Okay, maybe "documentary" isn't quite the right term for UFOs Are Real (a.k.a. Flying Saucers Are Real). To an 8-year-old convinced he was going to get abducted by aliens, it was as real as it could get.
The late 70s and early 80s were a golden age for TV and movies about Weird subjects. In Search Of..., another mainstay of syndication in my youth, provided the basic syllabus for all the stuff I love now: from the opening credits, all together now: "Extraterrestrials, Magic & Witchcraft, Missing Persons, Myths & Monsters, Lost Civilizations, Strange Phenomena."1 I think those are my six dream Jeopardy! categories.
Stuff like this was in the mainstream in a way it wouldn't be again until the mid-90s and the ascendance of The X-Files, interestingly, just when the In Search Of... generation was hitting adulthood. And even so, In Search Of... went beyond straight aliens-all-the-time into old chestnuts like Atlantis, famous people disappearances (I can actually thank the In Search Of... Wikipedia page for allowing me to learn for the first time about Michael Rockefeller).
Back to UFOs Are Real for a minute. It really hits all the classics in the UFO hit parade: Roswell, Betty and Barney Hill, Travis Walton, Project Blue Book. For a viewer in the early 80s, this movie is basically a UFOlogy primer wrapped in faded footage and bold pronouncements. It was magical. This was pre-Communion, remember, when most of these stories were on the level of urban myth and passed around mostly verbally. Sure, Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind utilized a lot of the signal constituents of the modern UFO mythos: Flight 19, Greys, even a character based on Jacques Vallée. But that was Hollywood. This was, well, real.2
I think that's where I've gotten my predilection for hearing the real story behind the myth, the novel behind the movie, the historical facts that eventually explode into the legend. I love both, the dramatization and the primary document, but to put it another way... I've never been a film or fiction buff the way I've been a history buff. You need both, but you can't have the myth without the fact.
2 Another powerful childhood memory; seeing an 8-track of John Williams's Close Encounters soundtrack in a cottage up in Maine and being sure if I played it, I'd be abducted by aliens. I had most of my alien abduction nightmares while out in the country in Maine as a child.