James A. FitzPatrick took film viewers to many unfamiliar places through the Traveltalks movie shorts he began producing in 1929, but the conclusion of those films was always familiar.
“And as the sun sinks slowly in the west, we bid a reluctant farewell to…,” he would say in his melodious voice as the final frames of a tropical beach rolled on the screen.
FitzPatrick wrote, produced and directed more than 200 of the Traveltalk films that were distributed through MGM, Paramount and Warner Bros. He may have been the first producer to use the technique of off-screen narration in films.
He once estimated that he covered more than 500,000 miles in producing his movies. Although critics said he viewed the world through rose-colored glasses, never reporting on ugliness or even minor annoyances, FitzPatrick maintained that showing young people the bright side of life would put them on the track to more constructive thinking.
Before going into film, FitzPatrick taught drama at a children’s acting academy in Brooklyn. He produced a series of movies performed entirely by children before he came to Hollywood and made a series of films on famous American authors.
He formed his own company in 1944 and continued to produce Traveltalks until 1955. After that, he made travel films for television and non-theatrical markets.