Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Jazz Singer
The Jazz Singer is a 1927 U.S. movie notable for being the first 'talking motion picture' to be widely commercially distributed. Released by Warner Bros., it was directed by Alan Crosland and starred Al Jolson, who performed two songs in blackface.
The stage production of the show had been a hit on Broadway in 1925 with George Jessel in the lead role. When Warner Brothers refused to meet Jessel's salary demands, Jessel turned the part down and Warner Brothers chose Jolson for the role. The movie opened on October 6, 1927 and was a sensational box-office hit, proving to Hollywood (and to the world) that "talkies" were profitable.
The film opened the door to the evolution of sound film and signaled the end of the era of the silent film. The movie was the first of a series of "talkies" starring Jolson; other films in the series included The Singing Fool (1928), Say It With Songs (1929), and Mammy (1930).
- Al Jolson : Jakie Rabinowitz (Jack Robin)
- May McAvoy : Mary Dale
- Warner Oland : Cantor Rabinowitz
- Eugenie Besserer : Sara Rabinowitz
- Otto Lederer : Moisha Yudelson
- Richard Tucker : Harry Lee
Up-and-coming cast member:
- Myrna Loy : Chorus girl
- Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay - Alfred A. Cohn
Despite becoming famous for introducing sound, the movie contains only a few minutes' worth of actual singing and dialogue. Jolson sings the famous standard "Mammy" twice during the film, with a couple of lines of dialogue. The rest of the film's soundtrack is instrumental musical accompaniment, with most of the dialogue presented through the standard caption cards prevalent in silent movies of the era. The song was enough, however, to create a sensation among moviegoing audiences of the day and prompt an immediate revolution in the Hollywood movie industry.
The movie is one of those selected for preservation by the American National Film Registry as culturally significant.
- Jack Robin (Al Jolson): "Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothin' yet! Wait a minute, I tell ya! You ain't heard nothin'! You wanna hear 'Toot, Toot, Tootsie'? All right, hold on, hold on..."
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