for human settlement on this island off the coast of Nova Scotia. Only a small group of researchers and maintenance people occupy the island; horses run wild, seals and birds multiply profusely, and the Ipswich sparrow has found a fruitful breeding ground for itself. Sable Island provides a perfect opportunity to observe nature in an untouched, organic laboratory.
  • Saskatchewan Traveller
    The film follows a grocery salesman as he calls on merchants in small prairie communities, showing some of the people and problems he encounters. His time-tested techniques are contrasted with those of his brash young understudy.
  • School for the Stage
    The Perspective camera follows some Canadian students as they pursue acting careers by studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England.
  • The Tenth Frontier
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  • Test Pilot
    A suspenseful story by Arthur Hailey about the excitement and hazards of being an aircraft test pilot.
  • The Ticket
    Joe Faber, imprisoned at the age of nineteen on a charge of theft with violence, learns a trade and earns his parole half-way through his sentence. Through the John Howard Society he finds a job in a machine shop and all goes well until he is suddenly confronted by the man he had robbed. He accuses Joe of being an escaped convict and, discouraged, Joe quits his job. Fortunately, with the support of the John Howard Society and his employer he is able to overcome this setback and return to his new life.
  • Train 406
    This short documentary offers a step-by-step account of a fast freight train on a run from Toronto to Halifax, with glimpses of the vast amount of organization necessary in the operation of a country-wide transportation network.
  • Western Brigade
    This short dramatic film illustrates a cooperative program of fire protection that was carried out across Alberta in the late 1950s. It presents the problems inherent in a voluntary fire brigade, as well as the everyday heroes who step up and get the job done. The film is an entertaining look at how a crew that was once considered to be the joke of the town can evolve into the best fire brigade in the West!
  • Wolfe and Montcalm
    This short film recreates the tense hours before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, and then the battle itself in which both generals, Wolfe and Montcalm, were fatally wounded.

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This TV series from the mid-1950s blended documentary and fiction to tell Canadian stories from a Canadian perspective.

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