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

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2 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

End Of A Beautiful Era

4/10
Author: FerdinandVonGalitzien (FerdinandVonGalitzien@gmail.com) from Galiza
8 May 2006

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

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6 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

super-important historically--awfully boring if seen today

5/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
25 April 2006

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 major riot!

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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1 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A Small Clarification

Author: anonymous
24 February 1999

There's something I want to say; this was NOT the 'first ever talkie'. It was the first SUCCESSFUL talkie. There's a difference; remember it.

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5 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

interesting but not entertaining

3/10
Author: Matthew Dickson from Denton, TX
10 July 2005

An interesting piece of film history but not a very entertaining one. The novelty of being the first sound film having worn off, this movie truly doesn't have much to offer. Al Jolson stars as Jack Robin, the son of a Jewish Cantor, who leaves home to become a Broadway entertainer. This storyline was not much more than an excuse to fill the picture with musical numbers, and even most of those seem bland by today's standards. There are a few good moments, thanks for the most part to Jolson's performance. In one touching scene, Robin serenades his mother with the song "Blue Skies." This scene contains the only real dialogue in the movie, which just makes the rest of the film seem that much more flat. Jolson definitely has the charm and acting chops of a leading man. He could carry a film if it was worth carrying. Unfortunately, this one wasn't.

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0 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Booooo

2/10
Author: Liz Livoti from United States
27 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wanted to see it because it was "the first talkie." Turns out it is mostly a silent film with music in the background. There are a few songs, but the lip syncking is not very good. The songs are disappointing as well :( The way they sped up the film during parts was, I guess, typical of the era, but annoying. I did not understand why he put blackface on at all for the show. The way he did it with no explanation at all was like watching a woman sit down in front of a vanity and put on her makeup today, like that's just normal for audiences in 1927, but for me it was a surprise and confusing.

Mostly, it just was not a good story. I thought it was very simplistic, almost Algerian, with how the boy became a star. Although it did get interesting toward the end with the tugging back and forth between show biz and his religion, that's not enough to save the movie. The very end was especially disappointing, I mean, apparently he got another big break and winds up a star.

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4 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Sappy introduction to sound from Warner Brothers and Al Jolson...

4/10
Author: dwpollar from Evansville, Indiana USA
22 August 2005

1st watched 8/20/2005 - 4 out of 10(Dir-Crosland, Alan): Sappy introduction to sound from Warner Brothers and Al Jolson. The movie made a lot of money for the studio and gave people the first opportunity to see what sound could be like in the movies. There was actually only one talking scene with sound but also a few musical performances by Jolson and Cantor Josef Rosenblatt. These scenes in itself were monumental to film and the movie has a part in the world of cinema because of this. As for the movie, it's very heavy-laden with sappiness and schmaltz as the son of the Cantor has to decide between singing for the church or taking his show on the road to Broadway. It takes a long long time for him to make a decision and the viewers can't help but yell back at the screen, "Come on just make up your mind one way or the other, PLEASE!!." The religious family lays on the guilt as his father becomes ill, and the girlfriend and Broadway show director lay their side of the argument on heavy as well. As an entertainment piece, it's nice to see Jolson especially doing his classic "Mamy" near the end but the entire movie would have been better as a video collection. Oops, I guess we'd have to wait another half a decade or so for that and by then both of the singers from this movie were long gone, too bad it would have at least been interesting.. The movie made a lot of money for the studio and gave people the first opportunity to see what sound could be like in the movies. There was actually only one talking scene with sound but also a few musical performances by Jolson and Cantor Josef Rosenblatt. These scenes in itself were monumental to film and the movie has a part in the world of cinema because of this. As for the movie, it's very heavy-laden with sappiness and schmaltz as the son of the Cantor has to decide between singing for the church or taking his show on the road to Broadway. It takes a long long time for him to make a decision and the viewers can't help but yell back at the screen, "Come on just make up your mind one way or the other, PLEASE!!." The religious family lays on the guilt as his father becomes ill, and the girlfriend and Broadway show director lay their side of the argument on heavy as well. As an entertainment piece, it's nice to see Jolson especially doing his classic "Mamy" near the end but the entire movie would have been better as a video collection. Oops, I guess we'd have to wait another half a decade or so for that and by then both of the singers from this movie were long gone, too bad it would have at least been interesting.

