Newest Reviews
Me You Madness
Reckoning, The
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Straight Shooting
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Iron Mask, The
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
Banishing, The
Drifters, The
Gushing Prayer
Escape from Coral Cove
Swan Princess, The
Newest Articles
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
  King of Jazz Happy Feet
Year: 1930
Director: John Murray Anderson
Stars: Paul Whiteman, John Boles, Bing Crosby, Harry Barris, Al Rinker, Charles Irwin, Al Norman, Marion Stattler, Don Rose, Walter Brennan, Slim Summerville, Laura La Plante, Glenn Tryon, Otis Harlan, William Kent, Frank Leslie, Jeanie Lang, Jack Fulton
Genre: Comedy, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mr Charles Irwin is delighted to introduce to you the scrapbook of the King of Jazz himself, Mr Paul Whiteman. But first, as we turn the pages we find the reason he got into the music by way of an animation that saw him venture to "Darkest Africa", where he was hunting big game. He attempted to shoot a lion, but the animal had other ideas and chased him across the plains, though there was a brighter side as the jazz he found there transformed his life. Now he can present his band, which he handily carries around in a travelling case - they hop out and the show can begin.

King of Jazz, eh? We'll be the judge of that! Although Whiteman - who was indeed a white man - cannot really lay claim to that title nowadays, and there are those who would query his use of the term at the time, he was a popular bandleader of his day, although this film intended to showcase him and his music wasn't much of a success on its release. If it is recalled today then that is because it featured none other than Bing Crosby in his film debut, here appearing with the Rhythm Boys.

You could say that as the screen musical had not been quite perfected in 1930, certainly not as far as the stage musical had, then performing the songs as a revue was the best method to go with, as happens here. Couple that with early Technicolor, which used red and blue, and this adds to the artificiality of the production. There is no story at all in this, merely a series of numbers broken up with some seriously dated sketches that couldn't have been especially hilarious at the time. That said, there is one good pre-Production Code joke involving pre-marital sex, but one laugh does not a knee-slapping gagfest make.

Better to concentrate on the tunes, which include some toe-tappers, and the dancing, which can be quite alarmingly energetic: see the "Ragamuffin Romeo" song, which has one woman flung about like a ragdoll. The film constitutes a neat amalgamation of the entertainment of the day, the kind of thing you would see if you went to a theatre to watch a show, although whether you would be lucky enough to hear Crosby (here impossibly fresh-faced) sing on your night out was a different matter, hence this production.

It's not all novelty acts as the centrepiece of the movie is a staging of George Gershwin's then-fairly new "Rhapsody in Blue" (though not with the man himself at the piano). Interestingly, like the Walter Lantz cartoon which opens the film, a link is made between the jazz music and Africa, as if the two were inseparable in the public's mind, so before the Rhapsody gets underway there's a couple of minutes of an all-in-black dancer, complete with huge headress, jumping around on a huge drum, pounding out "voodoo" rhythms as they're referred to. As for the Rhapsody itself, accompanying the classic strains there is a huge piano containing the band, and a chorus line marching about in time, which is more palatable for today's attitudes. If King of Jazz is a time capsule, it's a valuable one, an insight into the spectaculars of the era, where sound film was in its infancy.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 3734 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor


Last Updated: