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Shorties we would like to see on TCM…

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#1 Jlewis

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Posted 21 June 2016 - 12:56 PM

One of these days TCM should salute the National Film Board of Canada.

 

This is a popular one over the years, released back in 1966 and a staple in public schools (on 16mm) throughout the seventies and into the eighties. Not much attention on VHS, but Criterion had a special DVD edition made once.

 



#2 Jlewis

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 04:05 PM

We have all seen (well, most movie and history buffs at least have seen) footage of New York's World Fair of 1939-40 in either Technicolor 35mm or Kodachrome 16mm.

How about Chicago's '33-34 Century of Progress?

Remember that Technicolor's three strip system only arrived to replace the older two-strip system in 1932 and this was shot in late 1933. The Plymouth auto tests were shot in black and white, probably at a different time than the rest of the footage.

 




Here is a home movie in Kodacolor 16mm that begins with the famous Sinclair Dinosaurs at the fair before moving on to family pictures taken at home. Unlike the Sinclair dinos shown at the New York's World Fair in 1964, but like Walt Disney's dinos shown in a ride at the same fair and later moved to Disneyland and EPCOT, these are quite "animatronic".


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#3 HomesoulM

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Posted 07 December 2015 - 01:30 AM

I learn something every day. I wished those travel shorts are on DVD.


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#4 Jlewis

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 08:17 AM

Awwww...thanks for the comments, TopBilled.

 

 

Yesterday I became a total nerd and posted a list of Coronet Films on wikipedia too: https://en.wikipedia...f_Coronet_Films

 

I kept this one separate from the main article here (started by others, but added by me during the past year or so): https://en.wikipedia...i/Coronet_Films

 

Coronet was like the 16mm counterpart to Republic Pictures in the thirties and forties: stuff was kept on budget for a while, but they later had a "golden age" in the '70s and '80s. Prior to that time, their claim to fame was as an early '40s producer of 16mm full color documentaries shown in public schools, but... alas... by the '50s and '60s, they also became The Boring Classroom Film Company which could put you to sleep with their VERY dry lectures, bombardment of maps and charts and silly recreations of "costumed" history with no voices... just narration.

 

On the other hand... Britannica was The Glossy One with grade A production values and plenty of "making us think" commentary.

 

In fact, mighty MGM tried to buy them when they decided to tap into the school film market in the late 1950s, but William Benton didn't want to merge with a Hollywood company.

 

It would be fun if TCM decided to give us a Breakfast with Britannica on Sunday mornings instead of another round of PERVERSION FOR PROFIT.


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#5 TopBilled

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 10:46 AM

In response to the previous mention of Britannica 16mm films on the travelogue list, I did manage to add an article to wikipedia on the subject. Hopefully it is acceptable enough to stay there... already folks have been correcting my spelling boo-boos in editing. I am hardly great at lengthy historical article summaries.

 

However, if you go down the alphabetic list of titles, column #4 will list links to videos on the Britannica site, Internet Archive or youtube.

 

https://en.wikipedia...ritannica_Films

 

Rewatching some of these online, I am reminded of stuff I had looooooong forgotten since my childhood. One 1953 title on the American Revolution is one I must have seen in... the 3rd grade?... and completely forgot until I saw it again fairly recently. 

Interesting how some of these things can jog your memory. And usually emotions associated with such memories. 

 

Thanks for adding this valuable information to wikipedia.


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"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#6 Jlewis

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Posted 03 November 2015 - 10:40 AM

In response to the previous mention of Britannica 16mm films on the travelogue list, I did manage to add an article to wikipedia on the subject. Hopefully it is acceptable enough to stay there... already folks have been correcting my spelling boo-boos in editing. I am hardly great at lengthy historical article summaries.

 

However, if you go down the alphabetic list of titles, column #4 will list links to videos on the Britannica site, Internet Archive or youtube.

 

https://en.wikipedia...ritannica_Films

 

Rewatching some of these online, I am reminded of stuff I had looooooong forgotten since my childhood. One 1953 title on the American Revolution is one I must have seen in... the 3rd grade?... and completely forgot until I saw it again fairly recently. What jogged my memory was a scene of a broken window intermixed with close-ups of a Christmas tree. I wasn't thinking of The War when watching it in school, but thinking somebody might break my window while I was occupied in some sort of holiday entertainment. Also the opening shots of Paul Revere without him actually shown looked eerily familiar to me after not seeing it since, say, Gerald Ford was president. (I think we all saw tons of this stuff going into the Bicentennial year.)

