Sunday, April 29, 2012

Paris on Parade

I've mentioned Traveltalks shorts a number of times in the past. Another interesting one is coming up at approximately 10:45 AM on April 30: Paris on Parade. As the title suggests, James A. Fitzpatrick is visiting Paris, France. But he's not quite visiting Paris per se. Instead, he's visiting the World's Fair that was held there back in 1937.

1937 was still in the time when world travel was a rare thing, pursued mostly by the wealthy classes. I'm reminded of Billie Burke in Dinner at Eight reminding Lord and Lady Ferncliffe over the phone that she met them in "An-tibes", holding each syllable much too long. Traveltalks and other shorts would have been one way for a broad section of society to learn a little more about the great big world outside, even if that something they're learning is quite distorted. The other way would have been World's Fairs, where countries from all over the world corruptly steal money from their citizenry to build a pavilion in some far-off country so that the upper middle class people of that other country can amuse themselves. (Or, at least, that might be a better descriptoin of today's World's Fairs now that international travel is so much more commonplace as to obviate any need for such Fairs.)

Some of the pavilions are interesting in that they come from places that don't exist in their 1937 form at all: French West Africa as a colony of France, which is now several countries; or the Soviet Union spring to mind. The other thing is knowing what was soon to come in world history, which is of course the European part of World War II. (Japan had already invaded China several years earlier.) So Paris on Parade is really a unique, if biased, historical document of the 1937 Exposition. And as with all of the Traveltalks shorts, it's in Technicolor too.

I don't think this particular Traveltalks edition has ever been included as a DVD extra anywhere, so you're going to have to catch it on TCM.

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