In the last couple of days I’ve come across a couple of fascinating short films about New Orleans. They were produced a few months apart in 1940 and 1941 and both are in color.
The first is a short documentary that James A. Fitzpatrick made for MGM. The beginning is missing, but the rest of it seems to be intact. It was made as part of the “Travel Talk” series, but comes off more as a social studies lesson. A lot of focus on the the Mississippi and shipping. Great scenes of Cafe du Monde, the Roosevelt Hotel, and the “new” Charity Hospital. The shots of bustling Canal Street, when compared to the present, are rather sad. Not surprisingly, after viewing the short, you wouldn’t know that New Orleans including Bourbon Street or working class neighborhoods. You can view it on YouTube.
The other was made a few months later during the Mardi Gras celebration in late February 1941. The film quality and color are quite remarkable. There is no sound, but music featuring George Lewis and Johnny Dodds provides appropriate musical accompaniment. It includes a children’s krewe and the first female krewe (Venus). Alas, it would be the last Mardi Gras celebration until after World War II. You can view it here.