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The Jazz Singer Reviews

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August 26, 2012
I have some issues with the way Judaism is depicted, but other than that it's a good and historically interesting movie
July 31, 2012
This is worth watching for historical value. I did not know until I watched it this evening that it was actually a silent film with synchronized music and singing interludes, not a full talking picture. If you liked "The Artist" or "Hugo" you'll appreciate this film's historic value. Too, it's interesting to see New York on film 80 years ago.

Having seen it at last, I can check off one of the 1001 Films I Apparently Must See.
Max G

Super Reviewer

June 30, 2012
It's not just the first movie in history with sound, it's a gripping experience about losing and regaining family over a career achievement.
June 24, 2012
The first sound movie has actually only five minutes of sound in it, despite the film being 90 minutes long. It was simply one song, which changed movie history forever. Afterwards, audiences and studios wanted sound forevermore. The story is pretty decent. A Jewish man goes against his family's wishes and follows his dreams as an artist. It's timeless, effective and still holds up today.
April 27, 2012
The first talkie was surprisingly well-made for 1927. Interesting picture that was part-talkie, part-silent. Judaism is a prominent feature in this groundbreaker.

Super Reviewer

March 23, 2008
Hoary old chestnut that should be seen for its historical significance, aside from that its the ripest kind of melodrama. Overwrought acting, clutched bosoms, fevered declamations, the works are on display here. Do keep an eye out for a young Myrna Loy, just starting out, as a chorus girl.
April 26, 2012
for all the historical importance-the first talkie this doesn't hold up at all
April 21, 2012
The first and Al is great!
Chris D.
July 8, 2010
There's something positively electric when he first hear Al Jolson belt out "Dirty Hands, Dirty Face", the first minutes of synchronized sound in a full-length feature. I found it to be captivating, and for me the most memorable moment is the joy of Jolson's mother as he sings "Blue Skies" to her, and the back and forth dialog they have about buying her a pink dress. It's something special when you know about, and the actors are discovering, this new format for movies.

That said, the film's music is the best part, and while the story of a Jewish boy how is forced from his home when his father won't accept his love of jazz is an interesting one, I think it gets a bit slow at times, and overly sentimental. It hardly distracts from this watershed of a film, and I couldn't think of a better choice of the first "talkie" than a musical, particularly jazz.

Super Reviewer

November 14, 2011
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see Michel Hazanavicius' lovable The Artist, a film about a silent film actor's fall from stardom as Hollywood made the transition from the Silent Era to the Sound Era in 1927. My love for The Artist sparked my interest in The Jazz Singer, the very first feature-length film to incorporate synchronized sound into its story. Its popularity at the time led to the Talkie Revolution seen in The Artist. I feel that The Jazz Singer's legacy and impact on cinema is much more impressive than the actual quality of the film itself. It is one of the most historically important and influential films of cinema, but by today's standards it is rather dull and has aged very poorly. The acting in particular is somewhat awkwardly portrayed. The storyline of a man running away from home to pursue stardom seems overdone and cliche, but that is not to say that it wasn't original in its time. Perhaps this story was creative or daring in 1927, but it's nothing new for a modern audience. The flow of the film feels clumsy and disjointed as it repeatedly switches back and forth between silent and sound film. The film is even a bit racist at times as well.

