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James FitzPatrick TravelTalks shorts

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So I got great news, and I got terrible news. 


The great news is that DVD Volume 3 is now on the WB site. And it includes 66 shorts, not 60. I counted up the totals and knew that another 60 would be just shy of the MGM color grand total. But 66 might get them all.


The terrible news is that it has a ship date of 11/15/2020.


Uhhhhhhh... Four years from now?!?!? 


WB: c'mon, man. This has to be a typo, yeah? Let's change that to 2016 and get the discs a'burnin'.



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It says the years covered are 1940 through 1953 (a.k.a. his last for MGM, filmed '52 for the '53-54 season). This may mean that it covers that New Orleans title that got skipped on the other two due to "double dipping" an Australia title. Also included is a 1951 promotional for QUO VADIS that features Italy footage contemporary to the Traveltalks. Probably not included would be the other shorts by Jimmy that were not part of the Traveltalk series like WOOD GOES TO WAR, MEMORIES OF AUSTRALIA and other MGM "Miniatures".

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It says the years covered are 1940 through 1953 (a.k.a. his last for MGM, filmed '52 for the '53-54 season). This may mean that it covers that New Orleans title that got skipped on the other two due to "double dipping" an Australia title. Also included is a 1951 promotional for QUO VADIS that features Italy footage contemporary to the Traveltalks. Probably not included would be the other shorts by Jimmy that were not part of the Traveltalk series like WOOD GOES TO WAR, MEMORIES OF AUSTRALIA and other MGM "Miniatures".

Wonderful News!

I just ordered from WB SHOP & Amazon

Order says will have it here by 11/16/2016


Can't wait!


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  • 2 weeks later...
The new discs are here. You know that feeling you get when you complete a jigsaw puzzle? Yes, sort of. That is, unless, they missed some of the Traveltalks in this last volume. Still checking. List below.
A couple notes:
I was curious if "People of Russia" from 1942 would be included. That's a negative. Although a black-and-white retread, I was curious if they would include it just because it's from this same era. Speaking of that one, I bet elderly Jimmy wish he could've taken back giving a shout out to Stalin, with an emphasis on his last name like a boxing ring announcer. But it was the 40s and not the 50s. Anyway.
As previewed, included is "Memories of Australia" -- a "miniature" from MGM. Haven't checked yet, but I suspect it will be very similar to the almost-identically named 1939 short.
Here we go...
Disc 1
1940 - Old New Orleans
1942 - Memories of Australia 
1946 - Land of the Mayas
1946 - Visiting Vera Cruz 
1946 - The Mission Trail 
1946 - Looking at London 
1946 - Over the Seas to Belfast 
1946 - Glimpses of California  
1947 - Calling on Costa Rica 
1947 - Around the World in California 
1947 - On the Shores of Nova Scotia 
1947 - Glimpses of New Scotland 
1947 - Visiting Virginia 
1947 - Cradle of a Nation 
1948 - Cape Breton Island 
1948 - Chicago, the Beautiful 
1948 - Wandering Through Wales 
1948 - Night Life in Chicago
1948 - Scholastic England
1949 - Ontario: Land of Lakes 
1949 - Calling on Michigan
1949 - Playlands of Michigan  
1949 - Quebec in Summertime
Disc 2
1949 - Roaming Through Northern Ireland  
1949 - From Liverpool to Stratford 
1949 - Glimpses of Old England  
1949 - In Old Amsterdam 
1949 - A Wee Bit of Scotland  
1950 - Land of Tradition  
1950 - Colorful Holland 
1950 - Pastoral Panoramas  
1950 - Roaming Through Michigan
1950 - To the Coast of Devon 
1950 - Touring Northern England
1950 - The Land of Auld Lang Syne 
1950 - Life on the Thames  
1951 - Egypt Speaks 
1951 - Voices of Venice 
1950 - Springtime in the Netherlands  
1951 - Land of the Zuider Zee
1951 - A Word for the Greeks 
1951 - Romantic Riviera 
1951 - Glimpses of Morocco and Algiers
1951 - Visiting Italy
1951 - Glimpses of Argentina
Disc 3
1952 - Beautiful Brazil 
1952 - Picturesque New Zealand

