|Page 8 of 9:||      |
|Index||81 reviews in total|
"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.
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.
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.
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.
*** 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Page 8 of 9:||      |
|Newsgroup reviews||External reviews||Parents Guide|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|