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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Jazz Singer can be found here.
Thirteen-year-old Jakie Rabinowitz (Robert Gordon) doesn't want to follow in the footsteps of his father (Warner Oland), a fifth generation Jewish cantor, but would rather become a jazz singer. When his father whips him for 'debasing the voice God gave him' by singing in a beer garden, Jakie vows to run away in pursuit of his dream and never return, even though it means leaving behind his beloved mother Sara (Eugenie Besserer). Several years later and now billed as Jack Robin (Al Jolson), Jakie gets an important break through the help of famous stage performer Mary Dale (May McAvoy). However, when Jakie returns home for a visit, his father expels him from his home, putting Jakie in the impossible position of maintaining his career and reconciling with his father and his Jewish traditions.
The Jazz Singer is based on American playwright Samson Raphaelson's 1925 play of the same name, which he converted from his short story 'The Day of Atonement'. The play was adapted for the film by American screenwriter Alfred A. Cohn, with titles by Jack Jarmuth.
Torn between his Broadway debut and the wish of his dying father to see him sing in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur, Jack finally comes to a decision. At the theater, it is announced to the eagerly waiting audience that there will be no performance that evening. Instead, Jakie sings the Kol Nidre at the Synagogue while his father listens from his deathbed. 'Mama, we have our son again,' Papa says and collapses. In the Synagogue, Papa's spirit is briefly seen standing behind Jakie. 'A jazz singer...singing to his God,' Mary comments. The season passes, and Jack has successfully returned to the stage. The jazz singer is now appearing at the Winter Garden theater. In the front row, his mother sits alongside Moisha Yudleson (Otto Lederer). The show opens with Jack Robin, in blackface, singing 'My Mammy.'
The Jazz Singer was the first FEATURE-LENGTH motion picture with synchronized talking and singing recorded live. However, attempts at 'synch sound' shorts had been going on for years, mostly using discs or cylinders, but were a failure technically-speaking and a flop at the box office because the quality was really poor. The Jazz Singer has the distinction of being the film that caused enough of a stir to make studios think sound was financially viable and to inspire theaters to equip themselves with the types of systems needed to play 'talkies'.
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