This film was believed lost for many years. In the 1990s the film element was found in the Library of Congress, having been mislabeled as a trailer for The Jazz Singer (1927). Several months later the Vitaphone disk surfaced from a collector in Maryland, who had retained it despite it having been broken into five pieces. Through extraordinary restoration efforts, the print of the film is in excellent condition with wonderful sound (and no trace of the broken disk). See more »
Al Jolson made this short, A Plantation Act, before his feature debut in The Jazz Singer
This Vitaphone musical short was Al Jolson's first film for the company and Warner Bros., the distributor, about a year before his feature debut for them in The Jazz Singer. He's on a farm in overalls and the burnt cork makeup that covers him in blackface. Very unacceptable today but part of the culture of the time, that makeup was part of Jolson's persona as one of his best known songs was "Mammy". Here, he sings "When the Red-Red-Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along", "April Showers", and "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody". Like I said, I find his makeup uncomfortable but his performance of the songs are good enough for this film's worthy preservation. And dig the end when he bows and the film fades out...only to fade in with him continuing to bow before fading out...only to once again, well, you get the idea. So on that note, A Plantation Act is worth a look.
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