16 September 2018 | Michael_Elliott
Jolson's Awful Performance Makes the Film Worth Watching
Say It with Songs (1929)
** (out of 4)
Radio personality Joe Lane (Al Jolson) is about to get a major break in his career but his wife (Davey Lee) tells him that his best friend hit up on her. Joe ends up punching the man and this punch actually kills him so he is sent to prison where he dreams of returning to his wife and child.
Jolson made Warner a fortune with THE JAZZ SINGER, which was the first blockbuster that used some songs in what was basically a silent movie. From there Jolson scored another hit and the studio rewarded him with a $500,000 contract for this picture. This here would turn out to be Jolson's first full blown talkie and it also turned into his first box office bomb and in all honesty the film is incredibly awful but thankfully it's so bad that you have to watch it.
I guess I should say that Jolson is so awful that it's easy to recommend this movie. Now, to be fair, Jolson was a singer so perhaps his acting shouldn't be judge too harshly but at the same time he was able to make a career in front of the camera. The most shocking thing is just how truly awful his performance is here. There are some really embarrassing moments scattered throughout the film including one scene where Jolson breaks down crying in his jail cell and is consoled by his cell mate. This is certainly one of the worst and most hilarious things I've seen from a movie during this era.
Even without the awful performance you've got a lot of other campy moments as well. The screenplay is about as generic as you can get and this includes some really bad melodrama throughout. This is especially true towards the end of the picture. I won't spoil what happens but you can't help but sit there and laugh at all of the "drama" that is taking place in front of your eyes. The film's direction from Lloyd Bacon isn't much better but at the same time I'm going to guess that he just didn't have too much to work with.
Jolson does sing a few numbers throughout, which range from good to fair but at the same time these certainly weren't enough to save the picture. SAY IT WITH SONGS is a really poor movie but at the same time it's very much entertaining in a bad way.