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Continuing where 'The Jolson Story' left off, this sequel explores a less exciting part of Al Jolson's life, however it is saved from dullness by a great gimmick in the final 25 minutes: depicting the making of 'The Jolson Story', which includes Jolson meeting Larry Parks. It is certainly inferior to the first film, but yet still entertaining whenever Parks performs one of Jolson's tunes the songs are still great. Although he does not look or sound old enough, Parks still gives it his best too. The film definitely resurrects good memories of the original, without a strong yearning to see something better, which is a good thing. The characters, the acting, the originality, in fact, just about everything was better in 'The Jolson Story', however, even if not quite as involving or as well made, this still passes the test for an adequately amusing piece.
The sequel to The Jolson Story with Larry Parks playing himself and meeting Al Jolson for the first time to do this film. Jolson also appears in a long shot of a ramp scene singing Swanee River, but most people didn't know this until years later. The story begins with a Hollywood producer wanting to do the story, and takes up where Jolson's first wife gets a divorce. The movie of his life is a big winner! Later, during WW II, Jolson goes overseas to entertain troops, catches malaria, and while in a hospital falls in love with his nurse; a kind and patient beautiful nurse, played by Barbara Hale. William Demarest plays Jolson's manager and press agent. Ludwig Donath plays cantor again, and momma is played by Tamara Shayne, who lend much humor to the story. Perfect for those who loved Jolson and his music! This production won 3 Oscar nominations for writing, cinematography and musical scoring. I give it 10/10
JOLSON SINGS AGAIN (Columbia, 1949), directed by Henry Levin, is a
sequel to the highly successful THE JOLSON STORY (1946), which focuses
on the life and times of legendary entertainer, Al Jolson (Larry
Parks), continuing where the previous film left off, singing to his
heart's content to a night club audience as his wife, Julie (Evelyn
Keyes, in a role based on Ruby Keeler), finding that her husband is
much happier singing to his audience than being in retirement with her,
is seen walking out of the club and his life forever. With the film
released three years later, one would have to assume that it had taken
Al Jolson nearly three years to finally stop singing and get down to
reality that his wife is out of the picture and not ever coming back.
In the opening of this sequel, Jolson (Parks) returns home to find Julie has packed up her bags and is gone for good. He searches for her, only to find that she has divorced him. With the advent of World War II, Jolson returns to show business by entertaining the troops overseas. During this time he finds sadness with the death of first his mother (Tamara Shayne), and later his father (Ludwig Donath). Jolson continues to be a trooper and perform whenever and wherever he's needed, but due to overwork and little rest, he collapses during a performance. He is later nursed back to health by Ellen Clark (played by Barbara Hale, based on Jolson's fourth wife, Erle Galbraith, an X-ray technician), whom he soon marries. In spite of his great showmanship, Jolson faces a setback in his career, receiving no offers and finding himself passed over by a newer generation of singers, like Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra. When Jolson gets a chance to appear in an all-star benefit, his name is not among the many stars listed in the program, thus coming in last to sing one song to a half empty theater. Jolson's song captures the attention of Colonel Ralph Bryant (Myron McCormick), an avid fan who had previously met Jolson during his war tour. Now a movie producer, he stumbles upon an idea in producing a motion picture based on the life of the great Jolson, a big gamble that would soon pay off.
A half hour shorter than its predecessor, JOLSON SINGS AGAIN, at 96 minutes, fails to disappoint when it comes to bringing back many of the old Jolson songs, as before, sung by the real Jolson but lip-sync by Larry Parks. The soundtrack is as follows: "Rockabye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody," "Is It True What They Say About Dixie?" "For Me and My Gal," "Kol Nidre" (traditional Jewish prayer); "Back in Your Own Back Yard," "I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover," "When the Red-Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob Bobbin' Along," "Give My Regards to Broadway," "Chinatown My Chinatown," "I'm Just Wild About Harry," "Baby Face," "After You've Gone," "I Only Have Eyes For You," "Sonny Boy," "Toot-Toot Tootsie, Goodbye," "California, Here I Come," "California, Here I Come" (reprise); "You Made Me Love You," "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy," "My Blushin' Rosie," "Mammy," "The Spaniard Who Blighted My Life," "California, Here I Come" (reprise); "About a Quarter to Nine," "The Anniversary Song," "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee," "April Showers," "Pretty Baby," "Carolina in the Morning," and "Rockabye Your Baby With a Dixie Nelody" (reprise, finale). As many songs heard in this and the previous Jolson story, it is evident there are more songs to go around that never made it to the final print.
Other than William Demarest and Bill Goodwin reprising their roles as Steve Martin and Tom Baron, the supporting players include: Robert Emmett Keane, Eric Wilton, Martin Garralaga and Larry Parks. Yes, Larry Parks! Parks is the star in this production playing Al Jolson, but he also appears as himself during the Hollywood sequence where Jolson meets Larry Parks prior to the production of THE JOLSON STORY. Barbara Hale as Jolson's new and younger wife, is extremely likable. Unlike the Julie character, Hale's Ellen doesn't have a hold on her husband and agrees to let him do what he is put on Earth to do, and is to live up to his reputation as "the world's greatest entertainer."
