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King of Jazz

King of Jazz
Directed by John Murray Anderson
Produced by Carl Laemmle Jr.
Written by Charles MacArthur
Harry Ruskin
Starring Paul Whiteman
John Boles
Laura La Plante
Jeanette Loff
Bing Crosby
Al Rinker
Harry Barris
William T. Kent
Music by James Dietrich
Billy Rose
Milton Ager
George Gershwin
Mabel Wayne
Jack Yellen
Cinematography Jerome Ash
Hal Mohr
Ray Rennahan
Edited by Robert Carlisle
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • April 19, 1930 (1930-04-19)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,000,000 (estimated)

King of Jazz is a 1930 American color film starring Paul Whiteman and his orchestra. The film title was taken from Whiteman's controversial, self-conferred appellation. Although using the word to describe Whiteman's music may seem absurd today, at the time the film was made, "jazz", to the general public, meant the jazz-influenced syncopated dance music which was being heard everywhere on phonograph records and through radio broadcasts. Lending his title a measure of legitimacy is the fact that in the 1920s Whiteman signed and featured great white jazz musicians including Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang (both are seen and heard in the film), Bix Beiderbecke (who had left before filming began), Frank Trumbauer and others still held in high regard.

King of Jazz was filmed entirely in the early two-color Technicolor process and was produced by Carl Laemmle Jr. for Universal Pictures. The movie featured several songs sung on camera by the Rhythm Boys (Bing Crosby, Al Rinker and Harry Barris), as well as off-camera solo vocals by Crosby during the opening credits and, very briefly, during a cartoon sequence. King of Jazz still survives in a near-complete color print and is not a lost film, unlike many contemporary musicals that now exist only either in incomplete form or as black-and-white reduction copies.

In 2013 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

King of Jazz is a revue. There is no story, only a series of musical numbers alternating with "blackouts" (very brief comedy sketches with abrupt punch line endings) and other short introductory or linking segments.

  • April 19, 1930 (1930-04-19)
  • A specialty number featuring Nell O'Day, with unknown music, set in a cabaret lobby.
  • A segment featuring Grace Hayes singing My Lover.


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