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James FitzPatrick TravelTalks shorts

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Just wanted to add a generalized comment here.


This is one of the funnest threads here. I mean... what else is there to discuss about Bette Davis or Casablanca? Or the AFI's top lists? Or "favorite" and "un-favorite" movies that have been discussed too often in print and online already? (Granted, I myself partake in those discussions too, so I am not pooh-poohing it.) 


Yet travelogue films are hardly ever discussed at all. Does the average movie fan even know that short films were once shown before the average feature? The way these little gems are discussed here reminds me of excited archealogists documenting on what has been "unearthed" and what hasn't yet.


Also... the fact that there is ACTUAL communication between we meager viewers/fans and Those In Charge is a promising sign that at least one entertainment company at least CARES that there is "stuff" in their vaults. (I realize I will croak long before Fox even notices they have CinemaScope travelogues and "Movietone Adventures" rotting away somewhere... or somebody in Paramount's division will even bother with what all they have neglected.) Yes, we all understand it takes time and $$$ to transfer these little ten minute "thangs" to digital broadcasting... and restoration. Also the whole question: Is There A Market For Any Of This To Make Them Worth Preserving? I am trying to think like a business tycoon here.


Baby steps. Baby steps. Even though Warner's travelogues are often BETTER than FitzPatrick's Traveltalks, it is best to get all of Fitz out in all of their Technicolor glory first since they are the easiest ones to do so. (Also push the Archive to get clusters of them on DVD. A disc for each continent would be nice additions to our collections. Tomorrow, we can push for E.M. Newman and Andre de la Varre, among others. At least the wikipedia entries are up so folks are aware they exist.)

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Well said, Jlewis! This is easily one of the most fun and interesting threads going (along with the Charley Chase thread, Vitaphones, etc.). I'm very glad that we have a nice group of people who read and contribute to it, and am especially impressed that those at TCM seem to have taken notice.

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There are nearly 200 TravelTalk shorts in the TCM library! 


It is must be the largest visual history of how things really use to be in the world before the 2nd World War and atom bomb changed the way people looked at it.


I wonder if FitzPatrick had any idea these little gems would turn out to be the only filmed record of many of these places. Or still be seen 80 plus years after the fact!


I truly am fascinated by them.  I can't help but wonder what these places look like now and what happened to the people inadvertently caught by the camera.



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Vienna, the capital and largest city of Austria, is one of the most historic cities in the world and the famous landmark around which much of its history has revolved is known as Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the house of Hapsburg. It was here that Maria Theresa, Napoleon Bonaparte, Franz Joseph and other world famous rulers once resided and entertained in regal splendor. Incidentally, the palace contains 1441 rooms and 139 kitchens and is now used as a museum..........


                       Perchance to dream.............. Glimpses of Austria.

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The Goodies this week... but doublecheck the schedule in case I screwed up a time. Don't want you folks to miss the 1934 Swiss tour.


Thursday the 28th

2:13 PM: Roaming Through Northern Ireland (July 9, 1949)


Friday the 29th

2:05 AM: Pastoral Panoramas (April 15, 1950)

7:51 AM: Glimpses Of Old England (October 8, 1949)

6:34 PM: Glimpses Of Ontario (December 5, 1942)


Saturday the 30th

2:05 AM (US): On The Shores Of Nova Scotia (June 28, 1947)

7:50 AM: Switzerland The Beautiful (October 2, 1934)

9:50 PM: Glimpses Of Argentina (December 1, 1951)


Sunday the 31st

11:39 PM: Monumental Utah (July 29, 1944)


Friday, September 5th

11:39 PM (Canada):: Ontario: Land Of Lakes (February 12, 1949)


Tuesday the 9th

9:49 PM: Delightful Denmark (June 27, 1953)


Thursday the 11th

4:21 AM: Rural Sweden (May 14, 1938)

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  • 1 month later...