While some may argue that JOLSON SINGS AGAIN to be an unnecessary sequel, but in fact, is a worthy follow-up. Since the earlier film found Jolson's wife leaving him during a performance, the question remains as to what becomes of Jolson afterwards. JOLSON SINGS AGAIN explains it, tracing his up and down career during the war years of the 1940s, and centers on a harsh reality as to how even the most popular of entertainers can no longer be wanted and soon forgotten by the industry. Jolson happened to be one of the fortunate ones to have achieved his greatest comeback. While many bio-pics of the day focus on the subject matter already deceased, the Jolson movies are rare cases where the central character is very much living. The real Jolson died in 1950, so chances for a third Jolson story was unlikely. As for Larry Parks, the other films in which he starred had failed to become as memorable as his two Jolsons. His career suffered a setback during the early 1950s during the McCarthy-ism era.
THE JOLSON STORY and JOLSON SINGS AGAIN make worthy double bills whenever shown on Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: December 13, 2007). While both films have turned up on both home video and DVD, it's JOLSON SINGS AGAIN that has lacked frequent television exposure in recent years. As sequels go, JOLSON SINGS AGAIN is as good as it gets. And with Technicolor, it's an added plus. (***1/2)
As a rule, sequels don't usually measure up to the original. Of course there are exceptions and this is one of them. Once again, Larry Parks does an amazing job of mouthing the words to Jolson's singing voice and sings a number of great standards. This time the plot focuses on Jolson's disillusionment with show business after his wife leaves him. Prompted by his agent (William Demarest), he agrees to be an entertainer during World War II and on one of his tours he meets a pretty nurse (Barbara Hale) whom he marries. High quality script has Jolson coming to Hollywood for a bio on his life and meeting Larry Parks (courtesy of trick photography). Song-filled gem is a worthy sequel and proved it by winning three Oscar nominations for writing, cinematography and musical scoring. Hale looks great and her pleasant personality adds sparkle to the film, while Parks is once again quite convincing in his colorful role.
This film is unique, as a sequel to the original "biographical" picture
three years earlier. Actually, placed in tandem with "The Jolson
Story," it begins precisely where the original ends. Together, they
present one unified story (as fictionalized as it is) of Jolson from
his mid-teens to the period of his rejuvenated career (even besting
Crosby and Sinatra as the country's top male vocalist) - when he is now
in his 60's, not long before his career was ended by a fatal heart
attack, at age 64 (some sources indicate 65).
If viewed together, "Jolson Sings Again" comprises with the predecessor a seamless 3-hour 44-minute presentation of this great entertainer's work. As with the original, much is pure fiction in the way it portrays Jolson's persona. This is even affirmed to a degree when Parks indicates to the screen writing team, after it is arranged in this picture to film "The Jolson Story," that they can juggle dates and facts as they like. He indicates his desire simply to show the performer who loved to entertain. A good friend of mine, who is an entertainer, a member of "The Jolson Society," and who has known some who themselves knew Jolson personally - as well as other things I've heard and read - indicated specific variances to this story.
Jolson apparently, instead of agreeing reluctantly to have his life story filmed, vigorously pursued this end. He also, with equal vigor, argued that he play himself, and purportedly did not have quite as "warm and fuzzy" relationship with Larry Parks as shown. It is also unbelievable, even "corny," how this man could be as amazed, even confused, by some of the events in the film. He had been singing during his entire life, starred in the first "talking" picture, appeared in several films, and made numerous records - from their earlier times. He was one of the pioneers through numerous innovations over many years years, in both film and records. Yet in the story, he is portrayed as naive, and totally surprised, to see the recording facilities the movie producer has. He exhibits an almost child-like amazement upon being shown the film clip of Parks' miming in-costume his recording of "Toot Toot, Tootsie" -- which the producer and Al's wife had "prodded" him into making. Although still interesting to view in the film, this is the most far-fetched of fiction.
One area of the story completely in harmony with real life, though, was depiction of his various tours entertaining armed service personnel. Jolson was admirably every bit as dedicated towards entertaining our military, as shown (actually, perhaps even more so!) - and did so during several conflicts, from the Spanish American to Korean Wars (visiting troops of the latter at his own expense) .
The portrayal of his continuing relationship with William Demarest's "Steve Martin" composite/fictional character, and Barbara Hale as his wife (2nd in this story, 4th in real-life) are warm and enjoyable to observe (Demarest's "Steve" is the spriest senior citizen ever, on film or off -- based on the overall time line of the two pictures, he would have been well into his 80's). And like the original, the music in this sequel is outstanding, the performances well-acted,
Wonderful sequel to the 1946 film. Larry Parks, William Demarest and
several others repeated their parts from the original.
The film picks up exactly where the original had ended. Disgusted with his life, Jolson (Parks) walks out on his show business career and for several years travels, dabbles with horses and lives a real care-free life.
