Home Classic Movies John Boles: ‘King of Jazz’ & ‘The Age of Innocence’ Actor Revisited

John Boles: ‘King of Jazz’ & ‘The Age of Innocence’ Actor Revisited


John Boles.

Actor & singer John Boles remembered

On March 4, Turner Classic Movies is remembering actor-singer John Boles, a name that even the majority of film historians and connoisseurs will likely have trouble recognizing.

Yet John Boles – who could both act and sing – was a well-known leading man whose Hollywood career lasted from the end of the silent era to the early 1940s (plus a couple of comebacks in the early 1950s). Boles starred in one of the major early talkie hits, the 1929 musical Rio Rita, but would shortly after that settle in more commonplace leading man roles in movies generally focused on the female star.

TCM will be showing five of these: Craig’s Wife (1936), toplining Rosalind Russell (and later remade as Harriet Craig with Joan Crawford); Stella Dallas (1937), with Best Actress Academy Award nominee Barbara Stanwyck; Music in the Air (1934), notable as the movie that ended Gloria Swanson’s career as a star; The Age of Innocence (1934), with Irene Dunne (Boles’ leading lady in Back Street two years earlier); and The Life of Vergie Winters (1934), with both Ann Harding and a bit of bigamy.

One of the most handsome actors of his time, Boles was – understandably – highly in demand by the women in his films. No wonder he has two families in Vergie Winters, cheats on his wife with Irene Dunne in Back Street, and almost ruins his career by becoming enmeshed with Dunne again in The Age of Innocence.

Now, TCM’s most notable John Boles offering is the early – recently restored – musical King of Jazz, a two-color musical extravaganza that cost Universal Pictures a fortune – and that lost a fortune despite the presence of Boles (fresh off of Rio Rita), Universal’s perky silent era star Laura La Plante (another name that should be better remembered), Paul Whiteman’s band, and a very young Bing Crosby.

This article will be expanded in the not-too-distant future. Please check back later.

John Boles movie schedule

8:00 PM KING OF JAZZ (1930). Dir.: John Murray Anderson. Cast: Paul Whiteman, John Boles, Laura La Plante. BW- 100 mins.

10:00 PM CRAIG’S WIFE (1936). A woman puts her beautiful house ahead of her family. Dir.: Dorothy Arzner. Cast: Rosalind Russell, John Boles, Billie Burke. BW- 74 mins.

11:30 PM STELLA DALLAS (1937). After divorcing a society man, a small-town woman tries to build a better life for their daughter. Dir.: King Vidor. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, John Boles, Anne Shirley. BW- 106 mins.

1:30 AM MUSIC IN THE AIR (1934). A constantly quarreling couple decide to try the jealousy angle when a naive young pair comes along. Dir.: Joe May. Cast: Gloria Swanson, John Boles, Douglass Montgomery. BW- 84 mins.

3:00 AM THE AGE OF INNOCENCE (1934). A young attorney risks his career for love of a glamorous divorcee. Dir.: Philip Moeller. Cast: Irene Dunne, John Boles, Lionel Atwill. BW- 81 mins.

4:30 AM THE LIFE OF VERGIE WINTERS (1934). A politician marries while maintaining a second, illegitimate family on the side. Dir.: Alfred Santell. Cast: Ann Harding, John Boles, Helen Vinson. BW- 82 mins.


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