King of Jazz Screen 4 articles

King of Jazz

1930

King of Jazz Poster
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    Film Comment: R. Emmet Sweeney
    March 03, 2018 | March/April 2018 Issue (p. 75)

    A forgotten pop artifact painstakingly restored to its "two-strip" Technicolor glory, King of Jazz is a jaw-droppingly garish revue of songs and comedy sketches. . . . A technical marvel, the film utilizes the first Technicolor animation, and expert use of superimposition and crane shots.

  • No film shows off early Technicolor better, as audiences have been finding out this year. Directed by innovative Broadway veteran John Murray Anderson (his sole film as director) and made to promote the talents of bandleader Paul Whiteman, the king of the title, it’s a revue of stunning lavishness and quite a bit of historical importance. (It was, for one thing, the film debut of a crooner name Bing Crosby.)

  • It has a potpourri of special effects to enliven musical numbers – super-impositions, imaginative sets for the dancers, and more. But the camera, shackled by the as yet not fully understood demands of sound too often stares blandly from front on, never joining in the dance. The film was not a success on its release, and now is much more a curiosity, a brief time capsule of popular variety entertainment of the time.

  • A significant movie restoration not only can return a film’s patina of newness but its place in film history as well. That may be the case when the musical revue “King of Jazz” (1930), brought back to something of its original splendor, emerges from the vaults in the soft, shimmering red and green tones of early Technicolor.

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