King of Jazz


Animation / Comedy / Music / Musical

Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 62%
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 1006


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
July 10, 2018 at 08:19 PM


Bing Crosby as One of the Rhythm Boys)
Walter Brennan as Desk Sergeant
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
815.52 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 39 min
P/S 0 / 2
1.57 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 39 min
P/S 2 / 7

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by mgconlan-1 9 / 10

A masterpiece! One of the very best early musicals

Universal spent over a year making this movie -- Paul Whiteman's band set forth for Hollywood on a chartered train called the "Old Gold Special" in January 1929 (Old Gold Cigarettes sponsored his CBS radio program) and arrived, ready to work, only to find that no one at Universal had bothered to come up with a script. Seven months later he headed himself and his band back to New York after telling the "suits" at Universal he wasn't coming back until there was a finished script and the film was ready to shoot. During the stand-down Whiteman lost the best musician he ever had, Bix Beiderbecke, to Bix's chronic alcoholism, and Universal lost the originally assigned director, Paul Fejos, when he had a nervous breakdown while shooting another film. By the time Whiteman returned, the Great Depression had hit, the Zeitgeist had changed and the American people weren't in the mood for lavish musicals anymore. So "King of Jazz" became a legendary box-office flop.

It's a fate the movie didn't deserve: though there are a few scenes in which director John Murray Anderson falls back on the typical long-shots of chorus lines that make them look like ants on a wedding cake, for the most part his direction is vividly imaginative, fully the equal of what Busby Berkeley was doing on his first film, "Whoopee," another all-color musical being filmed at the same time. Anderson gives us numbers from overhead, from side angles, and uses the swooping camera movements of the so-called "'Broadway' Crane" (invented by cinematographer Hal Mohr and director Paul Fejos for Universal's 1929 film of the hit musical "Broadway") to deliver dazzling images and splendors to delight the eye and avoid the static quality of many of the early musicals. Anderson had come to Hollywood from his experience directing most of the Ziegfeld Follies on stage and running an acting school that trained Bette Davis and Lucille Ball, and for this film he was given virtually unprecedented authority. "King of Jazz" should have been his ticket to a major film career, but instead after its failure he retreated to the stage and only worked on two more films, the 1944 Esther Williams vehicle "Bathing Beauty" (for which he staged the incredible final number, often misattributed to Berkeley!) and Cecil B. DeMille's circus drama "The Greatest Show on Earth" (1953). It's a crime against culture that Anderson wasn't given the job of directing "The Great Ziegfeld" (1936), since he knew Ziegfeld's style (indeed, had helped create it) and he knew how to make a movie; an Anderson-directed "Great Ziegfeld" could have been a masterpiece instead of the ponderous bore (redeemed only by the acting of William Powell and Myrna Loy) MGM and hack director Robert Z. Leonard actually gave us.

"King of Jazz" was one of the handful of revues (a Broadway term for a musical with no plot) filmed in 1929 and 1930, including MGM's "Hollywood Revue of 1929," Warner Bros.' "The Show of Shows," Fox's "Fox Movietone Follies of 1929," and Paramount's "Paramount on Parade." (There was also a British version, "Elstree Calling," in which the framing scenes showing actor Gordon Harker tuning in variety performers on an early TV were directed by Alfred Hitchcock, who didn't think the assignment was important enough to put the film on his official résumé.) But "King of Jazz" is better than all of them, even though Universal's list of contract players was far less illustrious than those of their major-studio competitors (the biggest "names" in this movie who weren't part of Whiteman's organization were Laura LaPlante and John Boles). It helps that the comedy scenes between the big musical numbers are kept to a minimum, and are short, genuinely funny and surprisingly racy for a 1930 film. The only thing that badly dates this movie (and led me to rate it 9 instead of 10) are the unfunny and badly dated novelty songs, including "Oh, How I'd Love to Own a Fish Store," "Has Anybody Here Seen Nellie?" and Wilbur Hall's performance of "Stars and Stripes Forever" on a bicycle pump.

"King of Jazz" is a towering musical masterpiece, rivaled only by "Whoopee" at the top of the heap for pre-"42nd Street" musicals. (The Lubitsch and Mamoulian films for Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald are in a separate category altogether.) The film is a tribute to the genius of its director, John Murray Anderson, though the one Academy Award it won was for its art director, Herman Rosse, probably the first individual ever to win an Oscar for an all-color film. "King of Jazz" is a music that will dazzle you with spectacular moment after spectacular moment, including the "Rhapsody in Blue" sequence that, along with the "New York Rhapsody" sequence in the 1931 film "Delicious," does more justice to George Gershwin's music than any sequence using it until the 1951 ballet in "An American in Paris."

Reviewed by calvinnme 9 / 10

Truly the oddest of the early sound revues

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.

