6.8/10
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37 user 27 critic

King of Jazz (1930)

Not Rated | | Animation, Comedy, Music | 20 April 1930 (USA)
American Pre-Code color film starring Paul Whiteman and his Jazz orchestra.

Directors:

John Murray Anderson, Walter Lantz (uncredited)

Writer:

Harry Ruskin (comedy sketches)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Whiteman ... Paul Whiteman
John Boles ... Vocalist ('Song of the Dawn' / 'It Happened in Monterey')
Laura La Plante ... Editor ('Ladies of the Press') / Stenographer ('In Conference') / Quartet Member, 'Nellie'
Jeanette Loff ... Vocalist ('It Happened in Monterey' / 'Bridal Veil' / 'A Bench in the Park')
Glenn Tryon ... Executive ('In Conference') / Unmarried Husband / Husband ('A Dash of Spice')
William Kent William Kent ... General ('All Noisy on the Eastern Front') / Goldfish Owner ('Oh! Forevermore!') / Unmarried Couple's Offspring / Meek Husband ('Do Things For You') / Man in Closet ('A Dash of Spice')
Slim Summerville ... Automobile Owner ('Springtime') / Rear End of Horse / Charles
The Rhythm Boys ... Vocal Group
Kathryn Crawford ... Fourth Reporter ('Ladies of the Press') / Wife ('A Dash of Spice')
Carla Laemmle ... Chorine (as Beth Laemmle)
Stanley Smith ... Bridegroom ('Bridal Veil' / 'A Bench in the Park')
George Chiles George Chiles ... Dancer ('It Happened in Monterey' / Vocalist 'A Bench in the Park' / 'Ragamuffin Romeo')
Jack White Jack White ... Jack White
Frank Leslie Frank Leslie ... Quartet Lead Singer ('Nellie')
Walter Brennan ... Desk Sergeant ('Springtime') / Soldier ('All Noisy on the Eastern Front') / Waiter ('Oh! Forevermore!') / Front End of Horse / Quartet Member ('Nellie')
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Storyline

This revue presents its numbers around the orchestra leader Paul Whiteman, besides that it shows in it's final number that the European popular music are the roots of American popular music, called Jazz. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Red-Hot Riot of Life, Love and Laughter! (Print Ad- Edmonton Journal, ((Edmonton, Alta.)) 31 July 1930) See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 April 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The King of Jazz Revue See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Color (2-strip Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A comedy sequence, titled "A Dash of Spice" featuring Kathryn Crawford, Glenn Tryon, William Kent and Sunny Jim McKeen, is partially missing from the surviving material but has been reconstructed in the restoration. See more »

Goofs

The Rhythm Boys and The Sisters G sing Yellen & Ager's " Happy FEET". But the number is introduced in a stop-motion sequence with the title "Happy SHOES". See more »

Quotes

Paul Whiteman: No record of American music could be complete without George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, which was written for the Whiteman Orchestra and first played at the Aeolian Hall, in 1924. The most primitive and most modern musical elements are combined in this rhapsody.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Restored in 2016 with a running time of 99 minutes. This version replicates the scene continuity of the 1930 release version, including about a minute of exit music. A small amount of footage was not found and is covered by still photographs. This is the version that played at the Museum of Modern Art and Film Forum in 2016, and was released by the Criterion Collection on Blu-Ray and DVD in 2018. See more »


Soundtracks

Has Anybody Seen Our Nellie?
(uncredited)
Music by Milton Ager
Lyrics by Jack Yellen
Performed by a barbershop quartet (Frank Leslie, Churchill Ross, Walter Brennan and John Arledge)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Truly the oddest of the early sound revues
3 July 2016 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

1930's King of Jazz is the strangest and most surreal of the early sound cycle of movie studio revues. Very few films shot completely in two-strip Technicolor survive - this is one of them. Warner Bros. probably made the most all-Technicolor films in the early sound era, but since most of them were Vitaphone the films have long since been lost in most cases.

The 1929 and 1930 early sound revues were made by the studios primarily to showcase their talent in an all-talking setting. MGM's "Hollywood Revue of 1929" started the cycle, and did a pretty good job. However, other studios lost sight of the goal and the revues that followed were often clumsily put together and didn't even showcase talent that belonged to the studio.

"The King of Jazz" is a surprise not only because it holds up so well with time, but because it is such a non-typical product for Universal Studios of that era. Universal of the 20's and 30's mainly made westerns for rural moviegoers with an occasional prestige picture and they were beginning to dabble in the horror genre for which the studio is most remembered. However, at this time they were also known for their thrift, which went out the window when they made this film. The film starts out with a cartoon showing how Paul Whiteman - who called himself The King of Jazz - discovered Jazz. What follows are a sequence of musical and comedy routines. This film doesn't make the mistake of trying to sew the numbers together with some maudlin backstage melodrama. It simply presents the numbers in sequence. Most of the talent here is not under long-term contract to Universal. Laura LaPlante is one of the rare exceptions to that rule. The musical numbers are a delight and it is great to see Bing Crosby at the very beginning of his career. The Brox Sisters light up this film just as they did MGM's revue with "Singin in the Rain". The whole thing is so lively and done with with such innovation and energy considering the static camera of the early talkie era that I can't believe Universal has never thought to put this on DVD. They made this one great musical and didn't really make another one until 1936's "Showboat".

My favorite number is "Song of the Dawn" featuring handsome John Boles with his piercing eyes in close up during most of the number belting out a song with that wonderful tenor voice of his. The most memorable number though has got to be "Happy Feet" with dancing shoes and the Sisters G as singing heads in a shoebox. This number also has the aptly named Al "Rubber Legs" Norman showing us the moon dance 28 years before Michael Jackson was even born.

Highly recommended for the fun of it all.


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