 

Others still fun to watch include THE AGING OF LAKES, showing how much worse pollution was in 1970 than today... or was it? Today, things may be worse with many politicians insisting that global warming is a myth. In any case, the school children of that era were bombarded with 16mm instructionals like this one. Also fun seeing all of the old Chevy Impalas on display in one key urban scene.

 

THE LOTTERY is another I might have seen in school too... and one viewed on the Britannica site. Nice "gotcha" ending, but one I sensed coming because I probably watched it before.

 

It is also fun comparing and contrasting school films made in different eras. For example, a typical geography film made in 1941, GROWTH OF THE CITIES, with its bombardment of maps...

 

https://archive.org/...ies_20_33_09_00

 

... with one covering the THE MIDWEST in 1968 that incorporates interviews of everyday residents and cinéma vérité camerawork

 

https://archive.org/...landOfTheNation

 

A lot had changed over the decades in what the kiddies watched.


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#7 Jlewis

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Posted 17 October 2015 - 04:04 PM

In response to TopBilled’s suggestion of a James FitzPatrick Traveltalk Fest on the other thread, might I suggest…?

 

 

A festival of vintage travelogues not shown on TCM

 

I covered some of Warner Brothers’ travelogues in the below post, but here is an assortment of riches from other different companies. Most of these I have NOT seen, but read reviews of in ol’ Film Daily, Motion Picture Herald and BoxOffice magazine scans. They may be rotting away… somewhere… in film vaults.

 

Alexandria (Burton Holmes Travel Picture / April 10, 1921)

Paramount (Famous Players-Lasky)- Burton Holmes

bw & silent-8+m

 

Burton Holmes was the father of American travelogues, with footage stretching pretty far back. His 1914-22 shorts for Paramount were the most popular shorties of this kind during the silent era and these were often reissued by popular demand… and prompted rival companies to jump on the bandwagon by providing new exotic “scenic” each week. This Egyptian trip is part of a cluster that UCLA has in their archives.

 

Rheims (PrizmaColor Scenic / June 1921)

Prizma Film- William Van Doren Kelley & Charles Raleigh; camera: Otto C. Gilmore

color & silent- 10m (approx.)

 

PrizmaColor was Technicolor’s biggest rival during their infant years 1918-23 and their process was quite good for its time, if generally too expensive for features. Lots of short travelogues and novelties running under two reels (20 minutes) were cranked out before the company suffered economic woes. Sadly not many of these survive today, but this UCLA print shown in 1991 at a preservation festival shows France post-war with many buildings not yet restored from their ruined state.

 

Pathé Review 05-28 (Pathé Review / January 2, 1928)

Pathé- editor: S. Barret McCormick

part color & silent-10+m

 

This delightfully prolific film “magazine” ran from 1919 through 1930 and was usually highlighted by a stenciled (frame by frame) color sequence of some faraway locale. Sometimes the process looked… almost as good as… early Technicolor and other times… well… “stenciled”. The Blue Nile valley in Egypt is presented in this fashion here, along with black and white segments of equal interest: Sid Smith at home Lake Geneva (Wisconsin) and Virginia May sculpting dinosaurs out of clay and animating them for the camera as "monsters of the past". Every Pathé Review short featured something of interest and I always love the clever and amusing title cards in those I’ve been lucky to see.

 

Wildlife of the Veldt (Magic Carpet of Movietone / May 9, 1931)

Fox- Truman Talley

bw-8+m

 

This visit with the furry residents of Kruger National Park in South Africa boasts the sophisticated on location sound recording that Fox Movietone News made famous. Technicolor cameras returned here in 1947 for a Movietone Adventure “update” Jungle Closeups.

 

Fallen Empire (Vagabond Adventure / July 27, 1931)

Amadee J. Van Beuren-RKO-Pathé- Elmer Clifton / bw-9+m

 

Tour of Haiti with pre-code bare-breasted ladies smiling at the camera crew. This enjoyable “retro” entry is actually available on DVD with Alpha’s The Fantastic World of William Cameron Menzies.

