This movie shows the idealized career of the singer Al Jolson, a little Jewish boy who goes against the will of his father in order to be in showbiz. He becomes a star, falls in love with a ... Read allThis movie shows the idealized career of the singer Al Jolson, a little Jewish boy who goes against the will of his father in order to be in showbiz. He becomes a star, falls in love with a non-Jewish dancer, and marries her. In the end he chooses success on the stage.This movie shows the idealized career of the singer Al Jolson, a little Jewish boy who goes against the will of his father in order to be in showbiz. He becomes a star, falls in love with a non-Jewish dancer, and marries her. In the end he chooses success on the stage.
The boisterous and the beautiful
This spectacular 1946 Columbia musical in breathtaking almost-3D Technicolor is a very enjoyable if completely implausible musical biography of boisterous Al Jolson and his verbal bullying that apparently enchanted vaudeville in the teens and 20s. Bruce Willis lookalike Larry Parks performs admirably even with Jolson's real voice (Lina Lamont style) and some clever makeup (big rouged bottom lip) and pop eyes does enough to outline Jolson's look to put the part over. Othe comments here will tell you the ridiculous mistakes and glossing over of real events and other people all to condense his chatterbox career into a containable 2 hours. For me, the silliest section was the transition from stage to talkies thru The Jazz Singer and Ruby Keeler's rise as a musical star. Here she is called Julie Benson ( Ruby would'nt play ball for this pic) and somehow it goes from 1927 and The Jazz Singer premiere straight to 42nd St (1933) as if it is the next day. One really stupid scene set in 1927 shows Broadway day and then night... with the Empire State Building in the distance! It wasn't built and opened until 1932! Yeesh. And this pic was made in ' 46. How bad did Columbia's front office expect the awareness of the audience to be! It muddles songs from the later Keeler pics into Keeler's '42ND ST' and then somehow mashes it all together and jumps straight to about 1940. Mom and Pop Jolson are treated with the usual simpleton ethnic manner (food! food ! MUMMA, food!) that tormented Italians in the Marx Bros films. The production is really that star and Columbia certainly presented a handsome art direction effort if incredibly mangled storyline. A massive hit in its day, it spawned a great sequel in 1949: JOLSON SINGS AGAIN. Warner Bros reissued their 1935 Keeler/Jolson musical GO INTO YOUR DANCE in 1946 cashing in on the wake of this Columbia mega success.... maybe also as payback for mangling the mid section of The Jolson Story and their real years at Warners making musicals like DAMES and DANCE. .... GO INTO YOUR DANCE actually a great 30s musical and deserves a DVD reissue of its own.. It is better than a lot of other 30s musicals and with a really beautiful score and terrific dance numbers..... Anyway, in the early 50s poor Larry was harangued in the HUAC hearings that grinded many Hollywood careers to a halt. The pic did get a widescreen reissue and a stereo bump... then shelved.. However, amazingly, in the late 60s after Columbia won the Best Pic Oscar for OLIVER in 1968 and then more Oscars again in 1969 for FUNNY GIRL, there were big plans to reissue THE JOLSON STORY now amped up to 70mm and widescreen (like GWTW at the time) and 6 track stereo. I actually saw trailers for this 'coming attraction' in cinemascope here in Sydney in 1969 and it was all a big deal.... until it never happened. I am assuming it is these excellent stereo soundtrack separations that allow the DVD to be so audibly fantastic as I hear it tonight. Also, the color: original Technicolor, is gorgeous. It is also very easy to get sick of Jolson... as poor Ruby did in real life, and after their divorce refused every to speak of him again for as long as he lived. Jolson died in 1950. Ruby about 1990.
- Dec 14, 2006
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