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King of Jazz (1930)


antoniacarlotta
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Has anybody seen King of Jazz? It was recently restored (in one of the most expensive film restorations to date) and is absolutely beautiful. It screened at MOMA in May, and at Cinecon Classic Film Festival in Hollywood last week. 

 

I made a video about the film, which includes a few clips as well. I hope they release it on DVD or air it on TCM soon!

 

 

 

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I taped it off the old AMC about twenty years ago.  The 1930 early color had faded badly.  The new restored version should be very interesting.  There are many clips from the original on YouTube, but here is a clip from the restored version.  The quality is quite good.

 

 

 

The then-new 2-color Technicolor did not get blue tones so the colors are predominantly reds and greens and golds. Even the "Rhapsody in Blue" number was originally GREEN.....

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An extraordinary spectacle- so unlike anything that would be made today. The highlight tune of the film is Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue, performed by the orchestra that made it famous.

 

There was an element of pop-culture Surrealism to many of the scenes, like the big Paul Whiteman Orchestra playing inside a giant grand piano. And no, it was not "computer generated"; people had to live in work in the "real world" back then! Carpenters and painters had to actually create that set and build it in a big sound stage.

 

The colors from that early 2 strip Technicolor process look soft, dreamy and surreal as well. It's almost like watching a cartoon. In parts, it's even early psychedelia, evocative of the art of the 60's!

 

It's a plotless "cavalcade" film, featuring a lot of what looks like vaudeville routines and stars, interspersed with elaborate musical numbers.

 

This film is a little known and seldom seen gem from that era. I've seen a portion of the restoration and it took my breath away- it is a vast improvement and very likely to help generate renewed interest in this almost forgotten treasure!

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I think there is a decent chance that the new restoration of this film might air on TCM next year. It may even be released as part of a TCM Vault collection set.

 

The 14 Silents that Universal are currently restoring probably will also be offered through the Vault collection. THE LAST WARNING (1929) restoration was completed some months ago.

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I think there is a decent chance that the new restoration of this film might air on TCM next year. It may even be released as part of a TCM Vault collection set.

 

The 14 Silents that Universal are currently restoring probably will also be offered through the Vault collection. THE LAST WARNING (1929) restoration was completed some months ago.

 

I was in contact with Charles Tabesh of TCM programming last spring about the MOMA restoration of The Last Warning. He said he would look into the possibility of a broadcast on TCM but said it was complicated by the fact that it was a silent which would require the extra expense of a musical score. I haven't heard anything about it since.

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I was in contact with Charles Tabesh of TCM programming last spring about the MOMA restoration of The Last Warning. He said he would look into the possibility of a broadcast on TCM but said it was complicated by the fact that it was a silent which would require the extra expense of a musical score. I haven't heard anything about it since.

 

Without a music score, it's unlikely to be a candidate. In almost all cases, TCM will pay a licensing fee for a silent only if the music score is a done deal.

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Without a music score, it's unlikely to be a candidate. In almost all cases, TCM will pay a licensing fee for a silent only if the music score is a done deal.

 

I was a little confused by Tabesh's statement since, if they got the MOMA version of The Last Warning, it would already have a musical score attached to it (I assume MOMA didn't show a silent version of a silent).

 

Television copyright issues regarding the musical soundtrack?

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I was a little confused by Tabesh's statement since, if they got the MOMA version of The Last Warning, it would already have a musical score attached to it (I assume MOMA didn't show a silent version of a silent).

 

Television copyright issues regarding the musical soundtrack?

 

More likely the film is mute and was accompanied with live music by Ben Model etc. I think it unlikely that MoMA would bother with a score for its restored films since its main goal is to show them on site, not make DVDs or sell to TCM. But anything is possible.

 

In some cases, the late silent films had synchronized scores that could pose copyright issues.

 

It's also possible that a silent film restored with a score has a contract that precludes its being sold to TV. In other words, the contracted use of the score has limitations.

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Here is a short segment showing the breathtaking restored version. The contrast with older prints of this film are stunning.

 

Surrealism was not just the domain of "fine artists" like Dali. There was a lot of pop-culture Surrealism in Hollywood films as well. A whole orchestra appearing out of a giant grand piano represents a surrealist imagination.

 

 

 

How do you embed a video on this site? I haven't done it in ages.

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