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Widely know as the first widely released 'talkie'. The first
commercially successful feature-length movie with audible dialog, "The
Jazz Singer" tells the story of the son of a Jewish Cantor, who must
make the choice to pursue his singing career or carry on his Jewish
family traditions and by singing in the synagogue as a Cantor. A
tradition in the family, for 5 generations long already.
This movie is definitely better than currently given credit for on here. Not that many serious dramas were made in the '20's and those that were made can't really match up to this well written and directed movie.
Of course the movie is mostly legendary because of the fact that it is widely regarded and accepted as the first 'talkie', even though only few lines are actually spoken in the movie and it also isn't the first movie featuring audible dialog. Only the singing sequences have sound and the moments before and after it. When the first talking happens in the movie, it really hits and stuns you. You totally aren't prepared for it, since the movie begins just as purely a silent movie. Just imaging how this would have been for movie goers in the '20's. Love to have seen the crowd reaction. A revolutionary step in movie-making, though it took 3 to 4 more years before the silent-era was truly over. Making full length movies with sound added to it, simply was too costly at the time. This movie was an important movie that marked the coming ending of the silent period and introduced the 'talkie' movies. This movie forms the perfect and symbolic transition between these two completely different movie types.
But above all, the movie is just simply good. The story is very well written and features some good drama aspect when a young jazz singer has to make a choice between his family and reunite with his loving mother and his disappointed father who denounced him, or his career on the stage and a life with his great love, the well-known stage performer Mary Dale. It's a well written dramatic story that works well and is effective, especially toward the ending of the movie. It provides the movie with some deeper emotional layers.
Of course the acting is totally over-the-top, even though Al Jolson remains very good and likable in his role. Also the heavy make-up and lighting works distracting at times but that's all now part of the charm of it these days.
The whole racial problems some persons have with this movie is ridicules. Yes, toward the ending the main character puts on a so called 'blackface' but this is just part of his performance act. Al Jolson never plays an African-American character in the movie. Back in those days it wasn't uncommon that actors or singers put on a blackface and even black singers did it. People had no problem with it in 1927 but now, 80 years later, people suddenly start having problems with it and consider it racist. Also sort of too bad that most people just remember this movie because of the 'blackface', as if its the most significant part of the movie. The movie has so incredibly much more to offer.
A movie-historical important- and landmark movie but above all a simply just really great movie on its own!
This is where it all began, the illumination of sound to major motion pictures, it started with the movie "The Jazz Singer". The film "Singin in the Rain" centered around this particular time in 1927 when this film ("The Jazz Singer") was made!! Very innovative as well as very controversial, "The Jazz Singer" delved into a complex story line and incorporated the use of sound in this picture to bring on an undaunted form of entertainment to the movie audience!! The plot to this movie was a precise depiction of how breaking into the entertainment business when you were raised by such a strict Jewish orthodox code of ethics hence welcomes an onslaught of complications into the lives of all parties concerned!! The film "The Jazz Singer" is considered by AFI to be one of the 100 best films ever made!! Given how groundbreaking this film was, it would stand to reason that it would become the recipient of such an accolade!! I thought that "The Jazz Singer" was an excellent movie, and it signified the potential for progress in the cinema not only for the use of sound, but also, for the introduction to the American movie viewer of complex emotional plots!! "The Jazz Singer" is an all time classic and deservedly so!! I definitely recommend seeing this film!! In a sense, this is where films of today all began!!
Al Jolson is a true legend and this movie is rightfully called a milestone in film-making. The blackface number, though somewhat disturbing, is hardly something to base the movie solely on. Those of you who say that this movie would not be as popular had the blackface number not been in it, I beg to differ. In 1927, hearing people speak in films was something unheard of, and so when it eventually happened naturally everyone had to go and see it. THAT is why this movie is a milestone. Add to that the fact that the legendary Al Jolson stars and sings some of his greatest songs in it, makes this film very enjoyable.
