The Jazz Singer


Action / Drama / Music / Musical / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 57%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 73%
IMDb Rating 6.8 10 7671


Uploaded By: OTTO
Downloaded 501 times
December 19, 2013 at 12:54 AM



Myrna Loy as Chorus Girl
William Demarest as Buster Billings
Al Jolson as Jakie Rabinowitz
Warner Oland as The Cantor
752.80 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 28 min
P/S 3 / 16

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ElMaruecan82 9 / 10

Pivotal milestone but also Powerful and Poignant Drama

"Isn't there anything that touches you, that warms you? Every man has a dream, what do you dream about?"

That quote comes from my favorite moment of Stanley Kramer's "Inherit the Wind" the movie about the monkey trial ending with the atheist lawyer, played by Spencer Tracy, admitting off the record the power of faith. He wasn't against religion but the way religion could become an oppressive force while its quest for a spiritual meaning could generously provide the kind of harmony every man seeks.

That's the idea of "The Jazz Singer", a film about two men who have their own religion, a rabbi who believes in the word of God and his son Jacob (Al Jolson) who believes he can only sing his truth by entertaining people. What they all have in common besides belonging to a prestigious generation of Cantors is the same 'tear' in the voice, and this is the stuff you can't cheat with. Yet the father won't allow his son to disgrace the family by shouting or dancing to pagan rhythms, the mother is more understanding.

Religion becomes oppressive and pushes little Jackie to leave the house and fulfill his dream. The rest is history... and today, the movie is mostly famous for being the first talkie, and the talkies couldn't have a better start than something enlightening us about the power of a voice, of music, and how it translates your thoughts, your emotion, your demons so powerfully it can reach other souls. There's something in "The Jazz Singer" that fittingly touches the essence of the medium and we might have noticed it if we weren't so busy looking at it as a pioneer.

Indeed, I've been interested in movies ever since 1995 and the whole centenary celebration. In these Internet-less times, there wasn't a book I opened, a documentary I saw that didn't mention the iconic "Jazz Singer". You'd have asked me as a kid about the first talking picture, I would give you the title and the most iconic image, a singing black-faced man... and I thought that the movie was only consisting on a man singing, a short film whose novelty was enough to made a sensation.

Then I saw the first excerpts from "Goodfellas" with the "Toot, Toot, Tootsie" part, then being an AFI buff, I discovered the line "Wait a minute, you ain't heard nothing yet" the first unsung line of history. I noticed many cartoons of the Golden Age made a reference to the "Manny" song. And then, I saw the episode of "The Simpsons" revealing that Krusty the Clown was estranged with his father, a rabbi who disowned him after he became an entertainer. I know it's not a very interesting story but just to say that all these little pieces of the puzzle made me believe that "I saw everything yet".

But I didn't! What makes the film so great has actually nothing to do with its status. Of course, the music is integral to its power, but had this film been the second or third talking picture, it would have changed absolutely nothing to its greatness. Yes, it is outdated by many elements (actually there aren't many talking parts) but the film is as modern and relevant today as it was nine decades ago as a riveting portrayal of an inner conflict, a man who has a dream but a heart too.

Our Jazz singer must choose between whether the show must go on and the call of his race, from deep inside. There comes a point where he either misses his first show on Broadway or not sing during the Atonement ceremony because his father is too sick. At that moment, I was at the edge of my seat as if I was watching a thriller. I've said it once and I say it again, the greatest thrills come from these powerful conflicting dramas.

And when Jackie says "I must choose between losing my career or breaking my mother's heart", I couldn't handle the desperation, whatever ex-machina could have saved him, I was ready to accept it, Because Jackie wasn't just desperate, he was angry at his boss to ask him to abandon his parents or threaten him to lose his job. That climactic sequence was one of the most powerful I've experienced recently and the resolution was just perfect.

Ebert said about Astaire's blackface number in "Swing Time" that, according to the Cinebooks essay, it was "perhaps the only blackface number on film which doesn't make one squirm today", I know there was some controversy around Jolson's blackface, but when he sang Manny, I was literally hypnotized by the tears in his voice and could see beyond the race. Just like any non-Jewish person can relate to Jackie, I don't think the blackface is played as an insult or whatever derogatory, if anything, this is a film that more plays for the ears than the eyes, and for the spirit, more than the ears.