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0 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Dull

6/10
Author: zetes from Saint Paul, MN
7 August 2003

I enjoyed the first forty-five minutes of this film, wondering why it had such a bad reputation. Then I started to become bored, and more bored, until I nodded off. The story, which I kind of liked at first, hits a wall early on and the second half of the film is repetitive and very, very dull. Too bad, too, because I actually like the music of Al Jolson. I love his weird voice and bizarre delivery. The songs presented here do not represent Al at his best. While `Tootsie' and `Blue Skies' are wonderfully performed (got to love the whistling in `Tootsie'), most of the other songs are bad. Most will probably cringe during `Dirty Hands.' And his rendition of `Mammy' at the end of his film is weak. I have a much better recording of that song. The blackface scenes are probably the least offensive I've seen. Most blackface numbers make fun of blacks. Jolson is only in blackface for two very short numbers. He doesn't even try to act black as most do (see, for example, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in 1939's Babes in Arms). That doesn't make them good, of course. I don't see how Jolson even became a famous minstrel like this. It's hardly a blackface act at all (mind that I'm not complaining, just finding it all interesting). The story has a very Jewish flavor, which I didn't know about and which provides some interest early on (before the predictability and sentimentality sensors kicked in). 6/10.

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4 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Pretty terrible

2/10
Author: Wayne Malin (wwaayynnee51@hotmail.com) from United States
17 October 2007

Cantor Rabinowitz (Warner Oland) wants his son Jackie to sing traditional Jewish religious songs at the temple. Jackie likes only signing jazz and, after his father beats him, he runs away from home. Twenty years later he's changed his name to Jack Robin (Al Jolson) and is a jazz signer...albeit not successful. He then meets beautiful Mary Dale (May McAvoy) who helps him become a big star. But his father is dying and wants him to sing for him before he dies and (wouldn't you know it?) this happens on the opening night of his big break.

Yawn. What a cornball story! This was old even in 1927 when this was made. It's more funny now than dramatic. The clichés come flying left and right--some of them were so overdone I couldn't believe it! I was rolling my eyes and smirking almost nonstop. If this wasn't one of the first talking pictures and didn't have Jolson in it, it would have disappeared long ago. Also this (technically)isn't an all talking picture. It has sequences of dialogue and signing from Jolson but it's mostly a silent with title cards and everything.

Cornball story aside the acting didn't impress me. I'm no fan of Jolson. I do admit his acting wasn't too bad but I hated his songs and didn't think he was much of a singer. When the sound came on when he was signing I kept hoping it could switch back to silent! Also he does two numbers in black face. I realize that was considered OK back in 1927 but it comes across as appalling and racist today. The rest of the actors overact to a startling degree--but that was how silent film stars DID act so I can't fault them.

A real bad film but I give it a 2 because it is historically important. Anyone who interested in cinema should see it at least once.

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0 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Bizzare Melange

Author: jaiken007 from Oakland, CA
8 August 2002

So many strange elements are in this film. The Jewish stereotypes are as offensive as the blackface, which had no plot value that I could see. The fact that the Warner Brothers studio produced this movie is like Bill Cosby producing "Amos an' Andy in the 60's" starring Spike Lee as Amos. (You'll truly believe a man can SHUFFLE!) From a historical viewpoint it is important, as are other exercises in racism, such as "Intolerance", and it does show the tremendous talent of Al Jolson. It also is nice to see a female chorus that is shapely and natural as opposed to the man-made beauties of today. (Pardon that last comment but I just returned from Las Vegas and saw more silicon than there is in San Jose, attached to women who have a cigarette and some air for lunch.) Jewish history is so vibrant and there are so many incidents that have far greater dramatic potential than this schmaltz.

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0 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Argh.

Author: jdawgprod (jdawgprod@hotmail.com) from Milwaukee
18 April 2002

I hate how America bases its milestones on racism. This film portrays a Jewish man in black-face. Minstrel shows are the main reason why black stereotypes exist today. From the "mammy figure" to the big red painted on lips of Jolson, America bases stereotypes on this sort of thing. It's unfortunate that people find this movie so great even when it compromizes the integrity of what the United States stands for: freedom and equality. Would this film have still been successful if it was just Jolson as himself and not black-faced? Probably not. That's because people watched it to make themselves feel better about themselves. It's too bad that this film is a classic.

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