The Rousing Revue “King of Jazz” Is Stunning Pre-Code Entertainment

When King of Jazz was released in 1930, audiences weren’t quite prepared for the barrage of sight and sound that this early Technicolor effort would thrust upon them. But who was the royalty mentioned in the title? Why that would be Paul Whiteman, a renowned bandleader who had become such a success in the 1920s that he and his band of musicians were chosen to be the focal point of this lavish motion picture experience that blended live performance with animation from Woody Woodpecker creator Walter Lantz and stunning visuals that perfectly accompanied the songs that were the film’s centerpiece. And what songs they were! Including such standards as “Happy Feet,” “Song of the Dawn,” “It Happened in Monterey,” the timeless “Rhapsody in Blue,” and more. (Be sure to catch Bing Crosby in his screen debut as one of The Rhythm Boys).

The new Criterion Collection release includes the following special features:

• New 4K digital restoration by Universal Pictures, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New audio commentary featuring jazz and film critic Gary Giddins, music and cultural critic Gene Seymour, and musician and bandleader Vince Giordano
• New introduction to the film by Giddins
• New interview with musician and pianist Michael Feinstein
• Four new video essays by authors and archivists James Layton and David Pierce on the development and making of King of Jazz
• Deleted scenes and alternate opening title sequence
All Americans, a 1929 short film featuring a version of the “Melting Pot” number that was restaged for King of Jazz
I Know Everybody and Everybody’s Racket, a 1933 short film featuring Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra
• Two Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons from 1930, featuring music and animation from King of Jazz
• An essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme

King of Jazz is now available for you to add to your home video library…and to cherish.