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
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.]
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California, Here I Come
Music by Joseph Meyer
Played during the intertitle about the "following four years" See more »
A Considerable Improvement on 'The Jazz Singer'.
The maudlin plot is obviously a matter of taste, but Al Jolson himself said he thought 'The Singing Fool' a better film than 'The Jazz Singer', and it unquestionably displays an impressive advance in the development of the sound film in the space of less than a year, and stands up remarkably well after nearly ninety more.
It's still only a part-talkie (and owes its impressive opening twenty minutes to the fact that it's been shot as a silent with a subjective camera roaming around a vividly depicted speakeasy) to the accompaniment of a Vitaphone score, until Jolson bursts on to the screen, starts his patter and then sings.
Like 'The Jazz Singer', 'The Singing Fool' returns to being a silent film after the first song; but the sound scenes are far more frequent and adroitly assembled into a narrative here, while the Vitaphone score (which also accompanies the dialogue scenes, so we don't get the terrible stilted silences that render so many early talkies almost unwatchable) fluidly papers over the cracks, keeping the entire film flowing gracefully, aided by the smooth photography of Byron Haskin and editing by Ralph Dawson. (Several of the characters speak in both titles and on the soundtrack, including Arthur Housman, in an unusually prominent role in which he remains sober throughout.)
Although leading lady Josephine Dunn is supposed to be a singer herself, we never hear her sing; and her character is so one-dimensionally a heartless high maintenance chancer that - considering she has a hunk played by Reed Howes perpetually in tow - one has time to wonder if Sonny Boy (who looks more like a little girl) is actually Jolson's.
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