 

Laughing With Medbury In Mandalay (Laughing With Medbury / June 3, 1932)

Columbia (Walter A. Fuller, producer)- John P. Medbury; editor: David Miller

bw-10+m

 

This 1931-35 series seems low-budget, but Columbia needed a travelogue series of their own to compete with the other studios… and it helped to have a sense of humor. Contemporaries to this include The Road to Mandalay (Newman Traveltalk, Vitaphone-Warner Brothers 1931) and In Far Mandalay (Fox, Magic Carpet 1934). Burma got quite a workout as a tourist trap during this period.

 

Krakatoa (Special / April 23, 1933)

Joe Rock (distributed by Educational & Fox)- narrator: Graham McNammee

part c (Multicolor)-23+m

 

Academy Award Winner (Novelty) partly shot in Multicolor, chronicles both the 1883 volcanic eruption and life here since. Interesting tidbit: the producer did not officially receive his Oscar for several decades because his company went out of business before awards time and he had trouble claiming "authorship".

 

Italian Caprice (Musical Mood / October 18, 1934)

Audio Productions/First Division- Robert C. Bruce; music: Rosario Bourdon

Technicolor-10+m

 

This may have been the first time Venice and other parts of Italy were shot in the 3-strip Technicolor system. UCLA has a copy in its vaults.

 

Tracking The Explorers (Adventures of the Newsreel Cameraman / February 8, 1935)

Fox (Truman Talley, producer)- Lew Lehr

bw-10+m

 

Not exactly a travelogue in the strict sense, but boasting plenty of exotic locales from Mongolia to east Africa. This is a “best of” portrait of the real Indiana Jones explorers of the twenties and thirties: including Roy Chapman Andrews, Martin & Osa Johnson and “bring ‘em back alive” Frank Buck

 

Going Places with Lowell Thomas #13 (Going Places / August 18, 1935)

Universal (Allyn Butterfield, producer)- Charles E. Ford

bw-9+m

 

Not sure how many of these survive from Universal’s omnibus series, directed by a leading newsreel and documentary filmmaker Charles Ford (who died too young) and hosted by the familiar Fox Movietone News host and ‘50s Cinerama commentator Lowell Thomas. (This was the same guy who got his picture on many popular View Masters that kiddies enjoyed in the Eisenhower Era. Universal later curiously replaced him on this particular series with rival commentator Graham McNamee.) Typical entries cover three destinations in one reel… for the price of one as they say. Here we learn all about museum restorations, including religious structures in the southwest US and the Akeley African Hall of stuffed mammals at American Museum of Natural History (NYC).

 

Rube Goldberg’s Travelgab (Paragraphic / October 13, 1938)

Paramount- Leslie M. Roush

bw-9+m

 

Cartoonist Rube Goldberg takes on New York City from a rather unique perspective.

 

Children Of Japan (Children Of Many Lands / © October 15, 1940)

Electrical Research Products Inc. (ERPI)- Hugh Borton; narrator: James A. Brill

bw (16mm)-11+m

 

It is interesting to compare this pre-war (filmed 1938) ERPI Classroom title with the below mentioned Japan: Miracle of Asia, made long after ERPI morphed into Encyclopædia Britannica Films… and long after the nation got itself involved in a war with the United States.

See here: https://archive.org/...pan_19_20_39_00

 

Cajuns Of The Teche (Panoramic / August 13, 1942)

Columbia- André De La Varre

bw-9+m

 

Before becoming Warner Bros. top travelogue director, André De La Varre provided a series of shorties for Columbia including this intimate look at Louisiana, the first of an aborted "Quaint Folks" series.

 

Fantasy of Siam (Movietone Adventure / January 3, 1947)

20th Century Fox (Edmund Reek, producer)- Valeska Weidig; narrator: George Carson Putnam

Technicolor -8+m

 

Fox’s Movietone Adventure series was a successor to its earlier (often black and white) Magic Carpet of Movietone. What makes this particular color short interesting is that it was roughly shot the same year (1946) as the studio’s fictional Anna and the King of Siam, starring Rex Harrison and Irene Dunne.

