James A. FitzPatrick

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For the New York politician, and namesake of the power plant, see James A. FitzPatrick (New York).

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

In 1930, FitzPatrick began filming travel documentaries for British and American viewers.[4][5] Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer distributed the series under the umbrella title "FitzPatrick Traveltalks." Starting with 1934's Holland in Tulip Time, the Traveltalks were shot in Technicolor, making this series one of the first regular vehicles for color film in the American film industry. After FitzPatrick and MGM parted company in 1954, he went to Paramount, producing a similar series, "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. IMDb reproduces an unsourced quote from FitzPatrick, which reads,

How would I have gained admittance to those countries if I had commented on their social problems? [...] I made my pictures at a time when travel was almost impossible for the average person. I believe I showed people what they would have wanted to see if they could have gone themselves. [...] I don't recall anyone ever requesting a tour of slums and prisons.[6]

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.[3]

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.[7]

Selected filmography[edit]

  • Songs of Ireland (1926)
  • Holland in Tulip Time (1934)
  • Switzerland the Beautiful (1934)
  • Los Angeles: "Wonder City of the West" (1935)
  • Rural Mexico (1935)
  • David Livingstone (1936)
  • Cherry Blossom Time in Japan (1936)
  • Rio de Janeiro "City of Splendor" (1936)
  • Quaint Quebec (1936)
  • Yellowstone Park: "Nature's Playground" (1936)
  • Colorful Bombay (1937)
  • Serene Siam (1937)
  • Glimpses of Peru (1937)
  • Stockholm: "Pride of Sweden" (1937)
  • Beautiful Budapest (1938)
  • Paris on Parade (1938)
  • Jaipur "The Pink City" (1938)
  • Rural Hungary (1939)
  • Picturesque Udaipur (1939)
  • Colorful Curacao (1939)
  • Old Natchez on the Mississippi (1939)
  • Seattle: "Gateway to the Northwest" (1940)
  • Modern New Orleans (1940)
  • Old New Orleans (1940) [8]
  • The Capital City: Washington, D.C. (1940)
  • Cavalcade of San Francisco (1940)
  • Yosemite the Magnificent (1941)
  • Haiti: "Land of Dark Majesty" (1941)
  • Scenic Grandeur (1941)
  • West Point on the Hudson (1942)
  • Colorful North Carolina (1942)[9]
  • Glacier Park and Waterton Lakes (1942)
  • Picturesque Patzcuaro (1942)
  • Exotic Mexico (1942)
  • Picturesque Massachusetts (1942)
  • Mighty Niagara (1943)
  • Mexican Police on Parade (1943)
  • On the Road to Monterrey (1943)
  • Scenic Oregon (1943)
  • Through the Colorado Rockies (1943)
  • Romantic Nevada (1943)
  • Grand Canyon: "Pride of Creation" (1943)
  • A Day in Death Valley (1944)
  • Mackinac Island (1944)
  • Along the Cactus Trail (1944)
  • Colorful Colorado (1944)
  • Roaming Through Arizona (1944)
  • Monumental Utah (1944)
  • Shrines of Yucatan (1945)
  • Seeing El Salvador (1945)
  • Modern Guatemala City (1945)
  • Glimpses of Guatemala (1946)
  • Visiting Veracruz (1946)
  • Looking at London (1946)
  • Calling on Costa Rica (1946)
  • Over the Seas of Belfast (1946)
  • On The Shores of Nova Scotia (1946)
  • Glimpses of New Scotland (1947)
  • Visiting Virginia (1947)
  • Chicago the Beautiful (1948)[10]
  • Wandering Through Wales (1948)
  • Night Life in Chicago (1948)
  • Scholastic England (1948)
  • Ontario: "Land of Lakes (1949)
  • Calling on Michigan (1949)
  • Playlands on Michigan (1949)
  • Quebec in Summertime (1949)
  • Roaming Through Northern Ireland (1949)
  • From Liverpool to Stratford (1949)
  • Colorful Holland (1950)
  • Pastoral Panoramas (1950)
  • Roaming Through Michigan (1950)
  • Touring Northern England (1950)
  • Life on the Thames (1950)
  • Land of Zuider Zee (1951)
  • A Word for the Greeks (1951)
  • Romantic Riviera (1951)
  • Glimpses of Morocco and Algiers (1951)
  • Visiting Italy (1951)
  • Glimpses of Argentina (1951)
  • Picturesque New Zealand (1952)
  • Beautiful Brazil (1952)
  • Land of the Taj Mahal (1952)
  • Jasper National Park (1952)
  • Ancient India (1952)
  • In the Land of Diamonds (1952)
  • Johannesburg: "City of Gold" (1953)
  • Seeing Spain (1953)
  • In the Valley of the Rhine (1953)

Home video availability[edit]

In 2016, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 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. films of the period:


  1. ^ Anthony Slide, "Juvenile Film Company" in The New Historical Dictionary of the American Film Industry, The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Lanham, MD and London, 2001.
  2. ^ "John Greenleaf Whittier (1921)". IMDb. 23 October 1921. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  3. ^ a b "NitrateVille.com • View topic - Famous Music Master Series". nitrateville.com. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  4. ^ "James A. Fitzpatrick". BFI. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  5. ^ "James A. FitzPatrick". IMDb. 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. ^ imdb.com Old New Orleans
  9. ^ https://www.facebook.com/MountainsNC/videos/1047907901928824/
  10. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6dLa7K8nyU

External links[edit]