Speaking of religion, "The Jazz Singer" is also one of the first movies immersing us in a faith that is not Christian, a film that takes you in the intimacy of a culture. Hollywood was created by many immigrants who escaped from the pogroms in Eastern Europe, it's only fitting that one of the seminal Hollywood movies plays like a tribute to their faith, especially since religion is never preached but plays like an antagonist at first before reconciling with jazz through the idea that it's only a way to reach people, after all, if music wasn't so powerful, psalms wouldn't be sung and jazz wouldn't have religious songs.

So I conclude by saying that it's more than a pivotal moment in Hollywood history, it's a great movie on its own merits, I said about "The Mission" that it was the greatest movie about the three universal languages of the soul: faith, love and music, well, maybe I'd consider "The Jazz Singer" a close second.

Reviewed by JohnHowardReid 7 / 10

Dated but still worth seeing!

Assistant director: Gordon Hollingshead. Sound recording: George R. Groves. Vitaphone Sound System. Sound technician: William A. Mueller. Sound supervisor: Nathan Levinson.

Copyright 6 October 1927 by Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. New York opening at the Warners' Theatre, 6 October 1927. U.S. release: 4 February 1928. 9 reels. 8,117 feet. 90 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Young man wants to be a jazz singer, but dad wants him to follow in his footsteps as cantor in the local synagogue.

NOTES: Special Academy Award, Warner Bros.: "for producing The Jazz Singer, the pioneer outstanding talking picture, which has revolutionized the industry." Also nominated for Writing Adaptation (Seventh Heaven) and Special Engineering Effects (Wings).

Domestic rental gross: $3½ million. Re-made as The Jolson Story (1946), The Jazz Singer (1953), The Jazz Singer (1980).

Although this was the first feature film in which spoken dialogue was heard from the screen, that dialogue was limited. The Jazz Singer is primarily a silent movie with a synchronized music score, plus songs.

The original Broadway play opened at the Fulton on 14 September 1925 and ran a highly successful 315 performances. Albert Lewis directed Howard Lane, Sam Jaffe and star, George Jessel, who was contracted to do the movie but balked when the studio decided to add sound to four songs. He demanded more money. The studio refused and Jolson was engaged instead.

COMMENT: The story set the pattern for talkies — sentimental, synthetic, a bit of manufactured drama carelessly tossed away to cater for box office demand — and nowhere is this more evident than at the conclusion where a title card glibly explains that time heals all wounds and allows Jolson to go into his concluding number Mammy.

Jolson's last two numbers in blackface are infinitely more acceptable than his others owing to his exaggerated mannerisms which even by silent standards (and in contrast to most of the other players — Besserer and Lederer even are not this bad) are exceedingly hammy.

Jolson and Besserer are the only players that have any dialogue and then only in one stretch. Jolson has a few other lines between numbers and Oland has one word, "Stop!" The other players are completely speechless, though Cantor Josef Rosenblatt has a song and young Bobbie Gordon has a couple of numbers (though we suspect his are dubbed). There is very little use of sound effects — applause only — even obvious effects like knocking on doors being underscored only by music — and that too is kitsch.

Still, May McAvoy makes a charming heroine, Myrna Loy is effective in a bit as a sneaky-eyed gossiping chorus girl. And even without his voice Roscoe Karns' personality comes across in his single scene at the railroad station. Demarest has a tiny part as a ravenous diner.

The film is rather slow and the direction (aside from a rapid tracking shot through the street on Jolson's return home) is undistinguished — although I like the way he solves the problem of keeping the story going at the climax during the songs, by intercutting them with sub-titles!