 

Cross Section of Central America: Guatemala (Earth & Its People / August 1, 1948)

United World (Universal-International)- Louis De Rochemont

bw (16mm)-20+m

 

In the late forties, Universal decided to tap into the 16mm school film market with its United World subsidiary company. With the cooperation of Louis de Rochemont of the “March of Time” series, it decided to do an in-depth series of travelogues that ventured further than most films of the period. Although economically shot in black and white at a time when most travel journeys were seen in color, these were so popular in schools that they were reissued in 35mm for theater release in 1951-53.

 

People Along the Mississippi (February 21, 1952)

Encyclopædia Britannica Films- John Barnes, Gordon Weisenborn (co-director) & Clarence W. Sorensen

bw (16mm)-21+m

 

In 1950, Encyclopædia Britannica hired a radio and stage veteran John Barnes to direct some of their most prestigious classroom 16mm documentaries. Among these was this portrait of the Mississippi that begs for a better print than the Internet Archive has available (https://archive.org/...the_mississippi ). A boy sends a toy boat into Minnesota waters and it winds up in New Orleans. (This film invites comparison to a more popular 1966 National Film Board of Canada color short featuring a wooden Indian toy, Paddle to the Sea. ) Not so much a “this-place-is-called” travelogue, but a narrated story of early cinéma vérité that, according to historian Geoff Alexander, may be one of the earliest school films to touch on the sticky subject of pre-civil rights era race relations. In a key scene, Paul must stop playing with his darker-skinned friend on account of peer pressure. In 1953, another John Barnes production for Encyclopædia Britannica, The Living City (profiling Chicago and other cities, made available to theaters in 35mm) was nominated for an Academy Award.

 

Vesuvius Express (Fox CinemaScope Special / December 16, 1953)

20th Century Fox- Otto Lang; camera: Charles Clark

color CinemaScope (& stereophonic sound)-15+m

 

This Oscar nominee has the widescreen cameras follow a train ride through Italy. Warner Brothers and Columbia started pumping out ‘Scope travelogues during the next year or so (i.e. Columbia’s Wonders Of Manhattan, a “Musical Travelark”, seemed a better fit to booked with the widescreen feature Picnic instead of a black and white Three Stooges comedy). Universal-International made use of the cheaper Vistarama format, while Paramount introduced their own superior process with our next shortie…

 

VistaVision Visits Norway (VistaVision Special / October 14, 1954)

Paramount- James Fitzpatrick

color VistaVision-17m

 

It is a pity that Paramount didn’t put this on their DVDs for White Christmas, the feature this travelogue was shown with in theaters.

 

Samoa (People & Places / July 16, 1956)

Walt Disney- Ben Sharpsteen; camera: Herb & Trudy Knapp

Technicolor-26+m

 

This Academy Award nominee is among Disney’s Forgotten Films… at least until Leonard Maltin decides to dust if off for a TCM Vault Disney lineup. Although the People & Places series (1952-59) enjoyed a successful afterlife in classrooms during the sixties through early eighties and fleeting interest on the Disney Channel right about the same time schools and libraries began chucking their 16mm projectors for VHS, it appears that the mighty corporation would rather have EPCOT represent its rose-colored perception of the world instead of these ol’ travelogue “thangs”. To date, none made the DVD cut, probably because Roy Disney Jr. struggled enough just to get the True Life Adventures on disc… and these only sold to geeks like me.

 

Japan: Miracle in Asia (© September 16, 1963)

Encyclopædia Britannica Films- William Deneen

color (16mm)-30+m

 

Many of the EB films (called ERPI in their pre-1943 period before joining the popular encyclopedia franchise) made for schools between 1929 and 1995 (by which time VHS long replaced 16mm film) are still entertaining and timeless. Director William Deneen later headed Columbia’s very successful school film company Learning Corporation of America and was particularly skilled in relating foreign cultures to American children. This impressive take on Japanese manufacturing, transportation and family life has not one second of boredom. The cameras are literally everywhere in homes and factories. You can view it here: https://archive.org/...le_in_asia_1963

 

The Two Faces of Kenya (Universal Color Adventure / November 1966)

Universal (Norman Gluck, producer)- Ed Bartsch; script: William O'Connell; narrator: Jim Branch

Eastmancolor-10+m

 

Universal kept a surprisingly consistent run of travelogue and sports shorts in movie theaters as late as 1972, all shown before its main features along with a newsreel (at least until 1967) and the latest Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy or Beary Family cartoon from the Walter Lantz studio. These were generally well reviewed at the time and even had individual advertising posters. This documentary contrasts modern Nairobi with the older agricultural cultures… and includes the usual quota of giraffes, lions and so forth.