1952 - Life in the Andes
1952 - Land of the Taj Mahal 
1952 - Jasper National Park 
1952 - Seeing Ceylon
1952 - Ancient India  
1952 - Pretoria to Durban 
1952 - In the Land of Diamonds 
1952 - Calling on Cape Town
1953 - Land of the Ugly Duckling 
1953 - Beautiful Bavaria 
1953 - Johannesburg: 'City of Gold' 
1953 - Delightful Denmark 
1953 - Copenhagen, City of Towers 
1953 - Seeing Spain
1953 - In the Valley of the Rhine
1953 - Looking at Lisbon 
1954 - Glimpses of Western Germany
1949 - Mighty Manhattan, New York's Wonder City
Rome, the Eternal City -- not a FitzPatrick, not sure why it's here, but it's here.
To quote Indiana Jones in the third one:
"Well, we made it."
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Not included, for those keeping score


FitzPatrick's independently produced Traveltalks of 1929-31, all in black & white

The MGM Traveltalks of 1931-1934, all in black & white (although Kino Lorber released an assortment on VHS ages ago and could be pressured to do a DVD set)

These MGM Miniature shorts:

  • Viva Mexico (Wilfred Cline) / filmed spring 1940 / Nov 1, 1941

  • People Of Russia (in black & white) (Frank Goodliffe) / filmed Jul 1932 plus footage from “News of the Day” featuring Stalin in 1942 / Dec 26, 1942

  • Wood Goes To War (William Snyder) / filmed winter 1942-43 / May 8, 1943


Two non travel FitzPatricks are available on Classic Shorts From The Dream Factory Vol. 2 (Warner Archive) DVD

  • Memories And Melodies / filmed Dec 1934 / Feb 16, 1935

  • Mendelssohn's Wedding March / filmed summer 1939 / Nov 4, 1939


The Warner Bros., Paramount and 20th Century Fox shorts will have to wait for later


Here is our complete list in chronological order: http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/23356-james-fitzpatrick-traveltalks-shorts/?p=1273343


If only Jimmy knew how much we all w-u-v him to be so dedicated to his "filmography". Ha ha!


I also want to give thanks to members of the Warner Archive for actually reading our posts on this thread. They boo-booed with Old New Orleans by double-dipping another title, but may not have noticed this had it not been discussion here. SOMEBODY was reading and knew we were actually purchasing sets. So they added it to volume 3. (Also... if SOMEBODY is reading this who has power with Warner's DVD division, a nice set of E.M. Newman and André De La Varre Warner Brothers travelogues would be nice too, along with some of the great Sports Parades, Robert Youngson historicals and Warner Technicolor Specials. You can always start with an Oscar winners and nominees set to test the market first. Just so I can finally see Youngson's Blaze Busters.)

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OK... going through Volume 3 and skipping some titles that I have seen more than enough times.


Here is my critical review... lol!


What all of yee Traveltalk buffs will notice right away with Volume 3 is a noticeable decline in pictorial quality. This is not the fault of the DVD, although some of us were willing to wait another year or two for some digital improvement. It is just that the films themselves are fuzzier and all of the dirt (hair, dust) is more noticeable than before.


Why? Well... there is a reason. By the time of Jimmy's 1944 Central American tour (and films from this period are found on all three sets), 16mm pretty much replaced replaced 35mm as the preferred format for most travel film-makers including Jimmy. This was also the format usually used by the combat cameramen documenting World War II in color, along with most nature documentaries of the forties and fifties (including Walt Disney's True Life Adventures) and virtually every school film you saw in the classroom between the 1930s and 1980s. All the Technicolor labs did was blow up Kodachrome's smaller size for the theater screen. The 1950-51 trips to SPRINGTIME IN HOLLAND and SEEING CEYLON will likely not impress you as much as 1930s HOLLAND IN TULIP TIME and GLIMPSES OF JAVA AND CEYLON in the earlier volumes and may, in fact, look like older films. On the plus side, however, 16mm Kodachrome still retains its original colors rather well (especially after Technicolor reprocessed it), in contrast to 35mm Eastmancolor (used a lot in the 1950s and '60s) which deteriorated into a sea of Valentine pink.