With the death of his mother, (Tamara Shayne-who really doesn't look or act too Jewish at all), Jolson embarks on a tour for services until illness ends that.
There is a nice performance by Barbara Hale (the future Della Street) as the southern nurse that he marries. Hale has just the right Arkansas twang in her speech to carry it off.
When illness follows him, Jolson withdraws from entertaining fearing that his lung operation has affected his voice. He also feels that no one is really interested in him anymore. Unfortunately, the latter is true.
It is only when his life story is made into a motion picture that he makes a genuine come back.
Parks is absolutely amazing as Jolson. Though Al sang, Parks does a brilliant job of dubbing. His mannerisms are so easily identified as those of Al Jolson.
Ludwig Donath plays Jolson's cantor father. O my, a cantor eating in a non-kosher restaurant. What were the Hollywood writers thinking?
Just hearing Jolson belt out his usual great tunes is great in itself. Entertaining and wonderful to view.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This takes the Jolson story that stage further, it shows him slide into a rut of self pity, then when realising he has something to live for he fights back in his own way.Jolson was one of the first entertainers to travel and give troops a show.The energy of the man comes through , he was no saint and i bet at times he was very difficult but the talent shines through.The film fetches back a lot of characters from the first movie, and lets be honest if your a fan you will love this.Barbara Hale is excellent as the love interest and its an inspiring movie all round.There's a clever sequence when filming the Jolson story which has Larry Parks as himself and the star.Watch and enjoy.I also hope a new film about Jolson will be made in the near future.
This is the follow-up movie to The Jolson Story. It brings Al Jolson back into the public eye again. The movie may not be the true story of Al Jolson's life, but it is so enjoyable that you will forget this once Jolson starts to sing. Larry Parks is very believable as the great singer and the moment where Jolson meets Larry Parks in the movie, is special. Larry does a wonderful job and he really does seem to sing himself, he certainly does not appear to be just miming the words. Ludwig Donath as his father and William Demarest as his manager and Barbara Hale as his wife, all combine to support Larry Parks in this very enjoyable musical of a great singer.
Jolson Sings Again was a film that was almost demanded to be made by
the general public. The Jolson Story had generated a comeback for Al
Jolson and he was in the word of one of his hit songs, 'sitting on top
of the world' in 1949.
He was going on all cylinders in 1949. Jolie hadn't commercially recorded since 1932. He had done a record of Swanee and April Showers in 1945 that went nowhere. But with the success of The Jolson Story, Decca signed him to a long term deal and he was prolifically recording all his old songs and new contemporary material besides. You should hear his Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific, but not in Jolson Sings Again unfortunately.
Jolson had also replaced Bing Crosby after a couple of interim hosts as star of radio's Kraft Music Hall as Crosby changed sponsors first from Philco Radio to Chesterfield. They guested on each other's programs and those shows are priceless. In fact Bing is mentioned in Jolson Sings Again, but Harry Cohn couldn't get Paramount to part with him for an appearance.
Larry Parks continues his lipsynching to over a dozen Jolson standards and returning from the first film with him are William Demarest, Bill Goodwin, Ludwig Donath, and Tamara Shayne. And this one in bringing Jolson's life up to date stuck closer to the facts than The Jolson Story.
Barbara Hale plays Jolson's fourth wife Erle Galbraith renamed Ellen Clark for the film. I guess Harry Cohn figured he had to since he'd renamed Ruby Keeler, Julie Benson in the first film. It is true she was an army nurse and she met Jolie as a patient there when he collapsed on a USO tour during World War II.
If you liked the first film and Al Jolson in general, no reason you won't like this one.
Can a sequel be as good as the original? Those who say no, think of
"Godfather II." Of course "The Jolson Story" takes us from the time of
his blossoming adolescence to the end of marriage number one, with Ruby
Keeler played by Evelyn Keyes. This sequel is totally absorbing because
it's rapid fire pace, great music, great acting and warmth combined
with the fascinating story of how "The Jolson Story" came to be.
By the time of Pearl Harbor, Jolie's career had taken a nose dive.That is until he got off his rump and hesitatingly decided to TRY to entertain the boys overseas. Incidentally, Al was one of the first celebs to do it but of course will always be overshadowed by Bob Hope and his troupe.
While in the Aleutians, Al meets Officer Ralph Bryant played by Myron McCormick.Bryant was in the cinema profession before joining up and after the war ends, is the one who talks to a depressed Al, sent home twice for illness,about an idea. To take Al into a recording studio to knock out technologically enhanced versions of his great tunes which will be lipsynched by a young actor named Larry Parks. Al begrudgingly decides to opt for it and that's where "liftoff" takes place.
Al is on a rocket ride which opens his career all over again. From the time of "Jolson Story" to Oct.1950 marking his death, he had his own radio program, "Kraft Music Hall" plus a zillion guests spots up and down that radio dial.
The picture is phenomenal as a sequel which I found as entertaining as the original. By the way, it also was nominated for Oscars as was the original. It is a KNOCKOUT film and I highly recommend either renting it or waiting for it on TCM.
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