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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:
... Al Stone
... Grace
... Molly Winton
... Blackie Joe
... John Perry
... Sonny Boy (as David Lee)
... Louis Marcus
... Cafe Owner, Bill (as Robert O'Connor)
... Maid
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


The world's greatest entertainer Al Jolson in his greatest singing triumph - an absorbing love story. See more »


Musical | Drama





Release Date:

19 April 1929 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

El loco cantor  »


Box Office

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Jolson's song "The Spaniard That Blighted My Life" is no longer in existing prints. The number was cut after its composer, Billy Merson, sued Warner Bros., charging that Jolson's version impinged on his own (Merson's) livelihood, as he was still performing it in the U.K. Only the Vitaphone disc of the song is known to survive. See more »


[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »


There's a Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder
Music by Dave Dreyer
Lyrics by Billy Rose and Al Jolson
Sung by Al Jolson
See more »

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User Reviews

Jolson Sings Again
30 November 2014 | by See all my reviews

Singing waiter Al Jolson (as Al Stone) wants to be song-writer. Inspired by the woman he loves, beautiful blonde Josephine Dunn (as Molly Winton), Mr. Jolson becomes a Broadway musical sensation. Attracted to success and money, Ms. Dunn marries Jolson. From the onset, we know Ms. Dunn is fonder of handsome gangster-types, like Reed Howes (as John Perry). She eventually leaves Jolson, taking his beloved son Davey Lee (as "Sonny Boy") from the singer. Consequently, Jolson falls on hard times. He returns to Blackie Joe's cafe, where he started as a singing waiter, and becomes reacquainted with pretty cigarette girl Betty Bronson (as Grace)...

This follow-up to "The Jazz Singer" (1927) attracted even more box office money than its revolutionary predecessor. The earlier film was considered the first popular "talkie", but was really a "silent" with some dialogue used on the synchronized soundtrack. Quigley Publications, known presently for their annual top 10 money-making stars list, named "The Singing Fool" as their Best Picture of the year. This one has some silent sequences, possibly intending to recapture the magic of hearing Jolson break into the silent medium; the attempt is successful, but may be lost on modern viewers. Today, this looks like hokum of the highest order...

However, Jolson is entertaining and director Lloyd Bacon does well with the players. The plot is trite and obvious, but parts of the film are quite artful. "Sonny Boy" b/w "There's a Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder" went to #1 on the record charts and stayed there for nearly four months, becoming one of Jolson's biggest million-sellers. He was the first recording star to rack up repeated "gold records" and this film preserves his "Sonny Boy" as a video visual. Seeing Jolson sing this song as he held his "Sonny Boy" was what viewers went to see, again and again. It's a great song and effective representation; and, it certainly started a trend.

******* The Singing Fool (9/19/28) Lloyd Bacon ~ Al Jolson, Josephine Dunn, Betty Bronson, Davey Lee

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