When The Jazz Singer is viewed through the eyes of a modern audience, it is difficult to comprehend the impact this seemingly insignificant film had on cinema. It spurred what many view as the greatest revolution in the history of film. Despite its many flaws, I cannot bring myself to fail it, as it has influenced films in so many ways. I can also be somewhat generous with my rating because it had the challenge of being the very first film to be done in this manner. After decades of silent films with title cards being tradition, I can imagine that it would have been hard to make the very first film of its kind, not having any other examples to go by. The Jazz Singer is full of holes but its historical significance cannot go unnoticed.
December 28, 2011
"The Jazz Singer" is the experiment that changed cinema forever. This is the first feature-length talkie and its popularity challenged every film studio to begin filming with sound, establishing talkies as the new standard. It is actually a hybrid of a silent film and a talkie, as the musical sequences are the only sections with an accompanying vocal track. I've seen silent films before, but the inclusion of sound really made me notice the silent moments - I chuckled as Debbie Reynolds' monologue from Singing in the Rain about "pantomime on the screen" came to mind, showing me how true that statement was and how revolutionary the inclusion of sound in film became. This film is an accurate representation of life in the 1920's and, although I have trouble getting into silent films, I enjoyed its heartfelt conflict between honoring your parents and pursuing your dreams. The film moved at a good pace and I was never bored with it. Al Jolson IS this entire movie with the perfect personality (and unique voice) to bring talking into the world of film. The beauty of his voice is reason enough to watch this film, as well as the cute love story between him and May McAvoy. It is a true testament to their acting because, without a single word of dialogue between them, you will fall in love with their love story. You can really see the transition between the older generation of silent film stars and the new generation of talkies during the scene of dialogue between Jolson and his mother. He delivers all of the dialogue with vigor as she shyly sits without uttering much of anything. She really seems to be uncomfortable with the scene, but in all of her silent sequences she shines. My only complaint about this film is its use of blackface. I always feel uncomfortable with anything involving blackface, but became okay with it in this circumstance for two reasons. 1. It is culturally significant to this character piece from the 1920's. 2. There is no racial mocking in the two blackface performances (unlike "Babes in Arms"). I can't give this film my highest rating because there are a ton of films that I'd watch a second time before I'd repeat this one, but I truly enjoyed this piece of cinematic history and believe that it should be seen by everyone to appreciate the progression from silent films to talkies.
September 4, 2011
Unexpectedly the most exiting thing about Jazz Singer is not that it's the first part-talkies, but that it is a story about cantor's son. And the choise between his God and his calling for jazz turns out to be so tense struggle in his soul, that Al Johnson's Kol Nidre sounds like a real prayer.
Allegra S.
September 3, 2011
It was just plain terrible even if it was historically important.
August 30, 2011
Said to be the first feature film ever with audible dialogue.
James K.
August 2, 2011
In the early days of cinema, movies were, for the most part, silent films. This usually meant that a film would be shot, edited, and put together for a local theatre to showcase to the public. Then, in 1927, Warner Bros. released "The Jazz Singer", in which the studio advertised as the first "talking" motion picture. Unfortunately, that statement is false, as the majority of the film is silent with only a few sound bites coming from the songs as performed by Al Jolson. But it is still a historical movie to gander at. Because, for the time, audiences were finally able to hear their favorite actors and actresses rather than reading title cards that came with silent films. "The Jazz Singer" is best known for its historical importance in Hollywood, but if we look a little closer at the film, then we might discover something new.

Based off the play by Samson Raphaelson, the story centers on Jack Robin (Jolson in a performance that's very histrionic) who only wants to be a successful entertainer. Jack does not want to be like his father, who is the head Cantor at the local Jewish synagogue in New York City. One day, Jack comes home to perform a minstrel review for the public, which just so happens to open on the Day of Atonement. A sacred Jewish tradition that Jack has avoided since he was a young boy. On the eve of the Day of Atonement, Jack learns that his father is dying. Jack must then decide which is better: his career, or his family that he left behind.

"The Jazz Singer" is remarkable in a few ways. First and foremost, this movie brought sound to the film industry. Because of this, many other studios followed suite. Finally, the movie brought forth the death of silent cinema. Many actors and actresses of the silent cinema, including one Charlie Chaplin, thought the idea of the studios putting them in a sound picture would not further their career. Unfortunately, the studios said "Get with the program, or you're fired." Eventually, most of the silent film stars, including Chaplin, moved onto sound films. All thanks to "The Jazz Singer" and its use of putting sound into the movies. In fact, the 1952 film "Singin' in the Rain" describes the process of how studios transferred from silent cinema to talking pictures.

Despite the praises that this film gets, "The Jazz Singer" is a severely flawed movie. By this I mean that there are numerous things wrong with the film. For one thing, the film has a look to it that you can watch it and know it was for a certain era. The sound is pretty dated, but you must understand that this was the early days of talking pictures. The editing is a bit sloppy, but that's to be expected in early movies. Finally, the entire production fells like it's attempting to be a full-on stage show.

But what really bothers me is the story. It's pretty much something we all know quite well. The father of the family wants the son to follow in his footsteps, but the son has other ambitions. It's only until the end of the movie that the father realizes his mistake and ultimately forgives his son in the process before the father dies.

It's pretty corny and very predictable. In fact, Hollywood has remade "The Jazz Singer" twice. Once in 1952 done in color, and finally in 1980 with Neil Diamond. It should be clear that if Hollywood decides to remake this movie again, the writers better produce a pretty good story.

