Sunday, November 1, 2015

The US National Park System

I wasn't terribly interested in mentioning any of the movies coming up on TV today or tomorrow morning, so I looked through the list of November 1 birthdays. Today is a day with few if any interesting birth anniversaries, at least from the point of view of the Golden Age of Hollywood. It's one of the few, I'd think, because usually if I'm stumped for an idea to blog about I can look up the birthdays and find somebody interesting to write a post about.

So I turned to my other favorite fallback, the shorts that are airing on TCM. Coming up tonight at about 11:50 PM, or just following The Great Sinner, you can catch Yosemite the Magnificent. You can probably guess from the title of this movie, if you've been to this blog enough times, that it's another Traveltalks short. I written quite a few posts about various shorts from this series, and how I find all of them interesting. With the coming of World War II to Europe, James A. FitzPatrick was pretty much limited to going around the western hemisphere to do his shorts, but that still gave him a lot of opportunities to see interesting places in North and South America.

Off the top of my head, I can think of several national parks that FitzPatrick visited. In addition to the Yosemite short airing tonight, Fitzpatrick started off with Yellowstone, the granddaddy of all the US National Parks, back in 1936. Not long after that came visits to Rocky Mountain National Park (Rocky Mountain Grandeur) as well as a visit to the Grand Canyon, which I think wasn't a National Park yet, in Natural Wonders of the West. This latter short is also interesting because it was made while Mt. Rushmore was still being carved and FitzPatrick discusses that. A visit to Washington state in 1939 brought a visit to Mount Rainier, while a visit to Oregon a few years later also brought a visit to Crater Lake.

Another specific visit to a national park -- two of them in fact -- is 1942's Glacier Park and Waterton Lakes. Waterton Lakes is just across the border from Glacier, in southern Alberta. Back in 1942 the border was quite open (see the opening to Michael Powell's 49th Parallel); I don't know what the events of September 11, 2001 did to the border between the two national parks. That having been said, FitzPatrick visited Alberta's other national parks during the course of making all those Traveltalks shorts. 1935 brought a visit to Beautiful Banff and Lake Louise, while 17 years later, almost at the end of the series, he went to Jasper National Park.

I don't know if all of the Traveltalks shorts survive, but a lot of them do based on how often they show up on TCM. Quite a few of them are on Youtube too.

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