In New York, the thirteen year-old Jewish Jakie is the son of the
cantor Rabinowitz (Warner Oland). When Rabinowitz is informed by Moisha
Yudelson (Otto Lederer) that Jakie is singing ragtime in a club, he
beats his son. The traditional cantor expects that Jakie sings in the
synagogue like his previous generations did, but the boy dreams on
becoming a jazz singer. Jakie leaves home pursuing his dreams. Years
later, Jakie (Al Jolson) is in London where his artistic name is Jack
Robin. When he meets the famous stage performer Mary Dale (May McAvoy),
she helps him in his career. Sooner he travels to New York for the
greatest chance of his life in an important show on Broadway and he
visits his parents. However, his father expels him from home. On the
opening day, the manipulative Moisha Yudelson invites him to sing in
the Atonement Day since his father is very ill, but the emotional
blackmail of the Jewish leader does not work. When Jakie is ready to
the rehearsal, Moisha brings Jakie's beloved mother to press him to
sing in the synagogue. Now Jakie shall choose between his career and
Mary Dale and the bonds with his family and religion.
"The Jazz Singer" is the first "post-silent movie" of cinema history, meaning the first film with sound. I was curious to see this film and now I am very disappointed with the corny plot that uses a selfish emotional blackmail of the leader of the Jewish congregation and the mother of the lead character to force Jakie to forget his dreams and his love for a lovely woman. The story is totally absurd, considering that Jakie left home years ago pursuing his dream and is in love with Mary Dale. The forty-one year-old Al Jolson is totally miscast in the role of a young man and May McAvoy has a lovely face. My vote is five.
Title (Brazil): "O Cantor de Jazz" ("The Jazz Singer")
Made in 1927 and starring Al Jolson, The Jazz Singer was a film that
impacted Hollywood forever. It was the first film with sound that was a
commercial success, and led to silent films being completely scrapped
in favor of sound. Within three years of The Jazz Singer's release,
silent movies were no longer produced.
The plot for the movie is very simple and easy to understand: A father who has been a Cantor, or a singer in a Jewish synagogue, wants his son, Jackie Rabinowitz, to follow in his footstep and become one as well. For five generations the prestigious Cantor position has been passed on from father to son, and the father argues that Jackie must become a Cantor to follow the tradition. Jackie has other plans however, and wants to follow his own dream of becoming a Jazz singer. His father highly disagrees with his decision, and Jackie ends up leaving the house to pursue his dream.
The sound quality was good for a movie made in the 1920's, and set the mood well for the high tension and the calmer scenes. However, that there wasn't much of a pause in the music, and they could've had breaks and decrescendos so it wasn't so much of a flat sound. The changes from silent to sound, then back again after a song number or performance was a bit sudden, but they were trying out sound in movies for the first time. The actual songs that were sung had seemingly random spoken parts that staggered and threw off the beat for me, and left some awkward pauses. They were pretty exaggerated; a bit too much for my liking. The music style was different then, and I realize that, but the song choice still isn't my favorite.
Almost immediately, it was obvious that the film wasn't as good of quality as some of the older movies like the 1927 version of The Phantom of the Opera. The lighting in the background when the beginning credits came up made some of the text impossible to read. It was noticeable throughout the movie, that any white or light colors were too bright, and it made it look like they were glowing. It was distracting from the surroundings, and in some scenes, you could hardly tell who a person or a thing was.
I did appreciate the use of flashbacks though, which brought more emotion and meaning to Jackie's thoughts. The memory fading in and out helped us understand what he was thinking without him having to say it or spell it out for the viewer. Flashbacks are something we still use today in modern movies to great effect.
This film was good, but it wasn't the best. The story line in itself is cliché, and they shouldn't have resolved the ending like they did. It felt like it disregarded the climax and the main conflict. To close, I would rate The Jazz Singer at 5 stars, and although it is a very influential film in movie history, I probably wouldn't watch it again.