The big focus this upcoming week is Monday's "Back to the Drawing Board" spotlighting Winsor McCay and the John Bray and Van Beuran animation studios (and I'm surprised there is little discussion on the message boards about them), but two Traveltalks managed to get squeezed into the schedule before then... US-side. (Mostly Canada is getting the goods.) Tomorrow (Friday) at 11:43 PM, we get Picturesque South Africa (shot in 1936, spotlighting Cape Town) and Saturday, 3:47 PM, Glimpses of Morocco and Algiers (1951)


Land Of Orizaba (January 2, 1943) airs Friday the 10th at 4:06 AM


More a-comin'...


Thursday the 16th

8:50 AM: Romantic Riviera (June 23, 1951)


Saturday the 18th

4:15 AM: Cradle Of A Nation (December 13, 1947), covering Virginia


Sunday the 19th

5:49 AM: Colorful Colorado (May 20, 1944)


Tuesday the 21st

5:46 PM: Glimpses Of Florida... used to be THE most popular Traveltalk on TCM, but others have surpassed it. Even commented on it here: http://fan.tcm.com/blogpost/the-most-beloved-traveltalk


Thursday the 23rd

10:28 AM: On The Road To Monterrey (March 27, 1943)

11:50 PM: Wandering Here And There (December 9, 1944)


Saturday the 25th

Canada only... 12:49 AM (just after midnight): Beautiful Banff And Lake Louise (October 5, 1935)


Tuesday the 28th

5:38 AM: Mediterranean Ports Of Call (January 4, 1941)

11:34 AM: Seeing El Salvador (March 31, 1945)

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Might as well keep adding these as they pop on the schedule. Tomorrow, Wednesday the 4th, gets a 7:49 PM showing of...


People Of Russia

MGM- James FitzPatrick / bw-10+m / Miniature / December 26, 1942

An interesting relic of its era when the Cold War hadn’t officially begun since both enemies were busy fighting that Nazi SOB, this wartime travelogue combines footage of recent newsreels (Stalin overseeing “parades of progress” almost like you-know-who) with 1932 footage FitzPatrick shot for his Traveltalks. Although MGM distributed them like most, TCM has yet to show the original pre-color entries Moscow - Heart Of Soviet Russia (a.k.a. Russia Today) and Leningrad - The Gateway To Soviet Russia.


Have been posting these with the other shorties for quite a while on the fan forum: http://fan.tcm.com/blogpost/tcm-short-subject-schedule-starting-october-30th-2014



Oh... another two...


Monday the 10th   7:45 PM:Old New Orleans / December 21, 1940


Friday the 14th 2:04 PM: Yellowstone Park: Nature’s Playground / October 24, 1936


More add-ons... through December (as posted here:

http://fan.tcm.com/blogpost/tcm-short-subject-schedule-starting-november-18th-2014 )


Wednesday the 26th

6:09 PM: Mighty Manhattan, New York's Wonder City (July 30, 1949, two reeler)


Thursday the 27th

12:50 AM:  Copenhagen- City Of Towers (July 18, 1953)


Monday, December 1st

12:17 AM (Canada only): Visiting Virginia (November 29, 1947) 


Wednesday, December 3rd

2:06 PM: Scholastic England (December 18, 1948)




Friday the 5th

2:51 PM: Looking At Lisbon (December 26, 1953)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I know this is Fitz's Forum, but it is always fun to look at some of his "contemporaries".


And it is a good excuse to post a few youtube videos that always amuse me...


One series I haven't found online yet are the short-lived "Musical Moods", but UCLA has a cluster in their archives apparently... if TCM ever gets curious about them. While Fitzpatrick's Traveltalk camera crew was filming in full Technicolor the glories of Switzerland and the American Southwest in mid-1934, rival cameraman Robert Bruce was also shooting scenic Switzerland (in a title called In A Mountain Pass)... and Venice (Italian Caprice)... and the countrysides of Vermont (autumn foliage in 1934, October Days) and Kentucky (a fox hunt in Countryside Melodies) in the glorious rainbow as well. Alas... these are stuck in canisters on some shelf... somewhere. At least we know they still exist and are not lost.


