For cinema fans, this is one of the early wonders. 4 Stars

Yup.

Even “Stumpy,” from Rio Bravo was young-ish once.

Appearing in one of the quicky vignettes, you’ll find Walter Brennan.

How about a Bing Crosby in what I believe to be his first film appearance?

Universal has done cinephiles a huge favor. A major studio supporting the restoration of a film that on its face has more historical than entertainment value.

But today’s audiences discovered that the now 87 year-old production could be fun, as it toured the festival circuit.

Filmed in two-color (let’s please not call it 2-strip, as it was a single strand of film, with two exposures for each frame (over/under), King of Jazz is a beautiful artifact of the end of that Technicolor era.

Generally, used sparingly, and usually for sequences, we’ll put things in perspective.

In 1930, there appear to have been 29 films using the process, with 13 using it for sequences only.

Many don’t survive, or survive partially, in black & white, or as discs only.

Bottom line, for those with a desire to experience the process, at least in full quality, King of Jazz is a rarity.

Warner’s 1932 Doctor X, and 1933 Mystery of the Wax Museum have survived as release prints.

King of Jazz is substantially based upon camera negative, with portions from other elements.

Possibly because it was also rarely used at Universal, survival (by chance or luck) leaves us in good stead.

The earlier sequence from the 1925 Phantom of the Opera, survives as camera negative.

And if my sources are correct, it would not be until 1942 (with 3-strip) that the studio would again visit the technology with Arabian Nights, 1943 for Cobra Woman and the re-make of Phantom of the Opera and White Savage.

We can thank Criterion for licensing the project, and crating a superb Blu-ray, spine number 915, for those who keep track of such things.

For cinema fans, this is one of the early wonders.

Image – various – 4.5 – 5 for original material

Audio – 4

Pass / Fail – Pass

Highly Recommended

RAH

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Matt Hough

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I really cannot wait to have this in hand. I LOVE those studio revues of the early sound era (well, Warners' Show of Shows not so much), and this is one of the great ones. I wish Universal would also restore and release Paramount on Parade as it really has some wonderful musical highlights, too.
 

bigshot

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I think King of Jazz is also the first time a color cartoon was made. I asked Walter Lantz about it once and he told me that they didn't know what kind of paint to use on the cels. On King of Jazz they used house paint for the colors and it was a huge mess. The paint shrank and pulled back from the lines as it dried leaving gaps. Lots of corrections needed. But the animation by Bill Nolan is fantastic.
 

Robert Harris

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I think King of Jazz is also the first time a color cartoon was made. I asked Walter Lantz about it once and he told me that they didn't know what kind of paint to use on the cels. On King of Jazz they used house paint for the colors and it was a huge mess. The paint shrank and pulled back from the lines as it dried leaving gaps. Lots of corrections needed. But the animation by Bill Nolan is fantastic.
Weren’t there a couple of two-color Betty Boop’s that followed not too long after?
 
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aPhil

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The review mentions 1932 2-color "Doctor X" surviving as a release print.
From what source does the Black & White version of 1932 "Doctor X" survive, as I would really like to see it.
 

Lord Dalek

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I think King of Jazz is also the first time a color cartoon was made. I asked Walter Lantz about it once and he told me that they didn't know what kind of paint to use on the cels. On King of Jazz they used house paint for the colors and it was a huge mess. The paint shrank and pulled back from the lines as it dried leaving gaps. Lots of corrections needed. But the animation by Bill Nolan is fantastic.
This is quite possible. At the very least, it beat Flip the Frog in "Fiddlesticks" to release by six months.
 

Charles Smith

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Greatly looking forward, for both technological and musical content.
 

Will Krupp

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The review mentions 1932 2-color "Doctor X" surviving as a release print.
From what source does the Black & White version of 1932 "Doctor X" survive, as I would really like to see it.
It was somewhere here on HTF where I first heard that the B&W version was a differently shot, unique version. Back in the early 80's I can remember a B&W version of it playing on our local PBS station and the host mentioning that it was originally in color. Whether this was the differently shot black and white version or just a monochrome version of the original color version I don't know. I've never seen it anywhere since and it's never been released anywhere, to my knowledge. I would like to see it, too.

That SAME PBS channel also played MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM but obviously didn't realize it was supposed to be in color. When playing B&W movies in those days, channels would often reduce the "color" in the signal so as to avoid that annoying pink "shimmer" that would sometimes appear in B&W NTSC broadcasts (anyone remember Lucy Ricardo's dresses?) and they did that to WAX, resulting in there being just the TINIEST bit of color for the first two thirds. Someone obviously realized their mistake and it suddenly BLAZED into color for the finale. I was SO disappointed, heheh.
 
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Will Krupp

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No, it's a completely different version with alternate takes and camera angles. You can see some shots in the trailer.
In the days before good duping stock, trailers were almost always made up of alternate, unused takes. We're going on more than that, yes?

From imdb:
Contrary to Technicolor's edict, Warner Brothers also shot a black-and-white version of the film. The Technicolor version was shot by Ray Rennahan and the B&W version by Richard Towers. The camera angles of the the two versions are considerably different, with the Technicolor camera given priority for the best compositions. Two of these, for example, are Lee Tracy and Mae Busch in the house of prostitution scene and the sequence with Tracy in the skeleton room.
which sounds rather definitive (with the name of the cinematographer) that a second version was prepared. Again, I don't know it's whereabouts. Does anyone?

Then there's wikipedia:
During production, an alternative black-and-white version was shot and still exists, although side-by-side comparison shows that most takes between the two are the same. Differences in takes are minor, such as Tracy's ad lib with a skeleton in the closet, and Mae Busch's dialogue as a madam at a brothel. The black-and-white version was offered to exhibitors (much to Technicolor's dismay) as an alternative on the initial release of the film.
 
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Patrick McCart

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All the clips I've seen look like a lot of fun. Something about two-color Technicolor adds this stylized element that really looks neat. Definitely looking forward to checking this out.

Criterion and Universal also collaborated on the 1928 part-silent/part-talkie Lonesome, which is another obscure gem that got a terrific release.
 

Bob Furmanek

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The black and white version is out there. I think it ran on early cable back in the TBS days and is floating around among collectors.
 
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Jack Theakston

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I have a copy of the B&W transfer, which used to be the more commonly-seen version of the film on TV until MGM/UA did a transfer of the color version in the late '80s. They're definitely two different films, with different camera setups, takes and editing flow. As far as I know, WB has the elements on the B&W version, too.
 

Tony Bensley

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I have a copy of the B&W transfer, which used to be the more commonly-seen version of the film on TV until MGM/UA did a transfer of the color version in the late '80s. They're definitely two different films, with different camera setups, takes and editing flow. As far as I know, WB has the elements on the B&W version, too.
It's too bad that the alternate Black & White version couldn't have been included as a bonus feature!

CHEERS! :)