The Jazz Singer is a historically important film for being the first use of sound- though the film is one that is part silent and part sound- and being the first successful talkie. But it's also a film that is more than just a curio. Because while it is very of the time, and has some crude lighting at times and has some broad over-acting(particularly Warner Oland, who I feel is more suited in comedy than in drama, Eugenie Besserer is guilty sometimes of stock gesturing), it is still a good film in its own right. The Jazz Singer is well-shot and has production values that still hold up reasonably well. The songs are terrific, especially Toot, Toot Tootsie, My Mammy and Blue Skies(also have a soft spot for Mother of Mine), and the use of classical music is well-done, Bruch's Kol Nidrei stands out as being utilised very touchingly(the oft-repeated Romeo and Juliet Overture while an amazing piece had times where it was a tad out of place). What was also great was how remarkably rich the orchestra sounded. The story is sentimental, but not overly-schmaltzy and certainly not crude, it still comes across as very moving and powerful especially in the depiction of Jolson's love and devotion for his mother. Some have called The Jazz Singer out for being racist which I don't agree with, any scenes that may give off that vibe are barely seen here and when they are it's shown in an optimistic light and came across as being more reflective of the time it's set in rather than trying to intentionally offend. The Jazz Singer is notable for its historical importance and its music but it's notable also for the very charismatic and immensely charming lead performance of Al Jolson, he also sings his songs with a lot of emotion and spirit and has an interesting if personable quality to his voice. May McAvoy is touching, as is on the most part Eugenie Besserer, while Otto Lederer is both amusing and likable. Watch out too for William Demarest and Myrna Loy. Overall, a pioneering film of historical significance but also a good one. 7/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Beautifully depicted drama about the struggle to be an individual
amidst the conflicting influences of one's culture and society.
Al Jolson is stellar as Jaky Rabinowitz, who has been called from a young age to sing the jazz songs of his time. But his father, a fourth-generation cantor, would rather disown Jaky than watch him assimilate.
"Would you be the first Rabinowitz in five generations to fail his God?"
"I'd love to sing for my people but I belong here," Jaky says of the theater.
His mother, who loves her husband as deeply as her only child, believes God wishes Jaky to follow his heart.
One feels deeply for the struggle of the protagonist, even as we see him apply black-face makeup, a convention of the time, and warble songs like "Mammy" that seem dated and campy now.
The film affectionately depicts Jewish domestic life, employing Yiddish intonation through the card titles. The traditional Jewish liturgy finds sensitive portrayal in the movie's climactic Kol Nidre scene.
The performances here are uniformly strong. Jolson is believable in his classic struggle to find his true self. Eugenie Besserer and Warner Oland, neither of whom was Jewish, are convincing as Jaky's pious parents. Otto Lederer is warmly endearing as the "kibitzer" Yudelson. And beautiful May McAvoy is a joy as Jaky's inspiring love interest.
Everything about this movie rings true for me.
"Remember, a son's a son no matter if his papa throws him out a hundred times."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
But for it's reputation as cinema's first talking film, I didn't find
"The Jazz Singer" to be particularly appealing, be it story wise or in
entertainment value. Going only by it's reputation for my first
viewing, I was puzzled by the actual lack of speech at the start of the
picture, along with the generous use of dialog cards complementing a
good number of the scenes. The rare times Jolson's (or anyone's) voice
is heard is in connection with the song offerings throughout the
picture, with very limited use elsewhere. In all, the film breaks out
to about eighty/twenty in terms of it's silent to talk ratio, but it
was enough to capture the public's imagination creating a clamorous
desire for more talkies. Interestingly, Jolson's very next picture,
"The Singing Fool" a year later was about sixty/forty, and was so
successfully received that it remained the movie box office champion
until 1939's "Gone With the Wind". Now there's a statistic that bears
My summary line belongs to Jack Robin's (Jolson) mother (Eugenie Besserer) as she agonizes over her son's choice of profession. I found it particularly fitting to describe Jolson's own career, already booming at the time the movie came out. With his appearance in the film, he became an even greater sensation. However in one of those odd consequences due to the passage of time and tastes, the 'World's Greatest Entertainer' for over forty years is relatively unknown today except to cinema fans who point to this film as one of his crowning achievements.
But as I remarked earlier, the story in "The Jazz Singer" is not particularly compelling, and approaches a rather odd creakiness in the present day. Some of the acting is confined to over-emoting, not unusual for early talkies, and the players come across somewhat as caricatures. The most natural seemed to be May McAvoy as Jack Robin's girlfriend, an unusually resilient character who took it in stride when Jack admitted that his career came even before her. In fact, she even applauded him for it, which to my mind made her one in a million.
