King of Jazz (1930): Pre-Code Color Musical, Starring Paul Whiteman and his orchestra.

King of Jazz is a pre-Code color musical revue film, starring Paul Whiteman and his orchestra.

The title was taken from Whiteman’s self-conferred appellation. At the time, “jazz” to the general public meant the jazz-influenced syncopated dance music which was being heard everywhere on phonograph records and radio broadcasts.

King of Jazz
King of Jazz (1930 poster).jpg

Theatrical release poster

In the 1920s Whiteman signed and featured white jazz musicians including Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang (both seen and heard in the film), Frank Trumbauer and others.

King of Jazz was filmed entirely in the early two-color Technicolor process and was produced by Carl Laemmle Jr. for Universal.

The film 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 during a cartoon sequence.

King of Jazz still survives in near-complete color print, unlike many musicals that now exist only in incomplete form or as black-and-white reduction copies.

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


Paul Whiteman
John Boles
Laura La Plante
Jeanie Lang
Jeanette Loff
Bing Crosby
Al Rinker
Harry Barris
William T. Kent


Directed by John Murray Anderson
Produced by Carl Laemmle Jr.
Written by Charles MacArthur, Harry Ruskin
Music by James Dietrich
Billy Rose
Milton Ager
George Gershwin
Mabel Wayne
Jack Yellen
Ferde Grofé
Cinematography Jerome Ash, Hal Mohr, Ray Rennahan (Technicolor)
Edited by Robert Carlisle
Color process Technicolor

Production and Distribution by Universal Pictures

Release date: April 19, 1930

Running time: 105 minutes
Budget $2,000,000


TCM showed this rarely seen musical movie on April 13, 2021.