Categories: A Few Words About

A few words about…™ King of Jazz — in Blu-ray


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


Kevin Collins

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