Reecently I did another review of a silent black and white movie called
Sherlock Junior starring the great Buster Keaton from 1924 as I am a
film student at university. In that review I was commenting on how
someone whom was born in the post production cinema era of sound,
colour and digital technology, old silent black and white movies are
old and outdated and something I could never get into.
But I mildly enjoyed Sherlock Junior and from this movie I have gathered an appreciation for silent movie era dating back to the late 1890s when the origins of cinema were first established.
Apart from Sherlock Junior I have watched other silent films like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligrahi, Battleship Potomkin and Citizen Kane (though that was a sound movie) and thought they were rubbish.
I had low expectations when it came to my weekly lecture screening of the film this week, which was The Jazz Singer (1927) starring Al Jonson as out of the ten movies I have watched so far Sherlock Junior was the only one I liked.
But as I started watching The Jazz Singer I became interested, only at first as film student but then as a member of the audience. Of course The Jazz Singer is a revolutionary film made by Warner Bros for ending the silent movie era and bringing sound to the cinema.
Only parts of The Jazz Singer are in sound and that's partly what made me feel comfortable with it as it was the beginnings of modern cinema with what is apparent today.
First off Warner Bros have to be commended for a terrific achievement. They successfully in the film accurately implemented the synchronised sound in terms of dialogue mainly when the actor Al Jonson who plays Jack Robin was singing to the visual spectacle perfectly though there was a couple of moments like right at the start when The Jazz Singer is a young boy and singing the camera went for long shots to cover the mis-synchronsiation of the dialogue, but this was the 1920s and the technology was new so it wasn't going to be perfect.
The main strength of this film was the narrative, it was constructed beautifully as we see the story unfold of how Jack feels split between his dream of being a jazz singer and his loyalty to his family as he is Jewish with his father who is opposed to the idea and his mother stuck in the middle.
This was the first mostly silent, black and white film where I felt emotionally connected or in any such way to the narrative, Al Jonson and the other supporting actors convey superb facial expressions in terms of the emotions felt.
A small subplot of where Jack falls for Mary Dale (played excellently by May McAvoy) is done great. Through both Jonson and May's facial expressions of falling for each other made the chemistry really good and there romance was charming and made me feel happy.
And of course the singing, Al Jonson's singing was terrific and had me humming along, which surprised me.
The length of the film I was also happy with 89 minutes I thought was the appropriate length of time as well.
This film for me is such a success for someone who dosen't usually like silent, black and white movies not only because of the sound but it was the narrative that made me want to watch and through that the acting really stood out that for me makes this unique, so this is the second silent movie that I have liked.
I best be careful liking these sorts of movies could become a habit, but I can't help but like this movie, to win over a twenty year old modern critic who dislikes old films this much is a phenomenal accomplishment. Well done to all involved!
"The Jazz Singer" is widely cited as the first full-length sound film
and the film that led to the decline of the silent film era. The story
focuses on a Jewish man, Jakie Rabinowitz, who wants to pursue a career
as a jazz singer despite his father's wish that he become a Cantor
following family tradition.
This film has value beyond its significance as a historical piece. Tension and a touching story are effectively developed around an inner-conflict between honoring family tradition related to his faith and his career aspirations. However, some well-placed humor is injected into the story as well, particularly involving a number of people purchasing someone the same birthday gift. There are also three interesting effects in the film that enhance it involving editing footage into a shot, an example being the editing of footage onto a mirror.
It should be noted that despite this film's role as the first full-length sound film, most of the dialogue is presented in the conventional silent film format of showing the characters mouthing the dialogue without sound and then showing the dialogue text. The dialogue itself is well-written and the characters are all expressive and believable though we don't hear them most of the time. The film's sound comes in the form of several songs and some spoken lines prior to and following the songs. Al Jolson has a strong singing voice and the songs he has to work with are for the most part quite good, especially "Mammy". "The Jazz Singer" is known for its historical role in film, but it is a solid film in its own right.
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