Joe Lane kills another man in a fistfight after learning that the man has made improper advances towards his wife. Joe goes to prison for the murder. When Joe gets out of prison, he visits ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (story) | 2 more credits »

On Disc

at Amazon

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Musical | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

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

Director: Lloyd Bacon
Stars: Al Jolson, Betty Bronson, Josephine Dunn
Mammy (1930)
Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A love triangle develops in a traveling minstrel troupe.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Al Jolson, Lois Moran, Lowell Sherman
Drama | Music | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The son of a Jewish Cantor must defy the traditions of his religious father in order to pursue his dream of becoming a jazz singer.

Director: Alan Crosland
Stars: Al Jolson, May McAvoy, Warner Oland
Dr. Jack (1922)
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Country Doctor, Jack Jackson is called in to treat the Sick-Little-Well-Girl, who has been making Dr. Saulsbourg and is sanitarium very rich, after years of unsuccessful treatment. His ... See full summary »

Directors: Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor
Stars: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, John T. Prince
Big Boy (1930)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Gus, the trusty family retainer, has hopes of riding his boss' horse, Big Boy, to victory at the Kentucky Derby.

Director: Alan Crosland
Stars: Al Jolson, Claudia Dell, Louise Closser Hale
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Vice lord Dominic has brought Swifty Dorgan east to do a job for him. When Swifty appears to have died falling from a train, detective Henderson impersonates him hoping to get into the mob.... See full summary »

Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: Alice White, Edward G. Robinson, Neil Hamilton
Swanee River (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

More fictional than factual biography of Stephen Foster. Songwriter from Pittsburgh falls in love with the South, marries a Southern gal (Leeds), then is accused of sympathizing when the ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Lanfield
Stars: Don Ameche, Andrea Leeds, Al Jolson
Svengali (1931)
Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Through hypnotism and telepathic mind control, a sinister music maestro controls the singing voice, but not the heart, of the woman he loves.

Director: Archie Mayo
Stars: John Barrymore, Marian Marsh, Donald Crisp
Torrent (1926)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A young girl and her father are kicked out of their house by a cruel noblewoman, and the girl's heart is broken when her sweetheart, the noblewoman's son, won't go to Paris with them. After... See full summary »

Director: Monta Bell
Stars: Ricardo Cortez, Greta Garbo, Gertrude Olmstead
Lucky Star (1929)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Mary, a poor farm girl, meets Tim just as word comes that war has been declared. Tim enlists in the army and goes to the battlefields of Europe, where he is wounded and loses the use of his... See full summary »

Director: Frank Borzage
Stars: Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams
Hallelujah (1929)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

In a juke joint, sharecropper Zeke falls for a beautiful dancer, Chick, but she's only setting him up for a rigged craps game. He loses $100, the money he got for the sale of his family's ... See full summary »

Director: King Vidor
Stars: Daniel L. Haynes, Nina Mae McKinney, William Fountaine
The Fall Guy (1930)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

When a hapless pharmacist loses his job and falls in with criminals, he's soon made The Fall Guy. Unemployed, Johnny Quinlan (Jack Mulhall) starts doing jobs for underworld chieftain Nifty ... See full summary »

Director: Leslie Pearce
Stars: Jack Mulhall, Mae Clarke, Ned Sparks


Cast overview:
Davey Lee ...
Katherine Lane
Holmes Herbert ...
Dr. Robert Merrill
Kenneth Thomson ...
Arthur Phillips
Fred, Joe's Cellmate
Dr. Burnes, surgeon
Ernest Hilliard ...
Radio Station Employee
Arthur Hoyt ...
Mr. Jones
Claude Payton ...


Joe Lane kills another man in a fistfight after learning that the man has made improper advances towards his wife. Joe goes to prison for the murder. When Joe gets out of prison, he visits his son "Little Pal" at school. Little Pal tries to follow Joe downtown, but is hit by a truck. Written by Trisha Warren

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


See and hear Al Jolson in Say It With Songs. (Newspaper ad). See more »







Release Date:

24 January 1930 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

Cantaré para ti  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Vitaphone production reels #3417-2426 See more »


When Marian Nixon gets Al Jolson's record of "Little Pal" out of an album to play for their son Davey Lee, in the long shot the record is on the real-life Victor label, but in the insert closeup the record is on the fictitious "Metropolitan" label. See more »


I'm 'Ka-razy' for You
Written by Al Jolson, Billy Rose and Dave Dreyer
Performed by Al Jolson
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Rhythm and Weep
31 July 2002 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

SAY IT WITH SONGS (Warner Brothers, 1929), directed by Lloyd Bacon, reunites the legendary Al Jolson with little boy wonder, Davey Lee, of 'SINGING FOOL' (1928) fame, in yet another sentimental musical drama that failed to live up to the success of its predecessor. This, Jolson's third feature film, contains several firsts in his movie career: His first full length talkie (with no silent passages); no black-face song numbers; and the first Jolson movie to flop at the box office. It was also one of the few films in his career in which his on-screen character isn't named AL, and the second and last casting him as a married man.

