Day of the Fight (1951)
For his first documentary, Kubrick returned to the subject of a photo-essay that he had done for “Look” magazine on the boxing champion Walter Cartier. “Day of the Fight” shows the boxer preparing for a match later that same day. The film successfully captures the anxious wait until the moment when Cartier steps into the ring. It climaxes with the fight, which Kubrick shot from different perspectives and later cut into a fast-paced montage that emphasizes the dynamics of the action. Kubrick sold “Day of the Fight” to the distributor RKO and stopped working for “Look Magazine” in order to be able to make more films. Boxing would recur as a central theme in “Killer’s Kiss.”
Flying Parade (1951)
For distribution company RKO, Kubrick shot a documentary film about two days in the life of Father Fred Stadtmueller, who uses his small airplane to commute between his scattered parishes in New Mexico. Kubrick follows the priest to the funeral of a farmhand and shows him making peace between two quarreling playmates and flying a mother and her sick child to a hospital. The close-ups of the mourners attending the funeral convey great intensity and are very much like photographic studies. Here Kubrick drew on his experience as a photographer. As a director he made the film dynamic by employing changing perspectives and a lively editing style.
The Seafarers (1953)
Kubrick’s last documentary was commissioned by the Seafarers International Union and offered him, for the first time, the opportunity to shoot a film in color. He reported on the crews of US cargo ships cruising the Atlantic and along the Gulf coast. “The Seafarers” is a plea fro the rights of men who constantly travel for their work. Kubrick refrained from telling a “story” and instead described the daily routines of the sailors: at work, in the library, in the navy infirmary, in a bar. Although “The Seafarers” is a commissioned work, the film reflects Kubrick’s distinctive style: his predilection for calculated and conscious arrangements of people in space.