The Singing Fool (1928)

  |  Drama, Musical

The Singing Fool (1928) Poster

A singing waiter and composer (Al Jolson) loves two women (Betty Bronson, Josephine Dunn), conquers Broadway and holds his dying son, singing "Sonny Boy."


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30 November 2014 | wes-connors
| Jolson Sings Again
Singing waiter Al Jolson (as Al Stone) wants to be song-writer. Inspired by the woman he loves, beautiful blonde Josephine Dunn (as Molly Winton), Mr. Jolson becomes a Broadway musical sensation. Attracted to success and money, Ms. Dunn marries Jolson. From the onset, we know Ms. Dunn is fonder of handsome gangster-types, like Reed Howes (as John Perry). She eventually leaves Jolson, taking his beloved son Davey Lee (as "Sonny Boy") from the singer. Consequently, Jolson falls on hard times. He returns to Blackie Joe's cafe, where he started as a singing waiter, and becomes reacquainted with pretty cigarette girl Betty Bronson (as Grace)...

This follow-up to "The Jazz Singer" (1927) attracted even more box office money than its revolutionary predecessor. The earlier film was considered the first popular "talkie", but was really a "silent" with some dialogue used on the synchronized soundtrack. Quigley Publications, known presently for their annual top 10 money-making stars list, named "The Singing Fool" as their Best Picture of the year. This one has some silent sequences, possibly intending to recapture the magic of hearing Jolson break into the silent medium; the attempt is successful, but may be lost on modern viewers. Today, this looks like hokum of the highest order...

However, Jolson is entertaining and director Lloyd Bacon does well with the players. The plot is trite and obvious, but parts of the film are quite artful. "Sonny Boy" b/w "There's a Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder" went to #1 on the record charts and stayed there for nearly four months, becoming one of Jolson's biggest million-sellers. He was the first recording star to rack up repeated "gold records" and this film preserves his "Sonny Boy" as a video visual. Seeing Jolson sing this song as he held his "Sonny Boy" was what viewers went to see, again and again. It's a great song and effective representation; and, it certainly started a trend.

******* The Singing Fool (9/19/28) Lloyd Bacon ~ Al Jolson, Josephine Dunn, Betty Bronson, Davey Lee

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