Overall, the 1927 version of "The Jazz Singer" should be watched for its historical importance, and that's about it. With the dawn of the sound cinema to lead the way for the future, "The Jazz Singer" is probably a poor choice to start the era of with, but it's still good, nonetheless. Eventually, the technology improved in the sound industry and films got better. Again, this is all thanks to Warner Bros. 1927 movie "The Jazz Singer".
K. C.
June 17, 2011
Synchronous Sound...

Often referred to as the first 'Talking Picture' which is incorrect, 'Singer' was actually the first to utilize Synchronous Sound sewing everything together and creating the best of 'The Talkies' at the time.

I viewed this film on the big screen during Warner Bros. 75th Anniversary celebration which toured the country. If you can see it on screen, I recommend it. A great technological achievement and a massive leap forward for the film industry, it also began the downfall of the Silent Era stars who couldn't adapt and the birth of the 'Dream Factories' in Hollywood's greatest age.
June 3, 2011
"Le chanteur de jazz"
May 15, 2011
The story of the Cantors son touches everybody. Mammy was unbelievably performed.
Sophie B

Super Reviewer

May 12, 2011
An amazing film for its time! I feel awestruck that THIS was the first ever feature length film to include synchronised sound. The narrative and themes are universal and still relevant today, 80 years on. I feel that this would have been even better if they were able to implement sound for the whole film. A beautiful film with beautiful performances. Some people wouldn't be able to look past the fact that it's mostly silent and in black and white, but I'm so glad I was able to do that and experience this film. They didn't just make a random, awful and totally pointless film to add the sound to, they made something worthwhile something where the sound was secondary to the narrative and that's what makes this even more momentous and inspiring. A fantastic chunk of history.
March 5, 2011
If there is one thing that 1927's The Jazz Singer is synonymous for, it would have to be be its technical impact on the world of movies. This film is well-known for being the first to feature scenes of synchronized sound and dialogue. Although not entirely a sound film, it was a definite factor in the decline of previous generations' silent films, and the ushering in of a completely new breakthrough: the "talkie" generation.

However, despite its impact, the plot of this movie is one to be forgotten. It centers around Jakie Rabinowitz, son of two devout Jewish parents, who, despite their intentions for him, runs away to become (you guessed it!) a jazz singer. This story may have been original in its time, but these days it's overdone; thus, the audience can bore quite easily from this movie.

The most superb thing about this film, however, would be its musical numbers. Al Jolson, an American stage performer, plays the main character Jakie (who later adopts the stage name Jack Robin). This movie intended on bringing sound pictures to mainstream audiences in a clever and unique way - through its music scenes. And that it did! The very minute one see Jolson perform "Dirty Hands, Dirty Face" with such gusto, they know they are in for a treat. Not only does Jolson have a great voice and perform with such magnetism, but the nostalgic sounds of the jazz music is so great in itself. Afterwards, we hear Jolson's first spoken words: "Wait a minute! You ain't heard nothin' yet!". Classic!

Unfortunately, not much of the same could be said for the acting pieces. In the few scenes of acting Jolson has, he does so quite awkwardly. It may be that he is used to performing on stage, but there are even certain points where he definitely overacts, to the point where it even becomes ridiculous. Many of the acting scenes in general are just really boring, and the viewers find themselves looking forward to more of the jazz numbers.

Going back towards the musical bits, I'd like to touch upon one scene in particular, possibly the most iconic moment of the movie. At the very end of the film, we see Jolson on stage, in blackface, performing a song entitled "Mammy". Before this movie, Jolson was well-known for performing on stage in blackface; as a result, he was praised by the black community for paying homage to them. He is even regarded as being one of the first individuals to introduce "black" music (jazz and blues) to white communities. These days, however, such an act is seen as politically incorrect, and much negative criticism has recently been fired upon this film. I believe that, no matter how controversial it may seem nowadays, we must take the time to appreciate its impact. Sure it may be regarded as offensive, but without Al Jolson, we would not have had Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, or Cab Calloway (one of my personal favorite jazz artists).

So, to conclude, I believe that the entertainment value of this film is very high, as Al Jolson is such a great performer. However, it has not much else to offer besides feeding one's historical curiosity. Nonetheless, it's a great classic film that is a must-see for any cinephile.
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