Speaking of Technicolor... and going back through the years...


When it began in its primitive form, there was an arch rival: Prizmacolor


This process was quite good, but I gather involved a faster film speed and more complicated equipment. Nonetheless, the company was cranking out all color travelogues and mini-dramas (like Heidi) almost weekly (later monthly) from 1918 through 1923.


Unfortunately, the company didn't register their films for copyright and you need to read ol' scanned magazines at the Internet Archive in order to find out some of the titles released. They covered Japan right after the war, probably the first series shot there in "living" color. Hawaii was a popular locale too.


This was a "special" made for the American Museum of Natural History.






A second series that has entertained me recently is The Pathé Review.


Obviously Pathécolor was not REAL color, but stenciled in. Yet these "color" reels are still a lot of fun.


Every Sunday between the spring of 1919 and the summer of 1930, movie theaters could expect a new "Pathé Review"... along with other Pathé short subjects like Hal Roach or Mack Sennett comedies (since both were distributing through Pathé for a good many years). A second series called "Pathé AUDIO Review" had sound and ran concurrent to the silent series from 1929 through 1933 (by which time, it became the RKO-Pathé Review).


These multi-subject reels were the movie counterpart to a National Geographic or Scientific American magazine. Each contained a color travelogue segment (just as Nat Geo had a mid-section of Autochrome or "Finlay Color" prints in each magazine issue of that period), a wild animal in its "natural habitat" (Dr. Raymond L. Ditmars predated Marlin Perkins of Wild Kingdom by a good many decades), a trick novelty act shot in slow motion or with optical effects (that you would later see repeated as a gimmick in feature films)... and, of course, a "behind the scenes" look at how a common household product is manufactured. Particularly interesting were the series shown in "serial" form of the great expeditions of the roaring twenties, like Roy Chapman Andrew's visit to Mongolia and his dinosaur egg discoveries. No clue how many of the 32-per-year titles survive, but all were registered for copyright and well reviewed in magazines like Film Daily and Motion Picture News (which you can read on the Internet Archive).


The British Pathé posted a stitched together "montage" that gives you some idea what these delightful shorties were like.



A little detective work reveals the source material...


1.) The flower Hibiscus clip was probably first shown in an October 26, 1927 entry
2.) The puffins & muirs (sea birds) with fish in beaks, probably were filmed in Newfoundland about 1925. A title from January 10, 1926 includes that footage.
3.) Bees & flowers, not sure of date, but plenty of reels had those.
4.) Sea gulls, probably March 26, 1926
5.) Cormorant being fed, probably May 23, 1926
6.) "Look what the color artists did to poor Robin Red Breast in France": this one would be difficult to date.  I love this bit because somebody (possibly the hilarious editor Terry Ramsaye) pokes fun at the boo-boo and includes the mistake in the finished result for a good laugh.
7.) Fred Dana Marsh (black & white), from a May 20, 1928 release.
8.) Three Gentlemen From Indiana (black & white), filmed for Pathé newsreel in summer of 1927, shown on Review on March 12, 1928. The title card reads "13-28". This means that it is the 13th release for the calender year 1928 (#1 released the final week of '27 and #52 was released December 18, 1928 before the '29 batch got started.) See how fun it is to "date" old movies!
9.) Guatemala footage was included in a January 14, 1928 entry, but possibly earlier ones too.




... and finally, my developing "fetish" for 16mm educational shorties fondly remembered in my youth. Between 1929 and "circa" 1989, ERPI Classroom Films... known as Encyclopædia Britannica Films after 1943... was selling these to schools all across the country. In the 1980s, both VHS and 16mm editions were made available until the film versions petered out into extinction.


Many are online, but the quality of these "public domain" prints are all over the map. Nonetheless, a few favorites...