 

Building a House (African Village Life / © June 13, 1967)

International Film Foundation (Julien Bryan, producer)- Hermann Schlenker

color (16mm)-7+m

 

Part of a series shot in Mali in 1965 that was shown in many public schools on 16mm so that children in the United States can experience everyday life in a land that lacked TV sets and grocery stores. Other typical titles included Building a Boat and Fishing on the ****.

 

The Middle Atlantic Region (U.S. Geography Series / 1976)

McGraw-Hill- John Wilkman

color (16mm)-18+m

 

The 1970s may not be considered a golden age for theatrical short subjects (Sheriff Hoot Kloot anyone?), but it was a golden age for 16mm school films. This travelogue gets considerable attention by Geoffrey Alexander in Academic Films for the Classroom: A History because it is not the usual animated maps and landmarks piece, but a cross selection of people interviews that hardly aim to please tourists. One taxi driver in New York complains about racism impacting his business, while a Philadelphia supervisor has to deal with a garbage dump crisis.


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#8 Jlewis

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 02:14 PM

… or at least I would like to see… and, even better, see put out on DVD. Figured I should start a new thread for everybody to join in with their requests.

 

Who knows? Maybe somebody in charge of scheduling actually reads this. Maybe…?

 

Here are TEN Warner Brothers shorties (out of 3900+ released theatrically, both animated and “live action”) that TCM should have no issues airing as long as they can find a good print. (I posted a blog on some of these suggestions a couple years ago on the other forum.)

 

Blaze Busters

A Warner-Vitaphone Novelty (sepiatone, 9+ minutes) released December 30, 1950

Robert Youngson; narrator: Dwight Weist

 

The history of fire fighting in the United States as seen in old vintage newsreels, colored in sepia to great effect. Leonard Maltin loved this one enough to mention it in his THE GREAT MOVIE SHORTS (1972), published when prints were still in active circulation.

 

The director, Robert Youngson, became famous for reviving the popularity of Laurel & Hardy shortly after one’s passing with THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMEDY (a rare documentary feature that actually made a substantial profit). Earlier he cranked out a steady stream of nostalgic “scrapbook” docu-shorts for Warner Brothers between 1948 and 1956, along with one feature FIFTY YEARS BEFORE YOUR EYES. Among these were two Oscar winners and four nominees… mostly ignored during TCM’s 21 Days Of February. Nonetheless, I think five of them get shown in rotation on TCM: MAGIC MOVIE MOMENTS, SOME OF THE GREATEST, GADGETS GALORE, WHEN THE TALKIES WERE YOUNG and I NEVER FORGET A FACE. Yet another (curiously not aired) is available on DVD as an “extra” with IT’S A GREAT FEELING (on the TCM Doris Day Collection set). This is the brilliant SPILLS AND CHILLS that showcases dare devil stunts from the 1910s through ‘30s. (I have seen the Doris Day feature once and this “extra” about 30 times.) Apparently most, if not all, of Youngson's shorts were released on VHS in the 1980s through Video Yesteryear, but good luck in finding any of those on ebay.

 

Wild Wings

A Pepper Pot (bw, 11+ minutes) released January 24, 1936

Donald R. Dickey; narrator: Gayne Whitman

 

Edited in mid 1935, this vintage "Pepper Pot" highlights rare feathered residents in Layson Island, Hawaii. It was made during a boom period in wildlife documentaries, thanks to the Oscar-winning success of British import THE PRIVATE LIFE OF GANNETS and the Horace & Stacy Woodard's "Battle for Life" and "Struggle to Live" series released by Educational-Fox and Van Beuran-RKO. UCLA has copies of this one; prints were also quite popular as school insructionals in the forties and fifties.

