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On the Spot

1950 20 films
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Unique Season
  • Artist in Montreal
    This short film introduces us to the "automatistes," followers of an abstract art form that developed in Montreal. The movement, initiated by Paul-Émile Borduas, is explained by the artists themselves when narrator Bruce Ruddick drops in at their cooperative studio. The film also captures painter Paterson Ewen at his home and joins the crowd at L'Échouerie, the artists' rendezvous spot. Dr. Robert Hubbard, chief curator of the National Gallery of Canada, comments on non-objective art in general and automatism in particular.
  • Camera Men
    In this film, On the Spot series host Fred Davis sets out to learn about the art of photography. Amateur, commercial, news and portrait photographers discuss the tricks of their trade when Davis pays them a visit: Louis Jacques does a photo story on pianist Oscar Peterson, while Ottawa's Yousuf Karsh explains how he clicks the shutter at famous people and, illustrating his point, snaps Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent’s portrait.
  • Christmas Comes Twice
    The Ukrainian population of Winnipeg celebrates Christmas not only on the twenty-fifth of December, but also on January seventh, with religious ceremonies, banquets, songs and concerts.
  • Dresden Story
    This film goes to Dresden, Ontario, to sample local attitudes towards racial discrimination against black people that brought this town into the news. After a round-up of the opinions of individual citizens, white and black, commentator Gordon Burwash joins two discussion panels, presenting opposite points of view. The rights and wrongs of the quarrel are left for the audience to decide.
  • Football Story
    Football Story
    1953 15 min
    This short documentary from the On the Spot series - “National Film Board’s up-to-the-minute report of what’s happening somewhere in Canada” – invites us to visit the Edmonton Eskimos football team on their home ground. Host Fred Davis introduce us to some of the team’s key players and interviews its 28-year-old coach, Darrell Royal, a firm believer in the use of moving pictures in the coaching of modern football.
  • Forest Wardens
    A story of British Columbia's vast forest industry and the measures being taken to preserve it. Fred Davis interviews men whose main concern is forest conservation. Education of the public in the need for protecting their valuable heritage against fire is well demonstrated in the activities of the Province's junior forest wardens and the South Vancouver Island Rangers.
  • Gold Rush Land
    An excursion up the Yukon River along the trail of '98 to Dawson City, part of the Klondike gold rush. We visit a prospector who has never left the Yukon and see some of the city's famous sights.
  • How to Climb a Mountain
    In this short documentary vignette, members of the Alpine Club of Canada display their skill and talk to host Fred Davis about why they climb. The film take us to a ten-thousand-foot peak in Yoho National Park, a practice slope on Grouse Mountain near Vancouver, and a steep precipice known as Devil's Leap, providing ample scope for a demonstration of mountain climbing.
  • Judo - Jinks
    How--and how not--to get thrown for a loop is demonstrated as Fred Davis visits the gymnasium of the Kano Judo Club in Hull, Québec. The story starts with a pretty girl in a park who proves that judo is not entirely a male preserve. Fred interviews Bernard Gauthier, judo instructor, and gets the history of judo as a sport and some demonstrations of the art.
  • Korea, After the War
    Fred Davis takes a look at Korea in 1954, and gives a sobering account of the realities of war as they affect the Korean population. He sees the primary industries of agriculture and fishing in ruins, towns and villages destroyed, thousands of homeless and orphaned children left to survive as best they may. At the docks of Inchon harbour, previously the landing base for United Nations troops, Davis interviews two officers of UNKRA (United Nations Korean Relief Administration) and learns about this organization's aid program in war-torn Korea.
  • Maritime Montage
    There are two subjects in this film--the cooperative movement stemming from St. Francis-Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and a rural fair at Egmont Bay, Prince Edward Island.
  • Radar Station
    This short from 1953 takes us on a guided tour of a northern Canadian radar defense post. There, Squadron Leader Bill Lee of the Royal Canadian Air Force discusses the station’s operations, revealing the little-known role of these isolated posts scattered across Canada’s Arctic.
  • Routine Flight
    This documentary short takes you on a tour of Trans-Canada Airlines’ maintenance shops in Winnipeg before taking off for a trial flight on the British-built Vickers Viscount airplane, the first propeller-turbine airliner.
  • Survival in the Bush
    This short documentary illustrates what to do when you're lost in the bush. Filmed in 1954, an NFB producer and a Native guide allow themselves to be marooned in the bush with only an axe and their wits as means of survival. They eat off the land, build their own birchbark canoe and make their way out.
  • Test Pilot
    In this short documentary, Fred Davis visits the De Havilland Aircraft factory in Toronto, circa 1954. He interviews two test pilots, talks to one of their wives, and goes for a ride in a new Beaver airplane.
  • Transpacific Flight
    This short documentary from the On the Spot series—“the National Film Board’s up-to-the-minute report of what’s happening somewhere in Canada”—invites us aboard a transpacific flight. Host Fred Davis, on his way to shoot stories in Japan and Korea, interviews the pilot, navigator and flight attendants.
  • Two Countries, One Street
    This short documentary visits the 3 Quebec border towns of Rock Island, Stanstead and Beebe, and the Vermont town of Derby Line to see how residents and officials cope with a civic life that is cut down the middle by an international boundary.
  • Vertical Flight
    A visit to Okanagan Helicopters in Vancouver, showing what Canadians are doing in the field of vertical flight.
  • Winnipeg Ballet
    Winnipeg Ballet
    1953 15 min
    Fred Davis goes backstage at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
  • The Zoo in Stanley Park
    In this documentary short, a superintendent at Vancouver's Stanley Park Zoo discusses issues related to feeding and acclimatization of birds and animals from other zones.



The first NFB series made specifically for television, On the Spot consisted of 15-minute documentary reports (which later ran 30 minutes) on different aspects of life in Canada.

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