My guess is that the Royal Family touring OVER THE SEAS TO BELFAST and the handicapped fisherman and artist in ON THE SHORES OF NOVA SCOTIA didn't look impressive even to Jimmy himself in the economized format. Therefore, we see a dramatic increase in the number of buildings, statues and landscapes and a decrease in people and critter shots. Sadly this makes the Traveltalks post-war a bit duller than pre-war. The two titles covering Virginia are especially boring since so many landmarks like Mt. Vernon are little different than picture postcards transmitted to film. Fortunately the Chicago and Canadian reels have more life in them and are as equally entertaining as anything we expect from Jimmy.


And there are some amusing critter shots. We once again get our elephants in SEEING CEYLON along with some talented German Shepherds in IN THE LAND OF DIAMONDS. Of course, Jimmy loves his bears and deer more than any other non-human mammalian group, so ROAMING THROUGH MICHIGAN gives us both black bears and white tailed fawns to add the Volume 1 and 2 selection of grizzlies (and more black bears) featured in the earlier National Park reels (and this volume's JASPER NATIONAL PARK), the Grand Canyon Mule Deer, the Japanese Sika in ORIENTAL PARADISE, the Swedish zoo bears and (although they are technically related to raccoons and not bears) St. Louis pandas. MEMORIES OF AUSTRALIA (1943) lifts footage from the two 1938 trips there that features the cute “bear-like” marsupial koalas. Sadly, the Hamburg Zoo in GLIMPSES OF WESTERN GERMANY has no bears, but it does have lions, elephants and one especially photogenic Indian Rhino who literally gives the cameraman Hone M. Glendining a great big kiss. (Yup, Jimmy ended his MGM contract with one of his all-time best offerings.)


Oh... I have to add that IN THE LAND OF DIAMONDS also has a half lion, half tiger. Oh yeah, I like the South African group here. Better than average cinematography, with great aerials in CALLING ON CAPE TOWN. Also lots of fun in their political "in-correctness" relating to the native men and their multiple wives.


The United Kingdom does get loads of attention. Planning a trip there? Here you go! Practically every statue and castle gets documented even if the only movement you sometimes see on screen are tourists and the clouds in the sky. The original plan was to just make an overall tour in August 1945 as the country was rebuilding after the war (with LOOKING AT LONDON showcasing much rubble near St. Paul's), but their popularity prompted Jimmy's team to return twice in addition to covering more of Scotland and Ireland. According to the Film Daily articles, there was also a Jimmy-backed TV show broadcast on the BBC during the fall of '49 and my guess is that some of the same material winds up in a few titles here (in color, of course). Overall, these are among the best looking of the later films, particularly LIFE ON THE THAMES which can hold its own with anything done in the thirties in terms of Technicolor beauty.


My guess is that there must have been some complaints that Jimmy's stuff was looking too “economized” during this later period. Thus, we have the brief “People on Parade” face-lift for the 1950-51 season with added sound-bytes a.k.a. EGYPT SPEAKS and VOICES OF VENICE (narrated by various Italians instead of Jimmy for a change). Apparently only two titles sport the snappy new title cards, although vintage BoxOffice magazine lists more under that umbrella than there may have been in reality. Too bad the camerawork is lackluster in these (with the Venice one looking like somebody's home movie with one little girl struggling with her outfit shown twice) because they could have potentially ranked among his best.


In addition to the 2-reel Traveltalk Special on MIGHTY MANHATTAN (which is probably my favorite here, along with the South African reels), we also get a tour of Rome with a some lovely ladies who also get a backstage pass to see Cinecittà and the production of MGM's QUO VADIS. This is called ROME THE ETERNAL CITY and is directed by Morgan Hudgins instead of Jimmy, but blends rather nicely with Jimmy's films. It reminds me of the contemporary JUNGLE SAFARI that was also one half African scenics and one half behind-the-scenes with the KING SOLOMON'S MINES crew.

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I'm a bit tardy posting, but I finally got my set, and I cannot describe how pleased I am that I now have the complete run. Still haven't watched them all yet, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the cut-off-a-few-seconds-before-the-end problem that plagued a number of titles on the first two sets isn't prevalent here.


