RHAPSODY IN GREEN: "KING OF JAZZ"
Here's an extraordinary restoration of yet another nightmarish musical sequence from "King Of Jazz", which I posted about yesterday (scroll down, darling). This is a portion of the film's climactic 'Rhapsody In Blue' sequence, involving a tremendously large piano on top of which sits Paul Whitman's orchestra. A handful of 'pianists' sit in front of the ginormous keys, some pretending to play while others sit numbly by. The real pianist (who is it?) is superimposed over the fake ones, playing a green grand piano. In fact, the entire sequence is pretty much in green--a delicious, mint ice-cream kind of green--which strikes me as strange. Wasn't the rhapsody supposed to be in blue? Whilst reading the helpful comments underneath the Youtube video, however, I learned that this was a two-tone Technicolor process as opposed to the normal three-tone, and that blue was the color that was left out. It could be added later apparently, but only at great cost to the producers. (Given that this was the most expensive movie Universal had ever made, it seems like a strange thing to shirk). Or perhaps it was the restoration that failed to add back the blues that had been intended. Whatever. It still looks great and leaves me with one question: was that giant piano actually a set? If so it had to have been at least fifty feet tall, which would have required ladders (or a forklift) to transport the musicians up to the top. Or were they superimposed on a 'miniature' piano which, when photographed out of perspective, was made to look massive? The fact that we're even talking about mint ice-cream gigantic pianos once again takes us to the demented land of the 1920s musical, a place in which disembodied heads sing songs and Paul Whitman does cartwheels...
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Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 11:46 AM