King of Jazz 1930
"King of Jazz" isn’t the typical sort of musical you might be familiar with where song and dance numbers are strung around a narrative-led drama. Instead it’s a theatrical style revue/variety show, where we watch a series of disconnected musical numbers, comedy skits and other vaudeville acts. Linking them all is Paul Whiteman, the titular King of Jazz, who was a hugely popular bandleader at the time, selling millions of records and appearing in high end concerts around America. The only framing device of the film is Paul Whiteman’s Scrap Book, a huge book that holds the titles to each segment.

Made during the early years of the movie musical, this exuberant revue was one of the most extravagant, eclectic, and technically ambitious Hollywood productions of its day.

BD50, 2xDVD9 | 1080p AVC, NTSC | 01:40:22 | 43.5 Gb + 12 Gb
Language: English
Subtitles: English
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Music, Musical

Director: John Murray Anderson
Cast: Paul Whiteman, John Boles, Laura La Plante
Country: USA


Commentary - this fantastic audio commentary features jazz and film critic Gary Giddins, music critic Gene Seymour, and musician and bandleader Vince Giordano. The three gentleman discuss in great detail the socio-cultural environment in which King of Jazz was directed, the pros and cons of various numbers from the film, Paul Whiteman's image and working methods as well as his impact on the evolution of jazz music, the careers of many of the legendary musicians that were part of his band, etc.

Deleted Scenes - presented here are three comedy sketches that were not included in the 1930 original version of King of Jazz, but were included in the 1933 re-release version, as well as a couple of different opening sequences. In English, not subtitled.

Gary Giddins - in this brand new video interview, jazz and film critic Gary Giddins discusses the visual style and narrative construction of King of Jazz as well as the influence that Paul Whiteman and his band had on the evolution of jazz music in America. The interview was recorded exclusively for Criterion in 2017. In English, not subtitled. (17 min, 1080p).

Michael Feinstein - in this new video interview, musician and pianist Michael Feinstein talks about his love for King of Jazz and discusses the work and legacy of Paul Whiteman as well as the many musicians and composers that worked with him and contributed to John Murray Anderson's film. The interview was recorded exclusively for Criterion in 2017. In English, not subtitled. (20 min, 1080p).

James Layton and David Pierce - presented here are four video essays from James Layton and David Pierce, the authors of King of Jazz: Paul Whiteman's Technicolor Revue, which contain various vintage materials related to John Murray Anderson and the production history of his film. Also included is the original music score for the film's cartoon prologue. In English, not subtitled.

All Americans (1929) - this short, directed by Joseph Santley and shot at Paramount's Astoria Studios in Queens, New York, presents John Murray Anderson's "The Melting Pot of Music" number as staged as a live prologue for Paramount-Publix theaters. In English, not subtitled. (19 min, 1080p).

I Know Everybody and Everybody's Racket (1933) - this short was produced by Universal Pictures and stars columnist Walter Winchell and Paul Whiteman and his band. In English, not subtitled. (22 min, 1080p).

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit - the character of Oswald the Lucky Rabitt was created by Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney in 1927 for a series of cartoons originally distributed by Universal Pictures. The character also appeared in the sketch "A Fable in Jazz" in King of Jazz, animated by Walter Lantz and Bill Nolan. After King of Jazz's release, some Oswald cartoons featured music and animation from the film. Presented here are two such cartoons.

1. "My Pal Paul" (1930), featuring an animated Paul Whiteman. (7 min, 1080p).
2. "Africa' (1930), featuring animation from King of Jazz. (6 min, 1080p).