Friday, June 5, 2015

Land of the Quintuplets

I'm somewhat surprised that I haven't mentioned the Traveltalks short Land of the Quintuplets before. It's on TCM again today at about 5:33 PM, following Journey Into Fear (4:15 PM, 68 min).

The quintuplets in question are, of course, the Dionne quintuplets, who had been born in 1934 and were the first set of surviving quintuplets. (Two of them are still alive, and turned 81 last week.) As I mentioned when I blogged about Five of a Kind, the Ontario provincial government eventually made them wards of the province and built up an entire tourist industry around the quints, which is what this particular short depicts. As would become clear when the quints grew up, they found this incredibly exploitative. The short, however, depicts what the government is doing to the poor kids as a good thing, which I suppose shouldn't be too surprising coming from James A. FitzPatrick, who always looked at the bright side of things in his narration. (See, for example, Chile, Land of Charm. Granted, FitzPatrick wouldn't have been able to know that much about what was going on behind the scenes, but the kitschy tourist industry that had built up -- and this doesn't just mean showing off the quints, as you'll see in the film -- should have given him a clue. Still, looking back on things with 70 years of hindsight, this short comes off as especially creepy.

Wikipedia says that amazingly, the Dionne parents had three more children after the quints. In addition to the two surviving quints, three other of the children, out of 14 total, still survive.

No comments: