Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Jazz Singer

The Jazz Singer ~ Okay, I confess, I've never seen the classic 1927 The Jazz Singer before, heck, I've never even seen the 1979 Neil Diamond version. I know, I know, how dare I call myself a film critic and not have seen it. Well, sit still, I'm amending that tonight as I watch it.

I know of the film's importance, in fact I know quite a bit about it, just never sat through the whole thing before. We all know the story, Al Jolson plays Jakie Rabinowitz, the son of a devout Jewish cantor who wants his son to replace him when he retires, all Jakie wants to do is be a song and dance man on stage. It's a touching, time honored story, one that resonates today. The generation gap always works, just ask Neil Diamond.

The film is often noted as being the first talkie, but in reality, only a few sequences feature what was called 'synchronized dialogue.' And despite the name, there's not really all that much dialogue beyond the six songs featured. That said, the musical sequences are amazing, and probably startled and stunned audiences for the better when it was first seen in movie theaters.

The Jazz Singer, despite its reputation is primarily a silent film, with terrific singing episodes, and it's also a damn good flick with dynamic if melodramatic performances. But then again, silents operated on the melodrama principle, so no points off. This is a great film, not really what I expected, but still one of the best films of its era. See it if you get a chance. The DVD has some wonderful background material.

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1 comment:

  1. I've seen this film a few times on TCM, but now I want to see it again. I like old films, especially anything with Cary Grant.