Reviewed by lugonian 8 / 10

The Paul Whiteman Scrapbook

THE KING OF JAZZ (Universal, 1930), directed by John Murray Anderson, is the fourth and final of Hollywood's all star musical revues during the 1929-30 season, and ranks the most impressive of the four, outdoing MGM's THE Hollywood REVUE OF 1929 (1929); Warners THE SHOW OF SHOWS (1929) and PARAMOUNT ON PARADE (1930). Filmed in early two-strip Technicolor, it is fortunate to have survived after all these years with color footage intact since most color footage used during the early sound films, mostly musicals, are either lost or exist today solely in black and white. The titled character goes to band-leader, Paul Whiteman, in his feature movie debut, but THE KING OF JAZZ is remembered today only as the motion picture debut of Bing Crosby, who, in reality, mainly appears as part of the Rhythm Boys in a couple of musical skits.

Virtually plot less, the revue opens with Crosby's off-screen vocalizing of "Music Hath Charms" during the opening credits. This is followed by Charles Irwin standing in as master of ceremonies. After introducing himself, he goes on to tell and show how Paul Whiteman became crown "The King of Jazz." A cartoon segment follows (compliments of Walter Lantz, the creator of Woody Woodpecker), which shows Whiteman himself hunting in darkest Africa being chased by a lion. After a merry chase, Whiteman sooths the savage beast by playing music with his violin to the tune, "Music Hath Charms". After an elephant squirts water through its trunk on a monkey up a tree, the angry monkey throws a coconut towards the elephant, which, in turn, hits Whiteman instead. The bump on his head thus forms into a crown. Then comes the introduction of th Paul Whiteman Band, who present themselves by playing individual tunes with their instruments. Production numbers and comedy skits follow. The most striking numbers are: "The Bridal Veil" which ends with costumed brides carrying the biggest veil ever made which covers the entire flight of stairs; the ten minute spectacle of Whiteman conducting his orchestra to George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," and the "Happy Feet" number, sung by The Sisters "G", which has chorus girls descending onto a large-scale miniature of New York City, highlighted by the eccentric rubber-legged dancing of Al Norman which should be seen to be believed!

Other songs presented include: "The Lord Delivered Daniel" (sung by the cartoonish Paul Whiteman) "Mississippi Mud" and "So the Bluebirds and the Blackbirds Got Together" (both sung by The Rhythm Boys: Bing Crosby, Harry Barris and Al Rinker); "It Happened in Monterey" (sung by John Boles); "Oh, How I Would Like to Own a Fish Store" (sung by Jack White); "A Bench in the Park" (sung by Glenn Tryon and Laura LaPlante, The Brox Sisters and the Rhythm Boys); "Ragamuffin Romeo" (sung by Jeanie Lang); "I Like to Do Things for You" (sung by Jeanie Lang to Paul Whiteman; Grace Hayes and William Kent; danced by Tommy Atkins Sextette with Nell O'Day); "Has Anyone Here Seen Nellie?" (sung by Churchill Ross, John Arledge, Frank Leslie and Walter Brennan with his wriggling ear); "The Song of the Dawn" (sung by John Boles); and the finale, "The Melting Pot Medley." Brief comedy skits include THE DAILY MEOW with Laura LaPlante, Jeanie Lang, Merna Kennedy, Grace Hayes and Kathryn Crawford; IN CONFERENCE with Glenn Tryon, Laura LaPlante and Merna Kennedy; SPRING TIME with Slim Summerville, Yola d'Avril and Walter Brennan; ALL NOISY ON THE EASTERN FRONT with Yola d'Avril, Slim Summerville, Walter Brennan, others; FOREVER MORE with William Kent as the drunk, and Walter Brennan as the butler; the risqué, A MEETING WITH FATHER with Slim Summerville meeting his future father-in-law (Otis Harlan) and how he feels about her (wait for the punchline and wonder how that got past the censors); and much more. There's also Joe Venito playing his wild violin to the tune, "Pop Goes the Weasal."

Unseen in many years, THE KING OF JAZZ was presented on television during the early years of cable TV circa 1984, and later that year distributed on video cassette, compliments of MCA/Universal with its excellent clear copy which makes it worth purchasing and having as a part of a movie lover's collection. For a while, THE KING OF JAZZ did enjoy frequent revivals on American Movie Classics in the early 1990s.

The biggest surprise about this revue is that it was released by Universal, the studio not known for lavish musicals, yet, coming out with the best of its kind. Aside from lavishness, it's quite advanced, especially with its camera techniques which remains impressive even today. The comedy skits might seem out of date, but are just a reminder as to what vaudeville was like and the humor that made its audiences chuckle way back when. Even similar comedy skits of long ago are still being used today, especially by stand-up comics or on current TV sit-coms which try to make old material fresh and original. One final note: the special effects. Although not a first in early sound cinema, the early portion of the film where Paul Whiteman introduces his orchestra by opening his suitcase, from which many tiny musicians emerge in front of the life-size face of Whiteman as he watches from behind, then growing to normal size, is quite impressive, considering the time frame this was made. Remember, this wasn't done by computers as it would be today.

THE KING OF JAZZ has many bonuses to impress a first-time viewer. The production gets better with each passing comedy skit and musical numbers. Like its predecessors, it predates the bygone era of TV's variety shows. And for die-hard Bing Crosby fans, even if the famous crooner doesn't have enough footage to call this movie his own, there's enough entertainment here by others to go around.(***)

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