27 December 2007 | hnrobinson
1927 Triumph in Motion Pictures
I have seen the Jazz Singer several times over my 60 years. I became interested in 1920 entertainers when I was in my mid teens. My grandfather had seen Jolson in a few Broadway shows and actually met him on a few occasions. Jolson was, as he claimed, "The Worlds Greatest Entertainer". He wasn't the greatest talent, such as Sammy Davis Jr. was, but his dynamic extroverted personality and the way he could capture an audience in his live Broadway Performances was never captured on screen. I know it may sound strange, but the movie producers just couldn't contain all of his energy and exuberance in front of a camera. His dialog delivery,singing and acting was quite good in this movie. Let us not forget that in 1927, black and white silent films were still the standard. That standard brought over dramatization,dark make up, etc. They were not going to take a chance on giving up the tried and proved silent ways completely. They weren't sure on how sound would go over with the movie attendees. How can that be? Silents were a technology that the audiences accepted. The use of all sound was taking a big risk, and difficult to produce using Vitaphone, which was basically synchronizing large recorded discs to the film. Nearly all of the movie houses were not set up for any type of sound at that time. In my opinion, the sound technology and the performance of Jolson carried the film.
I have great difficulty in understanding the comments listed in the posts of how today's human rights standards can be applied to a film that was created 80 years ago.
We are talking about 1927,and it is hard for me to understand how today's negative comments are made about the Black-face and other racial comments. This was a convention of the time 80 years ago. I do not for a moment agree that the way minorities were treated was correct, but that was 1927, not now! You cannot erase history to make it fit today's standards.
I thought Al Jolson did a superb job in his singing,dialog,and acting in this film for the era. One would need to review and compare the singing and acting styles,that of other performers of the era and make comparisons. Crosby, Sinatra, Eddie Fisher, even Elvis Presley & Jackie Wilson said that Al Jolson was a great influence on their careers. To say he could not sing as in some posts here, is absurd.