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The Jazz Singer (80th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (1927)

Cast: Al Jolson, Al Jolson, May McAvoy, more...
Director: Alan Crosland, Alan Crosland
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre: Classics, Classic Drama, Musicals
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

Synopses
The Jazz Singer (80th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (Disc 1: The Movie) (1927)
On the verge of receivership in 1926, Warner Bros. studio decides to risk its future by investing in the Vitaphone sound system. Warners' first Vitaphone release, Don Juan, was a silent film accompanied by music and sound effects. The studio took the Vitaphone process one step farther in its 1927 adaptation of the Samson Raphaelson Broadway hit The Jazz Singer, incorporating vocal musical numbers in what was essentially a non-talking film. Al Jolson stars as Jakie Rabinowitz, the son of Jewish cantor Warner Oland. 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 (Eugenie Besserer), but is cold-shouldered by his father, who feels that Jack is a traitor to his heritage by singing jazz music. Several subsequent opportunities for a reconciliation are muffed by the stubborn Jack and his equally stubborn father. 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 sing the Kol Nidre in his father's place. Through a superimposed image, we are assured that the spirit of Jack's father has at long last forgiven his son. Only twenty minutes or so of Jazz Singer is in any way a "talkie;" all of the Vitaphone sequences are built around Jolson's musical numbers. What thrilled the opening night crowds attending Jazz Singer were not so much the songs themselves but Jolson's adlibbed comments, notably in the scene where he sings "Blue Skies" to his mother. Previous short-subject experiments with sound had failed because the on-screen talent had come off stilted and unnatural; but when Jolson began chattering away in a naturalistic, conversational fashion, the delighted audiences suddenly realized that talking pictures did indeed have the capacity to entertain. Despite its many shortcomings (the storyline goes beyond mawkish, while Jolson's acting in the silent scenes is downright amateurish), The Jazz Singer was a box-office success the like of which no one had previously witnessed. The film did turn-away business for months, propelling Warner Bros. from a shoestring operation into Hollywood's leading film factory. Proof that The Jazz Singer is best viewed within its historical context is provided by the 1953 and 1980 remakes, both interminable wallows in sentimental goo. Worse still, neither one of those films had Al Jolson--who, in spite of his inadequacies as an actor, was inarguably the greatest musical entertainer of his era. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

The Jazz Singer (80th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (Disc 2: The Early Sound Era) (1927)
Disc 2: The Early Sound Era
  • All-new feature-length documentary The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk
  • Two rarely-seen Technicolor excerpts from Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929 WB film, most of which is considered lost)
  • Studio shorts celebrating the early sound era: Finding His Voice (1929 Western Electric animated promotional short, produced by Max Fleischer), The Voice That Thrilled The World (Warner Bros. short about sound), Okay for Sound (1946 WB short celebrating the 20th anniversary of Vitaphone), When Talkies Were Young (1955 WB short looking back at the early talkies), The Voice from the Screen (1926 WB 'demonstration' film explores the Vitaphone technology and, looks at the making of a Vitaphone short)


    The Jazz Singer (80th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (Disc 3: Vitaphone Shorts) (1927)
    In the 1920's Warner Bros. began producing a series of short films which utilized the Vitaphone process. These films ran the gamut from musical theater legends and vaudeville acts, to dramatic vignettes and classical music performances from the most prestigious artists of the era. Most of these were shorts considered lost for decades, until a consortium of archivists and historians joined forces with a goal to restore these magnificent time capsules of entertainment history. Up until now, contemporary audiences have only been able to see these shorts via rare retrospective showings in a few large cities, or through the limited release of a restored handful of the earliest subjects, which were part of a 1996 laserdisc set. This new collection will finally make these amazing rarities available to the thousands of film fans awaiting their DVD debut.

    - Over 3 1/2 hours worth of rare, historic Vitaphone comedy and music shorts

  • GreenCine Member Ratings

    The Jazz Singer (80th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (Disc 1: The Movie) (1927)
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    6.38 (8 votes)
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    The Jazz Singer (80th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (Disc 2: The Early Sound Era) (1927)
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    6.60 (5 votes)
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    The Jazz Singer (80th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (Disc 3: Vitaphone Shorts) (1927)
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    5.50 (4 votes)
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