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" from his Fitzpatrick's Traveltalks.
James Anthony FitzPatrick was born in Shelton, Connecticut. After completing training in dramatic arts, he worked for a while as a journalist. In 1916, he entered into films by starting the Juvenile Film Company, in Cleveland, producing comedy shorts featuring children, anticipating by years similar series such as Our Gang and The Little Rascals. However, the series was not a success; by 1921, FitzPatrick was working as a writer/director in Charles Urban's American Kineto concern, making a series titled "Great American Authors," which featured profiles of famous American writers. However, Kineto folded in 1924, and in 1925 FitzPatrick established his own company and undertook two concurrent series: "Famous Music Masters" — dramatized shorts about the lives of famous composers — and "Songs Of." These were distributed worldwide, and some were later synchronized to sound.
In 1930, FitzPatrick began filming travel documentaries for British and American viewers. 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, making this series one of the first 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 about another year before retiring. He died at the age of 86 in Cathedral City, California.
FitzPatrick made nearly 300 films in a career that spanned five decades. He was, in some ways, the heir to Charles Urban's approach to making travelogues: they concentrated on the picturesque elements of a nation visited — architecture and landscape, but not so much the people.
FitzPatrick also relates to Charles Urban in his advocacy of color, which he first employed in Charles Gounod (1928), a film in the Famous Music Master Series.
With the coming 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 many internal studio units, but the handwriting was on the wall by the time he bowed out. FitzPatrick Pictures produced only five features, and three of these were intended for release only in the UK. The last one, Song of Mexico (1945), was released by Republic Pictures. In the 21st century, the Traveltalks are notable for preserving cityscapes before many of them had skyscrapers or international hotel chains, and ways of life that are now defunct, though these are presented in a very general way. The Traveltalks are still often shown today on Turner Classic Movies 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 travelogues, written by Frank Muir and Denis Norden, and produced by George Martin.
Home video availability
In 2016, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released the entire series of shorts in the DVD-R format, as Fitzpatrick Traveltalks (three volumes). Individual shorts can also be found as extras on DVDs of classic Warner Bros. owned films of the period:
- Los Angeles: Wonder City of the West is on the DVD of Sylvia Scarlett
- Cherry Blossom Time in Japan is on the DVD of China Seas
- Paris on Parade is on the DVD and Blu-Ray of An American in Paris
- Modern New Orleans and Old New Orleans are on the DVD of The Toast of New Orleans
- Cavalcade of San Francisco is on the DVD of Go West
- Glimpses of Florida is on the DVD of Lady Be Good
- Looking at London is on the DVD of The Three Musketeers
- Glimpses of California is on the DVD of Till the Clouds Roll By
- Chicago, the Beautiful and Night Life in Chicago are on the DVD of In the Good Old Summertime
- Roaming Through Michigan is on the DVD of Three Little Words
- Romantic Riviera is on the DVD of Easy to Love
- Land of the Taj Mahal and Ancient India are on the DVD of Kim
- Land of the Taj Mahal is on the DVD of The Prisoner of Zenda (1937 and 1952 dual-disc version)
- "Fitzpatrick Travel Talks Vol. 1 (1934–1946)".
- Anthony Slide, "Juvenile Film Company" in The New Historical Dictionary of the American Film Industry, The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Lanham, MD and London, 2001.
- "John Greenleaf Whittier (1921)". IMDb. 23 October 1921. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- "NitrateVille.com • View topic - Famous Music Master Series". nitrateville.com. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- "James A. Fitzpatrick". BFI. Archived from the original on 18 January 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- "James A. FitzPatrick". IMDb. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- "Peter Sellers – The Best Of Sellers". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
- "James A. Fitzpatrick". WalkofFame. 25 October 2019. Retrieved 2020-04-03.