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The Jazz Singer
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Jazz Singer More at IMDbPro »

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Jazz Singer

Author: cnokuri from United States
24 April 2009

In this movie Al Jolson is an Ashekenazi Jew whose parents emigrated from Eastern Europe during the the early 20th Century. Progroms and antisemitic acts of violence in Russia and the Pale from 1871-1906 forced these communities to settle in the Lower East Side of New York. Like all children of immigrants Al Jolson's character had to go through the difficult process of assimilating into American culture. How did he do this ? Through the music of another marginalized people groups in America. His father however was a cantor, which is a Jewish singer that leads singing in the synagogue. Being the son of a Cantor he quite naturally had signing talent but wanted to forgo his father's profession to seek his own identity in the American world.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The first fictional talkie.

Author: Andrew-71 from Berkeley, California
6 April 1999

Despite being labeled as the first talkie, and the first sucessful talkie, this movie is notable for neither. It is notable because it was the first film in which film was used in a fictional narrative story, not as a novelty or addition to a filmed vaudville act. This movie is famous for being the first talkie because it whet the audience's appitite for talking films, used as they were in The Jazz Singer.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

My favorite movie of all time

Author: Rich Drezen (Drezzilla)
1 April 2003

This is the highest recommendation I could make for anybody. I mean, sure. It's mostly silent, it's black and white, it's from 1927, but that's not how I see it. The sound is one thing, the story that goes along with it is another. Whether you're from a Jewish family, or know some things about the Jewish religion, or whatever, this is not, and I mean not, a movie that will disappoint you. I've seen it about fifty times now, and I enjoy it more each time.

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3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

My favorite movie of all time

Author: Rich Drezen (Drezzilla)
1 April 2003

This is the highest recommendation I could make for anybody. I mean, sure. It's mostly silent, it's black and white, it's from 1927, but that's not how I see it. The sound is one thing, the story that goes along with it is another. Whether you're from a Jewish family, or know some things about the Jewish religion, or whatever, this is not, and I mean not, a movie that will disappoint you. I've seen it about fifty times now, and I enjoy it more each time.

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Nearly Impossible to Sit Through

Author: evanston_dad from United States
20 January 2012

Yikes, this film is hard to sit through.

The only thing "The Jazz Singer" has going for it is its historical importance as the first feature-length film to include moments of spoken dialogue. But beyond that, it's pretty dreadful stuff, boring, overly sentimental, not creative in the least. Al Jolson is a winning performer, and it's especially the talkie moments that let his persona shine, but there are very few of those, and the rest of the film is a funereally paced story about his character's conflict between the world of show business and the traditional Jewish heritage of his parents.

Compare this film to others that came out in the same year -- like F.W. Murnau's exquisite "Sunrise" or Chaplin's "The Circus" -- and you'll be sorry that the birth of such an important technology was wasted on such an otherwise forgettable movie.

Grade: D

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2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Sentimental tale has historic value as a transition to sound...

Author: Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
16 October 2007

To think that the world trembled when THE JAZZ SINGER was announced as a "talkie" musical and opened to huge crowds when it premiered, is to realize how far the cinema has come since this primitive showing.

Actually, the story of THE JAZZ SINGER has a lot in common with Al Jolson's real saga told in THE JOLSON STORY. His cantor father was the Jewish man who opposed his singing anywhere but in the synagogue. In both films, the singer gives in to the lure of show business and eventually wins his father's approval. So much for the plot.

A pristine print on TCM made viewing it a better experience than I expected, but it manages to be little more than a showcase for Al Jolson's specialty numbers. It began filming as a silent film with titles, but later the Vitaphone Orchestra was assigned to supply a full orchestral musical score for the background--and they do an excellent job.

But the faults lie in the acting which, for the most part, is still embedded in silent screen technique, which makes the scenes between mother and son excessively mawkish. WARNER OLAND, almost unrecognizable as a cantor with full beard, later went on to become the famous Chinese sleuth, Charlie Chan, in a series of movies.

MARY McAVOY is the pleasant leading lady, a singer who encourages Jolson in his show business work, but the real star of the film is the Vitaphone Orchestra which, instead of sounding tinny (as is often the case in early sound films), manages to sound reasonably full and rich in giving full sound to the instrumentals.

Frankly, I enjoyed Jolson's vocals for THE JOLSON STORY (he supplied the voice for Larry Parks), better than any of the singing he does here. His voice sounded fuller and richer in that later musical of the '40s.

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5 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Oy Vei, Jakie! Vat iz dis?

Author: Kieran Kenney from California
5 February 2004

"It's der fersht talking pic-chur, gavault!"

Well, it wasn't really the first talking picture, technically. And it wasn't the first ALL-talking picture, either. It has Al Jolson, who has one of the most annoying voices in film history. Funny how everyone in the movie keeps talking about how great he is. I guess maybe it's because he's the only one who talks in it.

As a story, The Jazz Singer is typical sacharine clap-trap. Some of the lower-quality "commercial" flims of this period were long on padding, and this one's no exception. 1927 saw some amazing films, but is also saw some not-so-great ones, that has to be admitted.

Our tale concerns a 13-year-old jewish boy who runs away from home to become a jazz singer, portrayed both visually and vocally by Jolson. He left behind a mother, and a father, a bit of a jewish princess himself, who wanted his son to be a cantor and sing "Kol Nidre" at the temple. Meanwhile, Jakie (the boy, now a man) has become Jack Robbin (since that's more commercial) and he's in love with musical review star Mary Dale, played by the amazingly gorgeous May McAvoy.