 

Alpine Glory

A Warnercolor Scope Gem (CinemaScope, 9+ minutes) released August 3, 1957

Cedric Francis (producer)- André De La Varre; script: Owen Crump; music: Howard Jackson; narrator: Marvin Miller

 

Any widescreen travelogue (and WB produced quite a few starting in 1954) would be well-worth dusting off in this era of bigger screen home-viewing, especially one by Andre de la Varré. I picked this one since it features the some of the same Austrian terrain covered in THE SOUND OF MUSIC and am a bit curious how it compares with Robert Wise. Also it features, as narrator, the Mighty Marvin Miller of radio and UPA cartoon fame.

 

Thunder Beach

A Warnercolor Scope Gem (CinemaScope, 9+m) released June 23, 1956

Cedric Francis (producer)- Jack Glenn; narrator: Joe King

 

Another of a series of "Scope Gems" Warner produced. Unlike the others, this one is not a travelogue... but a visit to Daytona, Florida. Credited to Jack Glenn and narrated by Joe King, I'm quite curious to see if any cameras were destroyed in this effort to bring drag-racing to the anamorphic screen.

 

Berlin Today

E.M. Newman Traveltalk (bw, 9+ minutes) released August 31, 1932

 

Malayan Jungles

E.M. Newman Colortour (Cinecolor, 9+m) released February 5, 1938

Edited by Ira Genet; narrator: Howard Claney

 

It is fair to say that the E.M. Newman travelogues edited at Warner’s Vitaphone facilities in Brooklyn were not quite in the same league as MGM’s glossy Technicolor offerings with Jimmy FitzPatrick, since these were exclusively in black and white until 1936 before switching to cheap Cinecolor. Yet the few titles shown on TCM (LITTLE JOURNEYS TO GREAT MASTERS, HIGH SPOTS OF THE FAR EAST and a few of the “See America First” entries) are still highly entertaining and educational.

 

The entry on Germany shot just before Hitler took over should have considerable historical interest. Ever the animal lover, Newman makes sure that not just the human residents are profiled. We get to see German Shepherds learn police work with their masters.

 

Among the “Colortours” is a jungle adventure featuring cute critters like the Malayan Chevrotain (Bambi in miniature) and some native sports in action.

 

King of the Everglades

A Technicolor Sports Parade (9+ minutes) released September 14, 1946

André De La Varre & Ross Allen; music: Rex Dunn

 

Good ol’ Ross Allen… you know I just can’t ignore him here. TCM features him in one of FitzPatrick’s more (unintentionally) humorous MGM Traveltalks, GLIMPSES OF FLORIDA (1941), in which he milks the rattlers and wrestles his pet gator. (You know… the one usually shown before or after WHERE THE BOYS ARE?) Yet several studios covered either his Reptile Institute or his wilderness bobcat ropings in Coral Springs and the Everglades. Three Paramount “Grantland Rice Sportlights” (sometimes with Ted Husing narrating) were released previously: one also titled KING OF THE EVERGLADES (but released in glorious black & white in 1935), CATCHING TROUBLE (1936, spoofed on Mystery Science Theater 3000) and A FASCINATING ADVENTURE (1938). André De La Varre made many trips to Florida to keep Warner Brothers well-stocked with Technicolor Spanish moss and palm trees on screen; it was inevitable that he would profile the state’s most popular tourist attraction before Mickey transformed Orlando into a Magic Kingdom. Follow-up to this first WB effort in 1946 was DANGER IS MY BUSINESS (shot in the Everglades, 1950) and a 45 minute featurette with Ross “acting” in DEEP ADVENTURE (1957). All three are worth dusting off just in case TCM decides to salute Birthday Boy on any particular January 2nd.

 

Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd in Sweden

A Technicolor Special (20 minutes) released September 27, 1950

Larry Lansburgh, with Edgar Bergen & company

 

Robert Osborne claimed in one TV spot that this one gets shown from time to time and I believe him. Just not in… what?... ten years? It is possible that all of the earlier Edgar Bergen Vitaphone shorties (filmed from December 1929 through May 1937, with Mortimer only in the last one A NECKIN’ PARTY) have aired over the decades, with a few (but not all) making the DVD cut. This color travelogue / comedy was directed by Larry Lansburgh who alternated back and forth between Warner Brothers and their Burbank rival Walt Disney... providing Oscar nominees and winners in the shortie categories for both. (TCM often shows DESERT KILLER and BEAUTY AND THE BULL.)

