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The Jazz Singer (1927)

Directed by Alan Crosland. Cast: Al Jolson, Mary McAvoy, Warner Oland, William Demarest, Eugenie Besserer, Otto Lederer, Josef Rosenblatt. Jakie Rabinowitz is the son of a Jewish cantor. Turning his back on family tradition, Jakie transforms himself into cabaret-entertainer Jack Robin. When Jack comes home to visit his parents, he is warmly greeted by his mother, but is given the cold-shoulder by his father, who feels that Jack is a traitor to his heritage by singing jazz music. On the eve of his biggest show business triumph, Jack receives word that his father is dying. Out of respect, Jack foregoes his opening night to attend Atonement services at the temple and sings the Kol Nidre in his father's place. In motion picture history, this marks the first feature film to utilize synchronous sound. Actor Al Jolson's songs include "Toot, toot, tootsie", "Blue skies", and "Mammy". Special features: Disc 1: Commentary by Ron Hutchinson, founder of The Vitaphone Projects and Nighthawks Bandleader Vince Giordano; vintage Al Jolson short films: "A plantation act," "An intimate dinner in celebration of Warner Bros. Silver Jubilee," "Hollywood handicap," and "A day at Santa Anita" ; radio show adaptation and movie trailer gallery; classic homage cartoon "I love to singa" which features a jazz-singing Owl Jolson. 89 min. ;
"Since its premiere in 1927, many jazz critcs have overlooked The Jazz Singer, America's pioneer talking picture, in the history of American jazz film. Despite its title, the talkie's account of Old World vs. New World tension and Jewish assimilation has little to do with the jazz sound made famous by such artists as Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton. Yet as crtic Krin Gabbard argues, the film's appropriation of the title jazz reflects the cultural understanding of "jazz" during the American Jazz Age. In the 1920s, jazz, referring in general to up-tempo music, represented the emotional release and freedom of a generation striving to break established social conventions. While African American contributions to jazz were largely overlooked in the rise of Paul Whiteman and Al jolson's fame, blackface minstrelsy of the age represented white Americans attempt to ventriloquize blacks associated with supposed freedom of Negro primitivisim. Using jazz to represent Raboniwitz's break from Old World tradition and featuring a finale in blackface minstrelsy, The Jazz Singer (as Gabbard argues) lays the foundation for cultural representations of jazz in American cinema." [http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ASI/musi212/brandi/jazz.html] Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database Awards & Honors National Film Registry Selection