The Jazz Singer (1927)


“We in the show business have our religion too – on every day, the show must go on!” – Jack Robin

Number of Times Seen – 1 (30 Nov 2020)

Brief Synopsis – A Cantor’s son wishes to be a famous Jazz Singer instead of following in his father’s footsteps.

My Take on it – This film is famously known for being the very first movie to utilize the advent of sound in movies.

The premise of the film is a timeless one that deals with the way that the melting pot of America was instrumental in creating a more secular society.

Al Jolson does a nice job in the lead role and is able to make us believe both his religious and secular sides as things unfold since it seems very realistic and genuine.

The film’s choice to mix sound and silent scenes is quite effective while trying to highlight the musical aspects of the story.

The film has some very dramatic scenes between the lead character and his parents and the performances feel a bit too wooden to be truly effective yet that was the norm at the time, so it isn’t hard to have expected things to be like that.

Bottom Line – Interesting premise that deals with the secularization of the melting pot of America. Jolson does a nice job in the lead role and makes both the religious and secular aspects of his character seem quite genuine throughout.  The mix of sound and silence helps accentuate the musical aspects of the film and I’m sure was quite effective when this was debuted since it was the first “sound” film to ever be released. The dramatic moments between The lead character and his parents is a bit strained and wooden, but that is somewhat expected of the time this was made. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Many documentaries and historians state that immediately after the release and success of The Jazz Singer (1927) that all of Hollywood switched to sound. This is not true for several reasons. First, there were two competing and incompatible sound systems. The Vitaphone process was cumbersome, relying on an electro-mechanical interface between the projector and the turntable. Fox’s Fotofilm was a superior sound-on-film process that allowed for easier editing but required a costlier projector (the Vitaphone system would be quietly killed off by 1932). Secondly, either sound process nearly doubled the budget of a film. Thirdly, theater chains faced enormous conversion costs (MGM-parent company Loew’s Inc. owned over 1,000 outlets, and took a deliberately slow wait-and-see attitude toward sound). The first feature film with all synchronous dialog was Lights of New York (1928). Also, in the midst of the talkie-craze of 1928-30, studio bosses were faced with a limited amount of sound equipment and qualified sound technicians, causing them innumerable headaches over which productions to produce as talkies vs. silents. Also, silents were internationally marketable via cheap title card translations while talkies, prior to the advent of subtitles, usually required completely different foreign language versions to be produced simultaneously. Low budget producers of westerns along poverty row were especially impacted, with silents continuing in that market through the end of 1930. Many studios continued to produce both silent and sound versions of their films, including the classic All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (7/10)

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