McAvoy has no spoken dialogue in this film, but she apparently fared pretty well into the talkie era. Warner Oland, the father, has one line ("STOP!") and the mother has a few, very briefly. Myrna Loy fans will notice her very briefly in a scene backstage, where she's dishing the dirt with another chorus girl, who looks a little like Sally O'Niel (I doubt it is though).

Most of the film is silent. There are four complete musical numbers, as well as some additional snippits of Hebrew songs. All of the cast members who portray jewish characters do so in a very stereotypical manner. Then there's the blackface scenes, which offend so many people now. I still don't see the appeal of blackface. Funny, though, how it was the most popular form of entertainment in the USA ever. That's saying something.

If you're doing a project of late 1920's clothing, this movie is for you. If you're a film history buff, at least see it. If you're a Jolson fan, well I can't help you there. This movie should be pretty satisfying, though. It's no work of art, no masterpiece. I can't call it endearing, thouching or moving, personally. You have to admit, though, it was a bit of a set foreward and a bit of a step backwards. Once the movies learned to talk, the camera returned to it's stationary position, with actors crowded into the foreground, like in the olden days.

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0 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The Jazz Singer

Author: Jackson Booth-Millard from United Kingdom
5 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I obviously heard of this film as the very first talkie film, but also it explains the episode of The Simpsons where Krusty is reunited with his Hebru Dad, it spoofed this film. Anyway, it is all about Jakie Rabinowitz, or Jack Robin (Al Jolson, and Robert Gordon, when aged 13). As a kid, Jackie had the aspiration to be a jazz singer, but his Dad, Cantor Rabinowitz (Warner Oland) forbid him from doing this, and he banished him from his life when he disobeyed him. Years later Jack 'Robin' has made a successful career of his ambition, and he's made a close relationship with stage act Mary Dale (May McAvoy). Jackie still sees his Mum, Sara Rabinowitz (Eugenie Besserer), but he still wants his Dad's praise or love. It is only towards the end, while dying, that his Dad forgave him. This is a half and half film, half silent and half talking, and it has great music. I'm not sure if I approve of the main character being a minstrel, but he is a good entertainer. It was nominated the Oscars for Best Writing, Adaptation, and the Honorary Award for revolutionizing the film industry. It was number 65 on The 100 Greatest Musicals, it was number 90 on 100 Years, 100 Movies, and it was number 71 on 100 Years, 100 Quotes ("Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain't heard nothing' yet!"). Good!

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1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Movie Odyssey Review #047: The Jazz Singer

Author: Cyke from Denver, Colorado
11 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

047: The Jazz Singer (1927) - released 10/6/1927, viewed 5/2/06.

BIRTHS: Peter Falk.

KEVIN: Finally, we get to watch the beginning of the end of the silent era. The Jazz Singer is hailed as the first "sound" film, although it's really a silent film with a couple of sound scenes thrown in. Besides the wonderful musical numbers, I was genuinely surprised with the poignancy of the story, especially when Jack Robin (Al Jolson) has to choose between making his Broadway debut or singing in place of his sick father at the synagogue on Yom Kippur. I was surprised that things turned out as beautifully as they did, with his father ultimately forgiving him, though I wasn't sure if his father made peace with his son's dreams to be a jazz singer. All in all, I enjoyed this movie much more than I expected.

DOUG: Ah, I have to say it feels so good to cross this little landmark off the list, which we managed to view (without taping, no less) on TCM. It's the beginning of the end of silent film as we know it as Al Jolson sings his way through the first movie to use synchronized dialogue. This could also be considered the first movie musical, since all the sound scenes are musical numbers, and the musical was a genre that obviously would benefit greatly from sound. Is the film important? Of course it is, for obvious reasons. Is it worth seeing? Yes. Is it a good film? I suppose it is, although I had objections to certain scenes. (Seeing blackface in old movies is extremely difficult to swallow these days.) The story was surprisingly moving, although I thought that Jack's girlfriend Mary turned out to be rather shallow; when Jack must make a decision between the show and the duty to his father, Mary tells him that his career is more important, which I didn't believe for a second. With regards to the Vitaphone scenes, I noticed that, as this is the first film to use it, the makers of the film rely only on the FACT of the sound and dialogue rather than trying to do anything clever with it. They don't even try to come up with any interesting dialogue, as nearly all of the talking is improvised. It was a gimmick, and in 1927, it worked.

Last film viewed: Morocco (1930). Last film chronologically: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927). Next film viewed: Soup to Nuts (1930). Next film chronologically: My Best Girl (1927).

The Movie Odyssey is an exhaustive, chronological project where we watch as many milestone films as possible, starting with D.W. Griffith's Intolerance in 1916 and working our way through, year by year, one film at a time. We also write a short review for each and every film. In this project, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the time period, the films of the era, and each film in context, while at the same time just watching a lot of great movies, most of which we never would have watched otherwise.

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2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Not the first talking film, but a Classic

Author: MovieCriticMarvelfan from california
23 April 2002

The Jazz Singer made in 1927 was one of the

First films to use sound and it is one of

The greatest pictures ever made.

It features the first time the falling in love tune heard

In weddings was used.

The movie is about a young man named Jakie

Robin who becomes a great singer, and is given a chance

To sing on broadway,but he is torn between

Becoming a great singer on Broadway or

Becoming a great Jewish synagogue singer like his


His father does not approve of Jakie occupation, but when

His father becomes ill, all he wants is to see his son,

Perhaps for the last time.

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