 

Another memorable color shortie with Bergen & company used to air on AMC long before MAD MEN and BREAKING BAD. This is a Jerry Fairbanks produced short for Paramount called UNUSUAL OCCUPATIONS L8-2 (October 7, 1938 release). Sometime TCM should hook up with Shields Pictures (http://www.shieldspi....com/index.html ) and start airing some of these, along with “Popular Science” and “Speaking of Animals”. Heck, TCM should get Paramount to dust off their shorties vaults as well. Maybe even Ross Allen can also be saved from vault deterioration.

 

Jungle Terror

A Technicolor Special (20 minutes) released November 5, 1949 (reissued to theaters in September 1959)

Gordon Hollingshead (producer)- Hassoldt Davis; script & co-director: Owen Crump; music: William Lava; narration: Martin Gabel

 

Filmed mostly in 1947, the reviews in BoxOffice and other periodicals suggest this is a successor to the Depression era adventures of Martin and Osa Johnson, Frank Buck & company and, sort of, a fore-runner to MONDO CANE. Furry and scaly residents of the rain forest are profiled, along with "wild natives" living where "no white man has visited"… also a stop at Devil’s Island, where PAPILLON with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman was set. Hassoldt Davis was a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs and loved traipsing through "untouched" jungles and mountains in search of excitement and danger... a bit like KING KONG's Merian C. Cooper, but with a slightly more veracious thrills 'n' chills appetite. One of his books, THE JUNGLE AND THE DAMNED, covers this adventure into French Guiana with Boni guides and meeting a tribe that practices painful "wasp torture". Egad! His second wife, Ruth Staudinger, was the lady-behind-the-camera and, allegedly, she wasn't too happy with the way WB marketed this documentary as a "shockomentary". Later on, she divorced her husband on account of his hardly subtle lifestyle. Not only did he love the usual heavy drinking, but also liked questionable cuisine (i.e. he may have been a little too curious about cannibalism… not that we are certain if he actually tried it in his travels) and tempted "Papa Death" a few too many times for comfort.
 

The Smithsonian Institute reportedly has copies on video cassette as well as much unused footage: http://siris-archives.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?uri=full=3100001~!248778!0#focus. UCLA has a nitrate Technicolor print, but theirs is listed as damaged in the second reel. Maybe the wasps got to it? Somebody may need to do some digital "wizardry" here, but I'm betting that there's more than one copy floating around.

 

Perils of the Jungle

A Broadway Brevity (bw, 21 minutes) released October 3, 1941

Gordon Hollingshead (producer)- Attilio Gatti; script: Herald Medford; music: William Lava; narrator: Knox Manning
 

Another jungle tale that may (or may not) have been aired on TCM in the past but was eventually forgotten… this "Broadway Brevity" covers a Frank Buck-ish search for the elusive Okapi in the Belgian Congo. Atillo Gatti is the explorer profiled here, out to bring this rare cousin of the giraffe "back alive". The first in a US zoo, Bronx in New York, arrived in August 1937, less than a year after the first giant panda imported from China. Unfortunately "okapi-mania" didn't catch fire as "panda-mania" (a.k.a. swimwear and Walter Lantz cartoons). Gatti boasted a camping bus that provided many comforts of home in the jungles. Like Martin and Osa Johnson’s delightful BABOONA, made a few years earlier, we also get to visit the “happy” pygmies.
 

 

*****

 

Five more that CAN be found online (youtube and elsewhere) if you google the titles. (Difficult to upload here.) TCM really hasn’t shown them though… and I bet they would have gorgeous prints to use.
 

Keystone Hotel (murky print) (Big V Comedy, Ralph Staub; 1935)

Task Force (murky print) (Technicolor Special, 1943)

Beachhead To Berlin (a really nice print floating about) (Technicolor Special, Charles Tedford, 1944)

Continental Holiday (Technicolor Special, André De La Varre, April 9, 1954 release, but sometimes dated online 1952)

The John Glenn Story (Featurette, William L. Hendricks, 1962)


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