Cantor Rabinowitz is concerned and upset because his son Jakie shows so little interest in carrying on the family's traditions and heritage. For five generations, men in the family have been cantors in the synagogue, but Jakie is more interested in jazz and ragtime music. One day, they have such a bitter argument that Jakie leaves home for good. After a few years on his own, now calling himself Jack Robin, he gets an important opportunity through the help of well-known stage performer Mary Dale. But Jakie finds that in order to balance his career, his relationship with Mary, and his memories of his family, he will be forced to make some difficult choices. Written by
Many documentaries and historians state that immediately after the release and success of The Jazz Singer (1927) that all of Hollywood switched to sound. This is not true for several reasons. First, there were two competing and incompatible sound systems. The Vitaphone process was cumbersome, relying on an electro-mechanical interface between the projector and the turntable. Fox's Fotofilm was a superior sound-on-film process that allowed for easier editing but required a costlier projector (the Vitaphone system would be quietly killed off by 1932). Secondly, either sound process nearly doubled the budget of a film. Thirdly, theater chains faced enormous conversion costs (MGM-parent company Loew's Inc. owned over 1,000 outlets, and took a deliberately slow wait-and-see attitude toward sound). The first feature film with all synchronous dialog was Lights of New York (1928). Also, in the midst of the talkie-craze of 1928-30, studio bosses were faced with a limited amount of sound equipment and qualified sound technicians, causing them innumerable headaches over which productions to produce as talkies vs. silents. Also, silents were internationally marketable via cheap title card translations while talkies, prior to the advent of subtitles, usually required completely different foreign language versions to be produced simultaneously. Low budget producers of westerns along poverty row were especially impacted, with silents continuing in that market through the end of 1930. Many studios continued to produce both silent and sound versions of their films, including the classic All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). See more »
When Jack is writing the aforementioned August 7 letter to Mary following the Yossele Rosenblatt recital, immediately after he writes the words "nearly stopped," there is a splice in the film (but not the soundtrack) and the insert of the writing is repeated at an earlier point so that Jack writes the same sentence again. This may have been to allow for a reel/disc change, since there is a conspicuous pause of silence in the middle of the shot where the music cue ends and another begins. See more »
I'll walk a million miles for one of your smiles, my Mammy.
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George Jessel passed up a chance to star in this movie. he thought sound in film was too risky a venture to try and took a pass. Al Jolson went on to stardom and George became known as a toastmaster at Hollywood roasts. This is an excellent movie that certainly belongs on anyone's list of 100 best movies. The story has been ably told here, I won't repeat it. I do want to add a few observations, however. The movie is very sentimental, especially in it's portrayal of "Mama" and Jolson's devotion to her. Even when it first came out, writers were critical of this, which harked back to the days of broad stage melodramas. The use of the song Kol Nidre and the Jewish day of Atonement at the ending is significant in that forgiveness and reconciliation is what this movie's theme is all about. Recommended highly, many of the scenes are etched in the consciousness of movie-goers whether you have seen this movie or not. Jolson in blackface doing "Mammy" and "Mother Of Mine", singing "Toot, Toot, Toosie Goodbye". Seeing this film will bring back all these images and place them in their proper contexts. The minstrel type show or even blackface solos were still going strong in the 1920s. In the 1930s and even into the 1940s famous Hollywood actors such as Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney among many others would still be doing songs in blackface. This was no isolated case by a long shot. See it and see history. Also see it for what it is, a classic Hollywood story.
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