I'd personally never run across "Memories of Australia", and yes, it is a compilation of footage from "Glimpses of Australia" and "Sydney, Pride of Australia", but for the sake of completeness, not to mention Jimmy's narration evoking his feelings regarding Australia, both before and during the war, I'm glad that it was included. It does make me wonder, though, why "Rome, the Eternal City", a film that seemingly has no connection with FitzPatrick, was included, when "Memories of Europe", a FitzPatrick Miniature similar to "Memories of Australia", presumably could have been included instead.


But there you have it, which is certainly more than I'd ever hoped for.


Speaking of "Rome, the Eternal City", do any of the experts here know anything about this picture other than what can be seen on screen? There doesn't seem to be any information regarding it anywhere that I can find. It does have an MPAA number, which suggests that it was released, and its number also suggests that it was released in 1952 (which happens to be the copyright year shown in the credits). But there's no listing for it on the IMDb, on citwf.com, or in the LoC motion picture copyright catalogue. There is another "Rome, the Eternal City" from 1948 listed in the catalogue and on CITWF, but it's obviously a different picture. The one on the dvd has all the proper MGM logos and text in the credits, plus it's in color, which the 1948 title is not. So if anybody can find anything on this title, feel free to post it here.

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I added it to the MGM shorts list on the other thread here.


Just the British Film Institute discusses it. http://www.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/4ce2b79305dc9


The US copyright listings don't include MGM's promotional shorts, this one being a soft sell of Quo Vadis.


Thanks, Jlewis! I knew someone would come through. I hadn't actually watched it yet, so I wasn't aware of the Quo Vadis connection. I wonder why my searches never turned up the BFI listing.

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People Of Russia is a MGM Miniature, released December 26, 1942, that starts with recent “News of the Day” footage of Stalin, then moves on to stock footage from two 1932 Traveltalks Moscow - Heart Of Soviet Russia and Leningrad - The Gateway To Soviet Russia. Yeah it would be nice if we saw the originals.

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  • 11 months later...

Really appreciate TCM's showing the marvelous "Johannesburg City of Gold" . It's fascinating in its apartheid era propaganda about the healthy dancing natives who merrily leave their "tribal areas" to go happily work in the gold mines and live in new modern housing with their families (at this point "If It's Ever So Humble" is playing as background). And on Sundays they all come together to compete in tribal dancing - a great way to confirm all white assumptions by fixating on semi nude  black men in feathers jumping up and down. I especially appreciated the cheery reference to "kaffir pianos" (mbiras): "kaffir"  is the exact equivalent of the n-word in South Africa and, in the same way, almost unpronouncable there today. Then, the film continues, many miners become "detribalized" and move into the cities, but once on their own their work energy dissipates  and they laze around playing music and lose that glossy healthy look that life in the white-run mines gave them.

Of course, this is all baloney, a combination of white fantasies and exonerating state propaganda. The black male population was forced to work in the mines, living in bleak barracks on six-month contracts during which their families were forbidden to join them, and the conditions and exploitation there were already an international scandal. Hence the interest of the government in fostering films like this. So I found it a wonderful  glimpse into that era and its myths. Rare to get a chance to see a film so blazingly racist and politically Incorrect in these prim times. True historical value. 

Anyone know more how this series worked with governments in South Africa elsewhere to promote such messages?  I'd love to see others in this series that reflect such agendas. 

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Remember that this title is from his return trip in 1952. Check out Picturesque South Africa of 1936.  I don't think most American viewers at the time picked up on the words used in Johannesburg City of Gold like you did, but considering that M ammy Two-shoes only officially retired from MGM's shown-with-the-Traveltalks Tom & Jerry cartoons that same year, it is no surprise that this title just blends in with the competition.

