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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
Despite being a super-popular and historic film, Al Jolson's picture, "The Jazz Singer", is a rather tedious movie when you see it today. Despite its reputation as 'the first talking picture', very little of it actually is this way. The songs are on the soundtrack and SOME of the dialog, but it's essentially a silent movie with a tiresome plot...along with some sound. Here with his follow up picture, "The Singing Fool", the same sort of style of film is here (essentially a silent with added dialog and music) but the overall plot is a bit better...no, a lot better. Now folks watching it today probably won't be very interested, but for its day, this was a dandy little film.
When the film begins, Al is a jovial waiter who occasionally performs in a night club. He's smitten with Molly, though she clearly does NOT reciprocate. However, when he writes a hit song and strikes it big, suddenly Molly is interested and marries Al. They have a young son, who Al adores, and life seems great to Al. However, Molly is an evil tramp and soon bores with married life. So, she runs off with a new guy--taking the baby in tow and leaving Al unable to function. What's next in this soapy film? Watch it and see.
There's a lot to love and a lot that is incredibly dated in this one. The songs might just be the best thing about this film, as I found myself singing along with Jolson's "Sittin on Top of the World" and a few other tunes. As for the tender scenes between father and son, they are a mixed bag. They were tender and enjoyable...to a point. Unfortunately, they often went overboard into a sickly, schmaltzy direction. Jolson certainly did NOT believe in subtlety in these portions of the film! Additionally, like in "The Jazz Singer", hold onto your seat, as the finale includes Jolson in black-face--a common and beloved tradition that would horrify viewers today. Oddly, despite this, the film ALSO has the first, or one of the first black actors in a talking picture-- and the guy is NOT some racist stereotype or buffoon.
Overall, despite the film having many shortcomings, it is STILL quite enjoyable and holds up well--much better than many old talkies. Mostly of interest to film historians and weirdos like me, it's still worth a look for everyone else.
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