Children Of Japan (© October 15, 1940)... a pre-war look at what the kiddies do at the other side of the globe.




... and a look at the country decades later: Japan: Miracle In Asia (© September 16, 1963)




Cameraman William Deneen had a rather interesting career: http://www.afana.org/deneen.htm



... cute critters "performing"...


The Hare And The Tortoise (© October 2, 1947)





... behind the scenes...


Making Films That Teach (© November 5, 1954)




They don't make 'em like this anymore. Includes vintage clips from: Thomas Jefferson ('49), Tobacco And The Human Body ('54, shown in production), Synthetic Fibers: Nylon And Rayon ('49), footage of Gary (Indiana) steel mills, Inside India ('48), Children Of Holland ('39), Snapping Turtle ('40); Care Of The Skin ('49), The Ears And Hearing ('49), Life Of A Plant ('49, filming shots), Winter On The Farm ('48, shown after we "morph" into full color... LOL!), Spring On The Farm ('47), Autumn On The Farm ('48),  Brush Techniques: The Language Of Watercolor ('47), Life Along The Waterways ('52), and Monarch Butterfly Story ('51)


Of course, I can't leave John Barnes out here. He was the "master"... sort of the Arthur Freed for the school kiddies. His most famous films of the fifties through seventies involved Shakespeare, the Civil War, Greek Mythology and Ancient Rome. Yet this nature conservation reel holds particular interest in that it looks 1970s-ish, but was shot when Eisenhower was president.


Look To The Land (© March 18, 1954)




More typical fare... Leonardo Da Vinci: Giant Of The Renaissance (© March 21, 1957)



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I wasn't sure if I got too "nerdy" on you folks.


We do need a thread dedicated to all of the long forgotten shorties over the decades. It is staggering just how much was produced... more than features obviously, but rarely seen today like the features still are. Like everybody, I have a "wish to see" list that will most definitely go unfulfilled.


Update for December 10th... and back to topic:



One Traveltalk this weekend is a Canada only showing (Saturday, 11:43 AM): Beautiful Banff And Lake Louise


One of the Andre de la Varre's for Warner Brothers gets shown (hopefully in color and not a monochrome TV print) on Saturday too, at 10:17 AM: a 1944 tour of Miami's animal and bird parks, The Birds And The Beasts Were There


Then a few not seen in a while...


Monday the 15th

7:50 PM: Suva, Pride Of Fiji  / June 8, 1940


Wednesday the 17th

5:43 AM:  Over The Andes / September 25, 1943


Thursday the 18th

7:38 AM:  Minnesota: Land Of Plenty  / January 31, 1942

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Awww... gosh darn... I dunno what to say.


Except that we are a bit "FitzPatrick Fammished" this week... at least until Scholastic England on the 27th (10:20 AM)


Should give a nod to the shown-often-but-still good André De La Varre travelogue on Monday morning's schedule USA-side, but at a weird hour: 5:48 AM... Grandad Of Races (1950). Nice thing about the Warner shorties is that they often shared the same orchestras used in the Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies and this one sports all of that loud, musical "slush" over the pretty Italian scenery. (I never was fond of FitzPatrick's organ music of the post-war years, since I think MGM wanted to keep them cheap.)


Y'know, instead of just recycling the same two (Grandad of Races and The Birds And Beasts Were There), TCM could "test the waters" (and the FitzPatrick Fans won't mind expanding their menu) with one of his "catch-all" compilation reels Continental Holiday. I love this particular one because, despite all of the footage "recycled" from earlier shorts (i.e. That's Bully!, Riviera Days, etc.), it is edited with all new "slushy" music and Mighty Marvin Miller is sssssooooo over-enthusiastic in his narration. Here is the un-restored version:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some of you may remember yancey's and my lists of Traveltalks that we've never seen played on TCM, and I'm excited to report that TCM has scheduled one of the long elusive titles from these lists:


Land of the Quintuplets (1942) -- It's even at a reasonable hour:  8:50am on Saturday, January 3.


