Don't feel bad for the lump in your throat when you return home to the Statue of Liberty...
There's little question that Warner Bros. aped the competition in the arena of travelogue short subjects, even if some of their footage looked suspiciously familiar. (Hmmm... didn't the Alpine skiing and Spanish bull scenes appear in earlier films?) The basic problem with the competition was that so much of it was repetitive: MGM's traveltalks with James FitzPatrick had boasted glorious Technicolor since 1934, but existed in a vacuum... making the fifties titles indistinguishable from the thirties ones. On the other hand, Warner made damn sure its audiences wouldn't snooze before the main feature. Even the most boring shot of the Eiffel Tower would be transformed into a rocket-like symbol of power and glory, thanks to the gusto "let's have fun!" narration of Art Gilmore or Marvin Miller and some slushy over-the-top orchestration directed by Howard Jackson, William Lava or Carl Stalling. Screenwriter Owen Crump learned a few lessons from doing "how-to" flicks for wartime servicemen: gotta keep 'em entertained at all times. Fittingly, this studio had no trouble taking over the Frank Baxter Bell Science shows in the later fifties.
This slightly "average" outing (average only for this studio) boasts the quadruple teaming of Andre de la Varre's stunning photography (which emphasizes people and critters over buildings... movies have to have movement, you know), Crump's joyous narrative (loaded with superlative adjectives), Lava's orchestral oomph (with plenty of "Blue Danube" and "We're in the Money" medley to remind us of where we are) and the almighty Miller (channeling his "Hemo the Magnificent" voice). We, the viewers, are practically DICTATED where to spend our European vacation. (Don't forget to pay homage to Normandy and those who fought for our nation. Oh, you MUST feed the pigeons on the Square of St. Mark's!). Yet, how can we resist? As Miller enthusiastically tells us while watching Venice "unfold" for us: "YOU are part of a moving masterpiece..."
Watching a bunch of WB travelogues in a row is a bit like watching a bunch of Joe McDoakes or Looney Tunes (which played along side these)... you don't realize how much time you've wasted having fun. Much of the hokey dialog adds to the enjoyment. Too bad only a select few are available online.
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