Saturday, October 17, 2009

35. The Jazz Singer (1927)

Running Time: 88 minutes
Directed By: Alan Crosland
Written By: Alfred A. Cohn, Jack Jarmuth
Main Cast: Al Jolson, May McAvoy, Warner Oland, Eugenie Bresserer, Otto Lederer


The Jazz Singer marked a big step in the progression of cinema, as it was the first feature length sound movie. Not only is it notable for that reason, but also packs quite a story with it, and is still very enjoyable today.
Cantor Rabinowitz has only one son Jakie, who he expects will follow in his footsteps and become a canter as well. For those of you who aren't aware, a cantor is a someone trained in the vocal arts who leads the Jewish congregation in songful prayer. One day when a neighbor, Yudelson, spots Jakie singing ragtime songs down at the local saloon, he spares no time in getting over to the Cantor's home and spilling Jakie's secret. When Jakie arrives home he is given a proper whipping, which causes him to leave the house, never to return, much to his mother's dismay.
Years later Jakie, now known as Jack Robin (and played superbly by Al Jolson) turns up in the jazz nightclubs, singing his heart out to please the audiences. When Mary, an already famous nightclub singer spots him and hears his voice, she takes Jack under her wing and brings him with her to stardom. Meanwhile, back home in New York, Cantor Rabinowitz still claims that "he has no son" and his mother misses him terribly.

When an opportunity arises for Jakie to perform on the grand stage of Broadway, back in his home turf on New York, he jumps on board and takes the opportunity. Upon arriving back home, Jakie immediately goes to his parents home and his mother is ecstatic to see him. As he sings her one of his songs, his father walks in and finds him, banishing him from the house and sending him back to his showbiz home on Broadway. When the Cantor turns up ill, it is up to Jakie to make the choice between his career and pleasing his stubborn father and carrying out his family heritage. What will he choose?

When Jolson belts out his rendition of "Dirty Hands, Dirty Face", the first musical number in the picture, it's really a sight and sound to behold. After thirty two silent movies in a row, it was nice to finally hear someone speak. Although, I did enjoy the silent pictures and realized a new found respect for them, it was hard to keep the smile off my face when Jolson sang his tunes. Al Jolson played the part marvelously and you could tell he was as proud as punch to be in the picture, letting all of his emotions flow out, with every musical number he performed. While only the musical numbers and a very small bit of dialogue before and after some of them, is all that is in sound, this is definitely something that anyone claiming to be a movie buff needs to check out.

RATING: 7.5/10 Not only the first talkie, but a great film and one that I would recommend based on the story alone.

NEXT UP: Napoleon...The streak is broken, as I cannot find Napoleon.

October 17, 2009 8:58pm


  1. I have always wanted to seee this one, maybe someday soon I will check it out! Great job!

  2. 'fraid I have to disagree.. If it wasn't for it's historical importance, surely this would have vanished?
    Mawkish, slow.. I could go on, but I shouldn't step on peoples dreams and be rude to films they like. Glad you liked it though, and thanks for the effort. Hope Ruth gets to see it soon.
    Shame you carn't get Napoleon.. I struggled to find it, and ended up with an import for Korea, with all the interboards subtitled in Korean..It's a marathon to get through, and I needed to keep checking my history book to remind myself who St. Just (for example) was, and which faction was against which, but enjoyed it. There si one bit, where they celebrate with church bells,cheering, singing etc etc, when I swear you can hear the roar of the crowd.

  3. It's okay to disagree. I happened to really enjoy this film, although I'll say that it is in no way one of my favorites from the book.


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