Also, later that day, TCM is airing A Wee Bit of Scotland (1949), at the even more reasonable hour of 1:39pm, so it's a very good day for FitzPatrick Fanatics.


Kudos to the TCM programmer. Keep it up!


P.S. And if the TCM programmer happens to be reading this, would still love to see the following get scheduled:

  • Alluring Alaska (1941)
  • Colorful Guatemala (1935)
  • Glimpses of Mexico (1940)
  • Glimpses of Peru (1937)
  • Glimpses of Washington State (1940)
  • Holland in Tulip Time (1934)
  • Java Journey (1939)
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Sunday morning... the 11th... they are dusting off...

5:51 AM: Holland In Tulip Time (1934, first of the 3-color Technicolor Traveltalks) at 5:51 AM

8:12 AM: Cherry Blossom Time In Japan (or Japan In Cherry Blossom Time) (1936) at 8:12 AM

1:45 PM: Glacier Park And Waterton Lakes (1942)

9:49 PM: Glimpses Of Mexico (1940)


Tuesday just past midnight (12:06 AM): Visiting Italy (1951)


... and a few more for this month:


Friday the 23rd

5:05 PM: just before Nevada Smith…

Romantic Nevada (April 24, 1943)... a must see for fans of vintage cars in Technicolor


Saturday the 24th

1:46 AM: Around The World In California (May 17, 1947)

7:50 PM:  Glimpses Of Kentucky (April 12, 1941)... cameo by Man O'War


Sunday the 25th

NOT a Traveltalk, but worth including... 11:48 PM:  Amalfi Way (Hamilton Wright, December 31, 1954)


Tuesday the 27th

7:50 PM: The Capital City: Washington D.C. (September 7, 1940)


Friday the 30th

9:38 AM: Old New Orleans (December 21, 1940)


Saturday the 31st

4:21 AM:  On The Shores Of Nova Scotia (June 28, 1947)

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They are just on the tcm.com main schedule now. I have to update a new blog for the shorties on the other forum later. I am still waiting for the schedule to "fill up" more. This is the one covering these last few days (with no Traveltalks yet): http://fan.tcm.com/blogpost/tcm-short-subject-schedule-31-days-of-oscar-part-2


PS: I did START a blog for the next week. It will need lots of updates later. http://fan.tcm.com/blogpost/tcm-short-subject-schedule-starting-march-4th-2015

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  • 2 weeks later...

Went ahead and expanded the silly blog to Wednesday morning at least... http://fan.tcm.com/blogpost/tcm-short-subject-schedule-starting-march-4th-2015


Hopefully, all of yee Traveltalks Fans are all prepared for tomorrow afternoon's trip to 1938 Egypt (shot about the same time THE FOUR FEATHERS production crew was there shooting in Technicolor as well) and an evening in wartime gas-rationed Utah. St. Patty's day takes us to Ireland twice, the first time in the summer of 1934 when Technicolor really meant something.

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Great to see them resumed. Thanks for the blog post.



Two more to add (Monumental Utah tomorrow and Life In The Andes just after midnight next Friday), but I think they are working on our schedule right now. Give the TCM Elves a bit more time... ha ha!




Speaking of travelogues, I posted two screencaps from an RKO "Vagabond Adventure" short over on that forum. (Look up "Fallen Empire" over there if you are curious.) So far, my "spicy" one with the Haiti fishing gals hasn't been deleted... yet. I do wonder at times if I am testing the waters of "proper taste" a little too much.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Started a "bare bones" blog (i.e. only today through Sunday on the schedule so far). Got a couple Traveltalk goodies this weekend.




By the way, I had always been listing Eastern Standard Time with these... and confusing the masses to no end. (Ain't I diabolical?) So... I am now listing all four time zones for a change of pace.


If you're going to San Francisco... be sure to wear some flowers in your hair...



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