First, it is a great story of the dilemma faced by a son between following a path set by his family and culture, in contrast with pursuing his own career ambitions.
This is a story with great relevance today.
Second, it is the first "talking picture." As a piece of cinema history, it is a missing link between silent and talking pictures.
The Jazz Singer is conceived and photographed as a silent picture, and follows all silent picture conventions, but has several synchronized sound segments - with performances by the great Al Jolson - worked in.
The most memorable to me is the scene with Jolson talking to his mother, with Jolson sitting at the piano.
Third, Al Jolson was the most popular superstar of his day; he is compared in popularity to Michael Jackson, Elvis, and Bing Crosby combined at their peaks. In a world before radio, television, and sound pictures, the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway in NYC was built for Jolson and he filled it for years.
Finally, "The Jazz Singer" is an historical document looking at New York in the 1920's. That world is long long gone. The sets, the costumes, the types of the actors, all reflect a rich and interesting world that no longer exists.
Don't look at "The Jazz Singer" as some historical oddity or museum piece. As a piece of entertainment, culture and history, it is very powerful and riveting.
As far as I am concerned, it is highly recommended.
Can't wait for the DVD version to come out, with whatever extras might be included. Hope they do pick another cover illustration .
But that isn't all. Al Jolson, once called the greatest entertainer ever, stretches his acting ability to the limit here. Warner Oland is excellent as well as the intolerant but devout father. The dilemma faced by Jakie is incredibly heart rending and Jolson shows this well. Faced with choosing between his own "God" and his father's God, Jolson portrays a man trapped in a desperate situation. The one scene where Jolson really shines finds him between his mother on one hand and his boss and love interest on the other. The next to last scene is startling and brought tears to my eyes. Watch this movie. You will be doing yourself a favor.