About the Book

Media History Press is pleased to announce a new book from James Layton and David Pierce, authors of the critically acclaimed The Dawn of Technicolor, 1915-1935 (2015). King of Jazz: Paul Whiteman’s Technicolor Revue tells the untold story of the making, release and restoration of Universal’s 1930 Technicolor musical extravaganza King of Jazz.

The authors have uncovered original artwork, studio production files, behind-the-scenes photographs, personal papers, unpublished interviews, and a host of other previously unseen documentation. The book offers a richly illustrated narrative of the film’s production, with broader context on its diverse musical and theatrical influences. The story concludes with an in-depth look at the challenges Universal has faced in restoring the film in 2016, as told by the experts doing the work.

About the Film

King of Jazz was one of the most ambitious films ever to emerge from Hollywood. Just as movie musicals were being invented in 1929, Universal Pictures brought together Paul Whiteman, leader of the country’s top dance orchestra; John Murray Anderson, director of spectacular Broadway revues; a top ensemble of dancers and singers; early Technicolor; and a near unlimited budget.

The film’s highlights include a dazzling interpretation of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” which Whiteman had introduced to the public in 1924; Walter Lantz’s “A Fable in Jazz,” the first cartoon in Technicolor; and Anderson’s grand finale “The Melting Pot of Music,” a visualization of popular music’s many influences and styles.

The film is not only a unique document of Anderson’s theatrical vision and Whiteman’s band at its peak, but also of many of America’s leading performers of the late 1920s, including Bing Crosby in his first screen appearance, and the Russell Markert Dancers, who would soon become Radio City Music Hall’s famous Rockettes.

Meet the Authors

James Layton and David Pierce

James Layton is Manager of the Museum of Modern Art’s Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Center. Prior to this he worked at George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, where he curated two gallery exhibitions and the website Technicolor 100, and co-wrote the book The Dawn of Technicolor (2015) with David Pierce. Layton has also acted as Cataloguer and Workflow Coordinator at the East Anglian Film Archive in Norwich, UK, and is co-author of the Image Permanence Institute’s informational poster Knowing and Protecting Motion Picture Film (2009).

David Pierce is an independent film historian and archivist. He was formerly the Head of Preservation and Curator of the National Film and Television Archive at the British Film Institute. His articles have appeared in numerous journals, and his report on the survival of American silent feature films was published by the Library of Congress in 2013. He founded the Media History Digital Library, providing free online access to millions of pages of motion picture magazines and books. Pierce co-wrote The Dawn of Technicolor (2015) with James Layton.

Book Details

Written by James Layton & David Pierce
Appendix by Crystal Kui & James Layton
Foreword by Michael Feinstein
Edited by Richard Koszarski
Designed by Christian Zavanaiu

304 pages
306 color & b&w illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-9973801-0-1
Publication date: November 21, 2016

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