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James A. FitzPatrick

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James Anthony FitzPatrick (February 26, 1894 – June 12, 1980) was an American producer, director, writer and narrator known from the early 1930s as "The Voice of the Globe" for his Fitzpatrick's Traveltalks.[1]

Biography[edit]

One of FitzPatrick's Travel Talks shorts, this one about Seoul, Korea in 1931.
James FitzPatrick, a camera crew and a crowd at Bondi Beach, Australia, in 1951.

James Anthony FitzPatrick was born in Shelton, Connecticut. After completing training in dramatic arts, he worked as a journalist. In 1916, he began his film career by starting the Juvenile Film Company in Cleveland, producing comedy shorts featuring children, years before similar series such as Our Gang and The Little Rascals.[2] However, the series was not a success, and by 1921, FitzPatrick was working as a writer/director for Charles Urban's Kineto Company of America, working on a series titled Great American Authors that featured profiles of famous American writers.[3] However, Kineto folded in 1924, and in 1925 FitzPatrick established his own company and began two concurrent series: Famous Music Masters—dramatized shorts about the lives of famous composers—and Songs Of. The films were distributed worldwide, and some were later synchronized to sound.[4]

In 1930, FitzPatrick began filming travel documentaries for British and American markets.[5][6] Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer distributed the series under the title FitzPatrick Traveltalks. Beginning with 1934's Holland in Tulip Time, the Traveltalks were filmed in Technicolor, and the series was among the earliest regular vehicles for color film in the American film industry. After FitzPatrick left MGM in 1954, he produced a similar series for Paramount Pictures titled Vistavision Visits for another year before retiring.

FitzPatrick died at the age of 86 in Cathedral City, California.

Legacy[edit]

FitzPatrick created nearly 300 films in a career that spanned five decades. His approach was somewhat similar to that of Charles Urban in that his travelogues concentrated on architecture and landscape rather than on people. FitzPatrick also relates to Urban in his advocacy of color, which he first employed in Charles Gounod (1928), a film in the Famous Music Master series.[4]

With the advent of television, Hollywood began to reduce its reliance on short subjects, and many shorts departments began to close. FitzPatrick owned his own unit and managed to survive longer than did many internal studio units. FitzPatrick Pictures produced only five features, three of which were intended for release only in the UK. The last film, Song of Mexico (1945), was released by Republic Pictures.

The Traveltalks films are often shown on the Turner Classic Movies channel as filler material between features.

On his 1958 Parlophone record The Best of Sellers, Peter Sellers performed "Balham, Gateway to the South", a parody of Fitzpatrick's travelogues.[7] A short film version of this was released in 1980 by Robbie Coltrane.


In 1960, FitzPatrick was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[8]

Selected filmography (see IMDB.com for details of these films)[edit]

Home video availability[edit]

In 2016, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released the entire series of shorts in a three-volume DVD-R set titled Fitzpatrick Traveltalks. Individual shorts may also be found as extras on DVDs of Warner Bros. films of the period:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fitzpatrick Travel Talks Vol. 1 (1934–1946)".
  2. ^ Anthony Slide, "Juvenile Film Company" in The New Historical Dictionary of the American Film Industry, The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Lanham, MD and London, 2001.
  3. ^ "John Greenleaf Whittier (1921)". IMDb. 23 October 1921. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  4. ^ a b "NitrateVille.com • View topic - Famous Music Master Series". nitrateville.com. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  5. ^ "James A. Fitzpatrick". BFI. Archived from the original on 18 January 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  6. ^ "James A. FitzPatrick". IMDb. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Peter Sellers – The Best Of Sellers". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  8. ^ "James A. Fitzpatrick". WalkofFame. 25 October 2019. Retrieved 2020-04-03.

External links[edit]