Reviewed by ironhorse_iv 7 / 10

The Jazz Singer is not as smooth, as some critics, make it out to be. Still, I have to give it, some credit. It was truly a historic milestone

Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothing' yet! Adapted for the screen by screenwriter Alfred A. Cohn, and based on Samson Raphaelson's 1921 short story "The Day of Atonement" which also popular the 1926 Broadway play of the same name. The film tells the fictional story of a young Jewish man, Jakie Rabinowitz (Al Jolson), who defies the traditions of his devout family, in order to become a famous jazz singer, under the name, Jackie Robin. Without spoiling the movie, too much, Warner Bros.' and director Alan Crosland's 1927's 'The Jazz Singer' was a mixed bag for me. While, I do champion it, for being one of the pioneers of motion pictures with synchronized sound & dialogue, it's still far from being the great use of it. What confuses me about this film, is odd use of dialogue title cards. I don't get, why they kept most of the dialogue silent, if they did had the ability to put sound effects, music, and singing. It made the film, a little bit jarring. I know, the Vitaphone sound-on-disc system might have been expensive to use, but I felt the film should had either, go all the way, with the sound or none at all. Seeing the film, go halfway, felt a bit lazy. In total, the movie contains barely two minutes, worth of synchronized talking, much or all of it improvised. It's not a 'talkie', as much as film historian, think it is. Another complain, I have against this film is the idea that this, was the first 'talkie'. In truth, the development of commercial sound cinema have start, way before 'The Jazz Singer', became an idea for a film. The first synchronized sound probably started with a film made by William K.L. Dickson at the Thomas A. Edison laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey in the fall of 1894, however the phonograph cylinder have long been badly damaged that's it's nearly unplayable to modern viewers to prove the claim. Nevertheless, later films like 1905's Phonoscène short film about vaudeville artist, Polin by female pioneer Alice Guy-Blaché proves that synchronized singing has been, done, way before, this film, came out. So, why is this movie considered as the first talkie then? It's actually quite simple, Warner Bros was the first studio that took the talking movie seriously and also managed to commercialize it with great success. However, the film's success did not change things overnight; it took a few more years, until Hollywood was fully onboard with film with sound. Anyways, there is other things to praise about this film. It's one of the first movies to feature, a Jewish character outside of biblical films. It's very rare to see, a movie focus so much on the conflict of doing cultural assimilation versus keeping cultural diversity. The typical story of a man seeking his place, attempting to find his voice in the world and the struggles he faced, was pretty smart and compelling to see. No wonder, why the Warner Bros, like it. But the film suffers from the same problem that many films from this era, has, with portraying ethic characters in the modern era. It went a little too racism. The older Jews looks a little too straight out of 'Merchant of Venice' central casting for my taste. However, the most offensive thing in the film, is seeing Jackie Robin portraying in blackface on the Broadway stage. That's a little hard to watch for the modern viewer. Yes, I know, it was a common practice at the time, and help single-handedly introduce African-American culture to white audiences. Nevertheless, it's still troublesome, as most of the practice does portray black people as buffoons. Regardless, I tend to be more forgiving in this film's version of blackface, because it does seem like Al Jolson and his character had good reasons to donning the paint. I believe, the film was trying to portray the troubles, most African-Americans and Jewish people were going through, in America through a metaphor of mutual suffering. After all, some of the songs that Al sing, during the film was about life in the poverty line and helping break down racial attitudes. If anything, the performance in blackface feels more like satire, mockery of white society portrayal of Negro culture than on African American, themselves. Pretty much, like the way, people portray author Harriet Beecher Stowe's 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'. It raise eyebrows. Regardless, it's still uncomfortable to watch, even if Al Jolson in real-life, was known for fighting against discrimination. With that say, I would rather have a black Jewish actor portray Jack, than Al Jolson. I really don't think Jolson is a great actor or singer. He comes across, very corny and amateurism. The music that comes with 'the Jazz Singer', also fall to impress me. It doesn't even sound like Jazz. Where was all the scat singing!? I was really hoping for something, more entertaining, like a tune from Duke Ellington, Louie Armstrong, or Adelaide Hall. None of the songs were really that memorable. Some of the music, they chose, doesn't even fit the tone of the film like composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's orchestic work 'Romeo and Juliet'. That was just odd! Overall: I can't say, this movie was the most entertaining film about achieving a singing career. But, at least, I can say, it's better than the 1952, 1959 & 1980's remakes of the same name. In the end, it does deserve to be preservation in the National Film Registry of "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" motion pictures. However, it shouldn't be, nowhere near the top of IMDb 250 films of all-time.

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