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Zion Canyon of Colour

Zion Canyon of Colour(1934)

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teaser Zion Canyon of Colour (1934)

James A. FitzPatrick inaugurated his long-running Traveltalks series in 1930; by the time of Zion, Canyon of Colour (1934), he had produced nearly fifty of them. Short travelogues, under ten minutes in length, the Traveltalks were enormously popular for twenty-five years. The first few dozen were shot in black and white, but with Holland in Tulip Time (1934), FitzPatrick shifted to three-strip Technicolor; Zion was the third to be filmed in the process.

And it's no accident that its subtitle is "Canyon of Colour." Three-strip Technicolor was a major selling point at this time because it was otherwise only visible in a few other short subjects, cartoons and segments of feature films. For audiences who had never been to Utah's Zion National Park or seen anything but black and white images of it, the effect was truly eye-popping.

Shot by cinematographer Wilfrid Cline, a specialist in early Technicolor and veteran of several Traveltalks episodes, the film features spectacular footage of the park as FitzPatrick offers typically florid descriptions and historical perspective in his narration. It's "the land of Uncle Sam," he says, "where Mother Nature, the most patient of builders, has created an awe-inspiring pageant of history."

Zion, Canyon of Colour was filmed in July 1934, and released four months later, on November 27.

By Jeremy Arnold

SOURCES:
Douglas Bell, Oral History with Hal Elias (AMPAS Oral History Program)
Douglas Bell, Oral History with Richard Goldstone (AMPAS Oral History Program)
Thomas Meehan, "Those Old Movie Travelogues, Or, 'As the Sun Sinks Slowly In the West, We Bid Farewell...'" The New York Times, Nov. 28, 1971
Variety obituary for James A. Fitzpatrick, June 18, 1980

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