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The Singing Fool (1928)

A singing waiter and composer (Al Jolson) loves two women (Betty Bronson, Josephine Dunn), conquers Broadway and holds his dying son, singing "Sonny Boy."



(adaptation), (story) (as Leslie Burrows) | 1 more credit »

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Credited cast:
Molly Winton
Arthur Housman ...
Blackie Joe
John Perry
Sonny Boy (as David Lee)
Louis Marcus
Robert Emmett O'Connor ...
Cafe Owner, Bill (as Robert O'Connor)
Agnes Franey ...
'Balloon' Girl
The Yacht Club Boys ...
Singing Quartette
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jack Stoutenburg


Al Stone is singing waiter in a speakeasy who is in love with Molly, the singing star at the speakeasy, but she spurns him. Al gets his big break and goes on to become a Broadway sensation. Written by Trisha Warren

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"When there are gray skies, I don't mind the gray skies, you make them blue---Sonny Boy." See more »


Musical | Drama





Release Date:

19 April 1929 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

A Última Canção  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Contains the first song to sell over a million copies, 'Sonny Boy.' (it eventually sold over 3 million copies). See more »


Referenced in The Singing Sap (1930) See more »


It All Depends on You
Music by Ray Henderson
Lyrics by Buddy G. DeSylva and Lew Brown
Sung by Al Jolson
Played often in the score
See more »

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User Reviews

"Climb Upon My Knee Sonny Boy"
6 May 2011 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Herbert Goldman's recent biography of Al Jolson makes the case that with the release and success of The Singing Fool Jolson was at the height of his career. His big Broadway successes and all the songs associated with them were behind him and his future song hits would be identified primarily with film. And the incredible profits The Singing Fool was bringing to Warner Brothers because people could not get enough of the novelty of sound was giving Jolson new vistas for his talent. More people saw him in The Singing Fool than ever did on Broadway or all the road tours he made with his stage shows.

If The Jazz Singer was mawkish and sentimental, The Singing Fool doubled the bet in that pot. Jolson plays a singing waiter who gets a big break because a Broadway producer spots his act. A woman who is played by Josephine Dunn who wouldn't give him the right time of day before now sees success and its tied to Jolson. She and Al marry and they have a child whom we never hear identify as anything else, but Sonny Boy.

In fact the child is the only thing Jolson really cares about other than his career. When one is taken the other goes downhill.

A lot of Jolson's previous song hits were interpolated into The Singing Fool as in The Jazz Singer. Two new songs were written for him and became identified with him, There's A Rainbow Round My Shoulder which to me fits his style perfectly and is the best thing in the film. The other is Sonny Boy.

In the film The Best Things In Life Are Free there is a scene where Jolson played by impersonator Herbert Brooks calls Gordon MacRae, Ernest Borgnine, and Dan Dailey who play the songwriting team of DeSylva, Brown and Henderson and asks them to write a maudlin sentimental ballad he has to sing to a child. They sit down and write one to those specifications and the three of them as well as Jolson are shocked it becomes a hit. Goldman's book says there's reason to believe the story is true.

For nearly the entire film Jolson plays it without blackface. Then the finale with him singing Sonny Boy again he dons the minstrel cork to me for no apparent reason. It will forever be a mystery to me why Jolson continued to use the blackface long after he didn't need to.

Fans of Al Jolson should see The Singing Fool and folks who want to know about his performing art should see it as well. It is mawkish, maudlin, and sentimental and all Jolson.

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