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Jazz Singer

Al Jolson , May McAvoy , Alan Crosland , Bobby Connolly    Unrated   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 41.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Jazz Singer + Jolson Sings Again + The Jolson Story
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Generally considered the first sound feature, this 1927 film is pretty much silent except for a few lines of dialogue and Al Jolson's songs. The story finds Jolson playing the son of a cantor who wants him to follow in his footsteps, but the singer prefers secular music. Except for its historical value, the film isn't all that interesting, though it is great to get a sense of why people considered Jolson to be a hugely exciting entertainer at the time. --Tom Keogh


Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Jimmy
Format:VHS Tape
This is an extraordinary film.
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Finally, "The Jazz Singer" is an historical document looking at New York in the 1920's. That world is long long gone.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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly moving film May 20 2004
By A Customer
What lady watching could keep a dry eye at the end when Jack Robin sings Mammy with his own mother proudly watching in the audience? Absolutely moving. The film was not the first part talkie to come outa Hollywood but it was the most successful. And the story rather closely parallels Jolson's real life family story. He was the son of a cantor, the two were originally from Lithuania and Jolson ran away from his dad when he was just a boy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the greatest semi-silent July 26 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I saw the Danny Thomas version of The Jazz Singer when it came out about 50 years ago; forgot the plot. Never got to see Neil Diamond's in full. Then I saw Al Jolson. I was spellbound, wondering what the outcome was going to be. The blackface picture on the box was a little offensive and can cause a distraction. They could have chosen some other scene instead.
Can't wait for the DVD version to come out, with whatever extras might be included. Hope they do pick another cover illustration .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The movie that forever changed Hollywood: Aug. 31 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Almost immediately after Warner Bros' huge financial gamble premiered in Oct 1927, other studios' concerned bigwigs frantically ordered their studios to immediately equip themselves to do sound movies. New careers were made -- and shattered -- overnight. If you haven't seen The Jazz Singer, considered the first "talking movie" (even though there actually were some earlier sporadic experiments) this is a video worth not only seeing but OWNING for several reasons: a)You see Al Jolson at his height. He was one of the first half of the 20th century's biggest stars and some of his stage charisma comes through in this movie's songs. Most of the flick is actually silent except for the songs. Originally he was only supposed to sing, but he ad libbed a few lines and the response was absolutely electric when audiences heard and saw him say these few words on the screen. b)The story's value: a Jewish religious leader's son, torn between tradition (using his voice for religion and following in his dad's footsteps) or to please the masses (as a jazz singer in vaudeville). Follow family tradition or national culture? c)The historical show biz value: the Warner brothers put everything they on the line in doing this flick and if it had failed sound movies would have been set back about 10 years (or more) -- and maybe Bugs Bunny wouldn't have been invented. d)Technical show biz value: The Warners used Vitaphone, which was basically sound on disks synchronized to the film's action. You also get a nice zippy period musical score throughout the movie. f)American history historical value: Note long shots of the Jewish ghetto. They were actual shots of a New York street taken through a window -- NOT extras on a movie set. Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid dilemma Dec 20 2000
Format:VHS Tape
The Jazz Singer, generally called the first talkie is still mostly silent, except for a few songs and a rather lengthy, for the time, dialogue sequence. The movie is worth the watch just for the historical value and the songs are pretty fun too.
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A gift to my Mum
my Mum mentioned she wanted to see this 1927 classic so I was fortunate to find it. She loves it. 87 years old and knows the words of the songs like she was there (she was born the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by P. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars You certainly ain't seen this yet!
The Jazz Singer(released Oct/27)was not the first film with sound,but it had an unprecedented amalgam of elements from films that had come before,making it a first of its kind. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Robert Badgley
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! This box set gives you hours of fascinating viewing
This is the best box set I have ever seen. There are hours of absorbing viewing. The Jazz singer is fully restored with wonderful sound. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2007 by Terry Carroll
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but uneven
"The Jazz Singer" will forever be remembered as being the first Hollywood movie to make the transition from the silent era. Read more
Published on June 14 2003 by The Movie Critic
3.0 out of 5 stars Of Historical Interest Only
Rather than follow in his father's footsteps, a Jewish cantor's son runs away from home to become a jazz singer; many years later he returns to New York to star in a Broadway show... Read more
Published on May 22 2002 by Gary F. Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars A MILESTONE OF THE CINEMA.
A cantor's son decides to become a singer of popular songs in speakeasies during the "Roaring Twenties". Read more
Published on May 16 2000 by "scotsladdie"
3.0 out of 5 stars The first 'talkie".
Al Jolson was a wonderful singer but he wasn't a particularly good actor. This 1927 classic, the first "talkie", is dated and corny, but at the same time, terrific to... Read more
Published on Dec 8 1999 by Sheridan Nofer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
When I show this video to some of my budding filmmaker buddies, many call it "old...corny." For God's sake, of course it's old. It was filmed in l927. Read more
Published on Sept. 29 1999
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