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|Index||90 reviews in total|
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.
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.
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.
*** 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!
*** 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.
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.
"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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Jazz Singer" will always be remembered for only two things - it's the first talking picture (meaning it's the first film that used audio dialogue instead of just music). That said though, this film is only average - with a story that's been told before - even given the fact this film came out in 1927 - and only given the fact that it's the first talkie do I raise the score from around 6 to 7 out of 10. Oh and of course the other thing this film will be remembered for is the famous line said by the star of the film Al Jolson, "You ain't heard nothing' yet" and boy was that the case! Many more talkies owe a lot to this technological breakthrough of a film.
What can say this German Count about this film?... what can a German
aristocrat say who deeply loves ( besides his fat German heiresses )
the silent cinema? What then can be said about a film that is well
known for being the first talkie (well
that's not technically true,
it's more a synchronized film) in film history?
As you can understand, mein liebers, it's very hard, very troublesome, very sad, very much, indeed, to talk about this talkie film. German words fail this Count (that's a perfect excuse for a silent film fan ) when we think about what "The Jazz Singer" meant to film history.
The film is a typical 20's melodrama with a son of a Jewish cantor who wants to be a Jazz singer. Ah, and that's a problem, indeed!!... the youngsters always defying traditions, having no respect for the elders they begin wanting to be modern singers and finally want to make talkies!!!
"The Jazz singer" was the talk of the town, it's true.
Thanks to the adventures of Jakie Rabinowitz and some bizarre songs, henceforth the cinema wasn't the same. The public preferred simple talkie stories and forgot the poetry, the visual beauty, the sceneries, the slapstick, the German Expressionism, the frenchified films, the avant-garde movements, the Pola Negri whip, the Brooks hairdo, Metropolis, the Garbo face, the sunrise of two humans, etc. The magnificent film narrative of the silent films that at that time was especially brilliant was at the beginning of the end of a beautiful dream a splendorous, unique era of the film history.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count has talked himself out with his respect for the films of the silent era
I love films and I am a history teacher, so it is natural that I would
sometimes use clips from this film when I teach. It was the first
"all-talking picture" (with the sound placed on records that often went
out of sync with the picture--this isn't a problem on DVDs and video
versions, thank goodness). Plus, it gives AMAZING insight into how the
average person viewed Black-Americans--as Jolson performs in black
face--something that would most likely get him shot today or start a
However, despite it being one of the most important movies historically, I've gotta admit that it's a really creaky old-fashioned film that would mostly elicit snores nowadays. The basic plot, even in 1927, was really clichéd and old. Al Jolson is the son of a Jewish cantor (singer in the synagogue) and he is expected to follow in his father's tradition. But, the young man is torn--as he LOVES Jazz and feels called to the theater. The dilemma is how to honor his father and still live his own life. The results are pretty predictable and the film is only mildly interesting. No,...wait. Now that I think about it, it's not at all interesting. And the film is jam-packed full of clichés and over-the-top performances. I know this played to packed houses in 1927, but by today's standards it's just sappy and dull. Plus, although it is a "talkie", much of the film is actually silent with title cards. Only the songs and some of the dialog is recorded.
See it only for its historical value. Otherwise, it's just not worth your time.
Hollywood inexplicably decided to remake this film MANY years later. Why remake this crusty old film into a boring NEW film, I can't explain. It's sort of like "New COKE"--something people did for no apparent reason!
By the way, as you can easily tell, I don't particularly love this film. Despite this, I strongly recommend you buy the DVD set for THE JAZZ SINGER, as it also has seven hours worth of fantastic extras that all have to do with the early talking pictures--making it well worth the price.
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