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King of Jazz; Restored version
Topic Started: Mar 3 2018, 06:38 AM (873 Views)
outerlimit
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Is there any word on the forthcoming release of the restored version of King of Jazz ?
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JazzGuyy
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I posted a link to a review by DVD Beaver on the Upcoming Releases thread.
TANSTAAFL!
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outerlimit
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Thanks for that. It looks like a really interesting release.
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Bert Greene
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Oh, I pre-ordered this baby two to three weeks ago. I remember always reading about its ongoing restoration, which seemed to take years and years. I had doubts it would ever get completed. Then, when it was done, I suspected the film would just be trotted out for a few film festivals, and recede back into the woodwork. Never really expected a commercial release of it. I'm thrilled that my innate pessimism was thwarted. "Song of the Dawn" indeed.

This will actually be the first Criterion Blu-ray that I've purchased. I have four of their dvd releases, but this will be the first Blu-ray.
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The Batman
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Bert Greene
Mar 5 2018, 04:50 PM

This will actually be the first Criterion Blu-ray that I've purchased. I have four of their dvd releases, but this will be the first Blu-ray.

You'd be better off waiting for the Barnes & Noble sale in July. At that time, Criterions are 50% off, a substantial savings.

Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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Bert Greene
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Oh, I have nothing against sales. I often wait for them. But in this case, this is just something I want right away. I'm salivating at the prospect of seeing the restoration. Also, as a pretty big fan of vintage jazz and hot dance music, its siren-call is pretty strong with me. Even the extras sound extremely interesting. It's been over twenty years since I last saw the film itself. I had a tape copy from its AMC airing, but something happened to it. Anyway, this is also coming after a bit of a dry-spell for me, in terms of blu-rays that interested me. I think I've only gotten two blu discs over these past months (this doesn't count the immensely welcome Charley Chase dvd). So, I'm champing at the bit for something like this.

My grandmother mentioned once to me about going with her friends to Houston (about 120 miles away) to see Paul Whiteman in concert. After she passed away, I was going through boxes and boxes of paper miscellanea that she had. It included all sorts of mundane things like receipts, postcards, newspaper clippings, and such, from the 1920s and 1930s. Amidst all that, I did run across the 'program' to that Whiteman concert. I kept all those papers, putting them in new, airtight boxes. With this upcoming "King of Jazz" release, I decided today to hunt up that old program. It took quite a while but I found it.

It was from April 1933, and I see that Whiteman was sharing the bill with both The Boswell Sisters and comedian Jack Pearl at this event. Not surprisingly, Whiteman started out with "Rhapsody in Blue." It seems that Ramona (and her piano) was already with him at this time, as she performed "You're An Old Smoothie," "Darkness on the Delta," and "Some of These Days." Apparently both Paul Whiteman and Peggy Healy performed in Jack Pearl's skits, which were titled "The Road to Sing Sing" and "An Old Army Game." The Four Rhythm Boys (I'm not sure who these post-Crosby/Barris vocalists were by name) sang "How'm I Doin' Hey Hey" and "The Scat Song." Whiteman's orchestra itself performed "It Don't Mean a Thing" and "I Got Rhythm." The Boswells' songs aren't identified. Oh, and there are two dance specialities, by a miss Evelyn Olsen and a miss Sunny O'Dea. Whatta name. Cliff Hall seemed to accompany Pearl in his comedy bits, too. Anyway, I'm glad I ran across this thing. For some reason, I was thinking my grandmother's attendance was in 1930, the same year as the film, and I was curious to see if it included some of the tunes associated with it. But, it turned out to be 1933. I guess my memory is starting to weaken.
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The Batman
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Bert, we all have releases that must be immediately obtained, and sales be damned. In this case, KING OF JAZZ is that release. No need to explain.

I'm quite curious about it, myself, having never seen it. I'm thankful the next B&N sale is only 4+ months away and that I have other DVDs to keep me occupied in the meantime.

Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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Frank Hale
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I'm pretty much cost-be-damned on this one also.

"How'm I doin', hey, hey? Twee, twee, twee! Twa, twa!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_Knzwe15PY

Take that, Ed Koch.

As to "The Scat Song":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxEDbPsX44Y
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riddlerider
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I hope all the hype about King of Jazz doesn't prove self-defeating. I mean, it's a very good picture, and I'm told the restoration is stunning. But we're not talking the lost reels of Greed here. (Not that I care much about Greed.)

If I'd never seen the film I'd probably charge out and order the Criterion myself. As is, I can wait for the B&N sale.
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Frank Hale
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For me it's just a film I've been hearing or reading about it since I was old enough to turn on the television unassisted, and it's time I saw it.

So even if it turned out to be a total clunker, I think I'd be happy.

That warm, rosy glow from supporting a good film restoration doesn't hurt at all, either.
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The Batman
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Mr. Hale, I'm all for supporting good film restorations. Lord knows, I spent enough money on them. But if Criterion can afford to have B&N sell their discs at 50%, twice a year, it tells me they aren't hurting for funds.

If you want to support real grassroots restoration campaigns, then consider the worthy projects on Kickstarter.

I do realize, unfortunately, that most of the worthwhile projects on Kickstarter are for preserving and releasing silent films, usually in conjunction with the Library of Congress or other such institutions, and silents are not your forte (or it seems for many on this site, surprising, really) but these are projects where the profit is basically nonexistent.

I don't think Criterion is feeling that pinch.

Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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Frank Hale
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Mr. Bats, all I basically said was that I was particularly keen on seeing this film.

I'm in favor of the various kickstarter silent efforts, and I salute your flag-waving efforts, and to the extent of my financial abilities, try to support them.

Is there some other burr under your saddle? What's goin' on, bud?

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JazzGuyy
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A much more detailed review from CineSavant: https://trailersfromhell.com/king-of-jazz/
TANSTAAFL!
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Frank Hale
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Re Savant's review:

I've never had any more problem with Paul Whiteman being the "King Of Jazz" than Benny Goodman being the "King of Swing". They were both talented showmen.

Whiteman was all over the radio in the 30's and 40's, and musical director of the Blue Network for a while before ABC took over. He always came across as the most amiable fellow.

The one thing I would hold against him was beating "Rhapsody in Blue" totally into the ground. But my local classical station does the same thing: There isnít a week that goes by without an airing. (I may be forced to fast-forward through that part of the film.)

Anyway, he could be Borrah Minevitch or anyone else, and I would still want to see this film.

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Bert Greene
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Of course, the word 'jazz' was a bit more all-encompassing, in terms of its defining perimeters during that era of the 1920s, compared to the late-1930s onward. Just about any dance band which provided some hot solo work was popularly called jazz back in the 1920s. Which is why I always thought the snarky criticism of Whiteman's "King of Jazz" moniker to be overblown, and almost a kind of 'virtue signaling' (to use modern lingo) on the part of purists.

Having seen the film about three times, I'm under no illusions that the movie is more of a goofball curio than a four-star classic. But as goofball curios go, it's really something. Although I'm not particularly a big 'musicals' buff, there's something about these early-talkie 1929-30 examples I often find fascinating. From the revue-style items like "Paramount on Parade" (1930) to the often clever and engaging "Sunnyside Up" (1929), perhaps it's due to the still-lingering 1920s-style music mixed with a bit of quirky vaudeville creakiness. Whatever it is, it's a little niche I often find pretty intriguing (even if actual entertainment values vary wildly).

There was another bandleader-highlighted film preceding KOJ, with Warner Bros' 1929 Ted Lewis film "Is Everybody Happy?" But I think it's a lost film. From what I've read it was saddled with a 'Jazz Singer' like plotline involving family drama, which probably dragged it down a bit. British bandleader Jack Payne also had a film, "Say It With Music" (1932), which I'd like to see, but I have no idea if it survives.



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