Geoff Alexander's Academic Films For The Classroom is a good read, even though many of the films mentioned were 16mm educational rather than 35mm Hollywood produced. Other film producers like Paul Hoeffler were doing essentially the same thing regarding South Africa (ignoring the racial divide and pretending everything was hunky-dory, but maybe not using those antiquated words that are now considered offensive). It is insinuated, if not spelled out, that these filmmakers were strongly encouraged to conform to the primary government's point-of-view just so they could get their permits to shoot there. Note too that the FitzPatrick Traveltalks covering Japan in 1935 make no reference to the expanding military complex that was always visible everywhere. His Austria reel was fortunately shot the year before Hitler added it to his empire, but I am certain there were already plenty of distinctive flags displayed that were carefully blocked from the camera's view.

Then again, you are talking about Jimmy FitzPatrick, whose view of the world resembled Disney's "It's a Small World" ride. Positively he wasn't blatantly racist as so many others of his generation and was always praising this and that location that displayed a variety of skin shades in close harmony. Unlike, say, 75% of the white United States population pre-civil rights era,  he probably would have no issue with children of different races sharing the same swimming pool. His Brazil reels showing the beaches are particularly interesting in that regard. While we can debate here whether or not he would be as progressive as Spencer Tracy and Kate Hepburn's characters in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and accept Sidney Poitier as a son-in-law, I do get the impression that he was gradually progressing with the times and this is noticeable when you watch the Traveltalks in chronological order, seeing how certain key words are no longer used post-WW2.

Best way to sum him up is with the familiar line from a song in Monty Python's The Life Of Brian: he was always looking on the bright side of life. He blatantly stated in an interview that tourists don't want to see the less-than-pretty aspects of exotic locales, so he sticks to what would be depicted on post-cards. To be fair, National Geographic magazine was equally bad under Gilbert Grosvenor's reign with all of its Autochrome and Kodachrome photographs that showed everybody smiling and apparently well-fed. It is hard to open an issue showing scenic Georgia with its antebellum plantation recreations of the same era and not cynically chuckle at everybody looking happy as they recreate their "roles" of masters and servants.

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  • 11 months later...

In looking at the list of titles on Volume 3 above, it became apparent that the FitzPatrick MGM Miniature Memories of Europe is the title that got jettisoned in order to include Old New Orleans, while Rome, the Eternal City was inexplicably kept, despite not being a Traveltalk.

I still want to see Memories of Europe, and to that end, since it's unlikely to ever be released on dvd, what with WB not including shorts on dvd releases anymore, I've recently taken to requesting it on a more or less weekly basis on the TCM Request a Movie page.

If anyone would care to join me in requesting this neglected FitzPatrick title, that would be great. I'd like the people at TCM to realize that there's more than one person who would like to see this last remaining color "Traveltalk", assuming anyone actually reads the requests.

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I belatedly added it to the MGM shortie list. Apparently it was missed in the 1941 short subject listings of BoxOffice, which was what I used to double check myself. However it was registered for copyright on June 17, 1941 and Motion Picture Herald lists it as a June 14th release under the MGM "Miniatures" like a few other FitzPatricks such as Memories of Australia.

Obviously the material was all recycled from earlier shorts. According to its imdb.com listing, France, Netherlands, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Denmark are covered. Only two cinematographers are listed by the Library of Congress Motion Pictures: 1940-1949 copyright listings: Ray Fernstrom who filmed Holland In Tulip Time, Zeeland- The Hidden Paradise and Switzerland The Beautiful in May 1934 and Winton Hoch who did Stockholm: Pride Of Sweden, Rural Sweden, Copenhagen, Czechoslovakia On Parade, Glimpses Of Austria, Beautiful Budapest and Rural Hungary in May-July 1937. I am assuming that Jack Cardiff didn't get credited, but he was the one who provided Paris footage in July 1937 for Paris On Parade.

Without getting too nerdy here, at least we have the footage elsewhere but in different packaging.

Speaking of Cardiff... he simultaneously provided Paris footage for a U.K. production not handled by Jimmy and MGM. Main Streets Of Paris was filmed the same summer as Paris On Parade and made its U.S. debut at the New York World's Fair in 1939. Later it was reissued with some editing changes and possible re-dubbing through British Pathé over a decade later as Paris On The Seine. You can see it here, with impressive footage of Notre Dame pre-Nazi 1940 occupation and 2019 fires: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L2OEf4FuIA

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