The story involves Joe Land (Al Jolson), a radio singer with a loving wife, Katherine (Marion Nixon) and five-year-old son he calls Little Pal (Davey Lee), sent to prison for accidentally murdering Arthur Phillips (Kenneth Thompson) his friend and manager for making advances on his wife. Upon his release, Joe meets with his son at a private school grounds during recess. When son is struck by a passing truck, Joe takes him to Doctor Arthur Phillips (Holmes Herbert), a specialist and Katherine's former beau now working for him as his private nurse. Phillips agrees to perform the delicate operation on the condition that Joe goes away, grants Katherine a divorce so he can marry her, or else pay the high fee of $5,000.

As syrupy as the plot sounds, it's even more thicker on screen. Relying heavily on the success of THE SINGING FOOL, lightning didn't strike twice for Jolson, Lee and director Bacon. Jolson and Lee even repeated some of the same sentimental gimmicks, including Davey Lee's raising his arms for Daddy to pick him up and give him a kiss. Some heavy melodramatics might have worked somehow had it not been for Jolson's bad acting, hearing scratchiness in his voice, looking back and forth leaving his mouth open as if he were waiting for further instructions from his director. Overacting is evident as Jolson cries in his jail cell after telling his wife he never wants to see her again. Even worse, after he finds that it's his own son who's been struck by a passing truck, he unconvincingly shouts out, "Oh my God, it's MY baby"; or when Jolson sings "One Sweet Kiss" on a coast to coast radio hookup on Christmas day, he does this in such dramatic manner it almost leaves an impression that he was hoping for an Academy Award nomination. Regardless of the results, the finished product is often embarrassing to watch, especially for a story that's supposed to take place in a considerable time frame of several years, only to have its major characters, especially little Davey, not aging a day. As Robert Osborne mentioned in his 1994 commentary on Turner Classic Movies, audiences flocked to theaters to see the film (hoping to get more of that Jolson magic, as he did with THE SINGING FOOL), but business dropped off in a hurry, and movie quickly disappeared. At least it didn't became one of many lost films from the "dawn of sound" era.

SAY IT WITH SONGS, such as it is, does have scenes of some potential, first where Joe sings "Why Can't You" to his fellow prisoners, followed by a montage and split screen of fellow convicts, concluding with Jolson's singing showing his face behind the prison bars; second where little Davey falling asleep, dreaming of his Dad appearing to him while singing "Little Pal"; and another borrowing from the climactic scene of the silent version of STELLA DALLAS (1925) which has Joe looking in on his son from the outside window.

Marion Nixon, in her Janet Gaynor manner, wasn't much help in her partake as Joe's wife through some bad acting, but it's Jolson's performance that bogs down the plot considerably. Aside from the lead actors, Davey Lee has his tender moments on screen, but at times (as his eyes look towards the camera), it's hard to understand what he's saying. One scene where he follows his father down the street comes off funny considering how he's wobbling about either like a puppet or silent film comic Charlie Chaplin.

SAY IT WITH SONGS does have its considerable amount of songs, none listed on the hit parade. The songs include: "Used to You," "Little Pal," "I'm in Seventh Heaven," "Why Can't You?" "One Sweet Kiss," "Little Pal," "Little Pal" (reprises) and "I'm in Seventh Heaven." Supposedly distributed in theaters at 95 minutes, TV print that airs on TCM, is 85 minutes, ten minutes shorter. One noticeable cut occurs in the early portion of the story in the radio station where Joe Lane asks one of the visiting sponsors if he wants to hear his new song, "I'm Crazy for You." After Joe goes over to the piano to plug it, the scene that follows is dialog between Katherine and Arthur Phillips in his office. Another reported song, "Back in Your Own Back Yard," supposedly written for the film, is also absent. While both these songs do not exist in the existing print, they are, however, included in a 1980s soundtrack recording titled "Legends of the Musical Stage (Rare Soundtrack Recordings 1928-1930), compliments from Sandy Hook Records. SAY IT WITH SONGS never made it to video cassette, but did become part of the Al Jolson film collection when distributed on laser disc in the early 1990s, and a TCM archive collection onto DVD in 2010.

SAY IT WITH SONGS is not the kind of movie one would see for entertainment, but solely as a curiosity to find out why it failed and why it doesn't hold up today. One can be thankful, however, for TCM airing SAY IT WITH SONGS, for that it has satisfied my curiosity. (**)

9 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
JOLSON STORY style Kickstarter larrystopmo-1
Discuss Say It with Songs (1929) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: