1934 Colombia in 3D – by STEAMSHIP!

When Tru Vue started out, they didn’t know exactly what they were going to do. Their first group of 3D films were six newsreel-style strips, with a variety of content on each one. This concept didn’t last long, and they started to foray into other focal areas – travel, people, events. The 1933 Century of Progress International Exposition provided them with an audience – and they started experimenting with even more formats. By the end of that year, they’d produced plenty of “tourist” films, such as Brooklyn Series I & II, Philadelphia, Utah State Parks I & II, and so on. But they were also delving into advertising – creating custom films for clients ranging from a refrigerator factory to a local girls’ school to Agfa Film. They continued this practice throughout their existence, although travel films, children’s interest films, and a few saucier films for the adults dominated their catalogues.

But who says you can’t mix business with pleasure? Take a look at the title frame from the 1934 “Colombia” strip:

Why fly, when you can take a cruise on a Colombian Steamship Lines pleasure boat?

There’s a little information about Colombia, including a very exact estimate as to the amount of land it occupies, as well a suggestion for how to get there. Keep this suggestion in mind as you look through the slides – you just might see it once again! And if you do go to Colombia, you just might want to take Colombian Steamship Lines to get there!

This is not the only Tru Vue filmstrip to combine a travel adventure with a little advertising; at some point, we’ll have to look at the Fred Harvey Grand Canyon series (and its… interesting… portrayals of American Indians). But besides the blatant advertising, padding their pockets both with sponsor money and with the 35¢ per roll that Tru Vue cost, these are still really fun images. I had no idea, for example, that the Spanish Inquisition reached all the way over to South America. Or that monkeys were a popular purchase by tourists visiting Colombia (were they allowed on Colombian Steamship Lines?). While we don’t get to see much of what’s talked about in the probably-copied-from-the-Encyclopædia-Britannica opening slide, we do get some great views of a country many of us are not familiar with – I’m lucky enough to have some photographer friends who’ve been to Colombia, and say it’s beautiful country. We mostly see city here, of course, but still – interesting stuff.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at Colombia in 1934, as shown to us by the fine people at Tru Vue:

So, we have some travelers leaving a steamship, waiting for a taxi thereafter, heading to a particular hotel (could the owner be Colombian Steamship Lines?), some various travel shots including a fort, a bazaar, the House of the Inquisition, some of the “better” native homes, the home of the President of the Colombian Steamship Lines, a monkey… and in case you missed it, they’re all at a slight angle.

I have several Tru Vue rolls like this – where every frame is tilted – and I think I know the reason for it. They’re lined up topwise across the frame, but otherwise have a distinct slant – and I think it’s an error in the printing method. My much later (and even contrastier) print of this Colombia set made in 1940 does not suffer from it, but both of my sets printed from this master (6 26 4 A) are crooked like this – leading me to believe that it was an easy-to-make error in creating the master, based on my best guess at how the 5×7″ negatives were transposed onto the 35mm filmstrips. I won’t bore you with the details… yet, until I can confirm some things.

In any case, an overall enjoyable experience for (back then, 35¢; today, a bit more) – and a chance to further deconstruct the Tru Vue company! And in case you had any doubts based on the content alone:

Left frame: the print master designation, in this case designating that it is the first of (unknown) masters created on 26 June 1934. Right frame: the standard final frame, with a little something extra: “Made for COLOMBIAN STEAMSHIP LINES”.

ANAGLYPHS (Click for larger gallery)

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