This movie begins with a montage of Al Jolson's most famous tunes. This will no doubt shock many, as he's in his signature black-face during this sequence and during several other numbers. While today this would be clearly seen as patently racist, this was how it was back in the day. Plus, the film also had several numbers by Cab Calloway....and he was a black performer. My advice about all this is watch the movie and just understand the context....otherwise, your head might explode!
In "The Singing Kid", Al Jolson plays a guy who's practically a living saint...and he hits hard times. His agent has cheated him out of his fortune and things only get worse. Due to stress and overwork, he loses his voice and must quit show business...at least temporarily. Fortunately, his two sidekicks (Allen Jenkins and Edward Everett Horton) stick by his side...paycheck or no paycheck. Can Al possibly pull himself out of this rut and make something of himself once again?
Aside from the blackface, the film also has another strike against it....they make Jolson's character seem too nice to be real. First, his wife leaves him. Second, he gets cheated out of his fortune. Third, he loses his voice. Yet, through all this, he never loses his temper (except for a tiny second) and is so swell and sweet that the character drips of phoniness. I think toning this back a bit would have made the film better. Now I am NOT saying they needed to make him a snarling beast...just not quite to angelic as he is in this one. Plus, combined with Sybil Jason (the too adorable little girl), the movie is high on the saccharine scale!!
So is it still worth seeing? The music is certainly memorable and exciting to hear. And, Jolson isn't bad at all...he can't help it his character is this sickeningly sweet! I also enjoyed the Yacht Club Boys. This singing group was like the Ritz Brothers with talent. Also, the dialog between Jenkins and Horton was great...with Horton delivering a lot of great zingers. Overall, despite the film's strengths easily outweigh the deficits.
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