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The Jazz Singer (Three-Disc Deluxe Edition)

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Three-Disc Deluxe Edition
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$29.96 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 8 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Jazz Singer, The: Deluxe Edition (DVD)


It's one of the most famous titles in film history, and everybody knows why: in a handful of sequences in The Jazz Singer, sound and image are excitingly synchronized. By 1927, some short subjects had already been "talkies," and a few features had synchronized music, but The Jazz Singer gets the prize as the breakthrough. Because the film is largely without dialogue, you can--even watching the film today--almost palpably sense the shift in movie epochs, as cinema takes an evolutionary leap from one form to the next. The movie itself, based on a successful Broadway show by Samson Raphaelson, is strictly melodrama of an ancient kind. Young Jakie Rabinowitz is expected to follow in the long line of family Cantors, but his heart yearns to sing "Toot Toot, Tootsie" instead of "Kol Nidre." Al Jolson plays Jakie (later Jack Robin of footlights fame), and you get a taste of why he was widely considered the greatest entertainer of his time; watch him with a tearjerker such as "Dirty Hands, Dirty Face" and you'll see the skillful, completely irony-free manipulations of a master storyteller. Equally fun is Jolson's non-singing patter--in fact, this is where you get the thrill of talking pictures, more so than the songs. "You ain't heard nuthin' yet," he burbles, and it's hard not to catch the excitement.

Jolson's numbers include his blackface act, a longstanding tradition of minstrel shows and music halls, and an unavoidable source of awkwardness for later viewers (see The Savages for an amusing account of the embarrassment this can cause). Blackface is a bizarre show business reality, and it's part of the movie, so some historical context is required.

Warner Bros. rightly considers The Jazz Singer a key moment in the studio's history, and this three-disc DVD package gives the deluxe treatment. The film itself is beautifully restored, and reproductions of original supporting materials (souvenir program, stills, ads) are fun. A booklet on early Vitaphone shorts clearly predates The Jazz Singer, for Jolson is mentioned only as a star of Vitaphone shorts, and George Jessel is tabbed as the future star of The Jazz Singer (he'd played Jakie on Broadway). A 90-minute documentary gives a fine account of how the Vitaphone system worked, and how other systems actually became the industry standard.

Supplemental short films are a true treasure trove. A Plantation Act is more Jolson blackface, Hollywood Handicap a studio short comedy directed by Buster Keaton, and I Love to Singa a hilarious 1936 Tex Avery cartoon--a spoof of The Jazz Singer starring a bird named Owl Jolson. A flabbergasting collection of Vitagraph shorts--over four hours' worth--makes up disc 3 of this set: utterly weird and wonderful performances by some of the strangest acts ever to kill vaudeville. There are a few names here: George Burns and Gracie Allen in a short called Lambchops, the Foy Family doing wacky stage business. But the cornball timed jokes of Shaw & Lee, the saucy songs of Trixie Friganza, not to mention "The Wizard of the Mandolin," Bernardo De Pace--these are gems, folks. Anyone with a taste for showbiz past will love them. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Disc 1: The Movie
  • All-new feature digital transfer and immaculately refurbished soundtrack from restored picture elements and original Vitaphone-Sound-on-Disc recordings
  • Commentary by film historians Ron Hutchinson and Vince Giordano
  • Collection of rare cartoons and shorts: I Love to Sing (a classic 1936 WB parody cartoon directed by Tex Avery), Hollywood Handicap (classic M-G-M short with Al Jolson appearance), A Day at Santa Anita (classic Technicolor Warner Bros. short with Al Jolson & Ruby Keeler cameo appearance), Al Jolson in 'A Plantation Act' (1926 Vitaphone short made a year prior to The Jazz Singer), An Intimate Dinner in Celebration of Warner Bros. Silver Jubilee
  • 1947 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast starring Al Jolson (audio only)
  • Al Jolson Trailer Gallery
  • 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)
  • Disc 3: Vitaphone Shorts
  • Over 3 1/2 hours worth of rare, historic Vitaphone comedy and music shorts: Elsie Janis in a Vaudeville Act: "Behind the Lines", Bernado Depace: "Wizard of the Mandolin", Van and Schneck: "The Pennant Winning Battery of Songland", Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields, Hazel Green and Company,  The Night Court,  The Police Quartette, Ray Mayer & Edith Evans: "When East Meets West", Adele Rowland: "Stories in Song", Stoll, Flynn and Company: "The Jazzmania Quintet", The Ingenues in "The Band Beautiful", The Foy Family in "Chips off the Old Block",Dick Rich and His Melodious Monarchs, Gus Arnheim and His Ambassador,[Shaw and Lee: "The Beau Brummels",Larry Ceballos' Roof Garden Revue, Trixie Friganza in "My Bag O' Tricks", Green's Twentieth Century Faydetts,Sol Violinsky: "The Eccentric Entertainer", Ethel Sinclair and Marge La Marr in "At the Seashore", Paul Tremaine and His Aristocrats, Baby Rose Marie: "The Child Wonder", Burns & Allen in "Lambchops", Joe Frisco in "The Happy Hottentots"
  • Collector's Edition bonuses:
  • Rarely seen behind-the-scenes photo cards
  • Original release lobby card reproductions
  • Original release souvenir program book reproduction
  • Booklet with vintage document reproductions and DVD features guide
  • Reproduction of post-premiere telegram from Al Jolson to Jack L. Warner

Product Details

  • Actors: Al Jolson
  • Directors: Alan Crosland
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French, English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 16, 2007
  • Run Time: 265 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JKSC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,743 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Jazz Singer (Three-Disc Deluxe Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

One of the Greatest Films ever made!!
The extras are wonderful, including Jolson's 1926 short--a year before "The Jazz Singer" containing three great Jolson tunes.
Edward B. Greenbaum
The painstaking effort put forth to restore this 1926 piece of film history is amazing.
Painting The Clouds

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Joel L. Gandelman VINE VOICE on August 31, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Almost immediately after Warner Bros' huge financial gamble premiered in Oct 1927, other studios' concerned bigwigs frantically ordered their studios to immediately equip themselves to do sound movies. New careers were made -- and shattered -- overnight. If you haven't seen The Jazz Singer, considered the first "talking movie" (even though there actually were some earlier sporadic experiments) this is a video worth not only seeing but OWNING for several reasons: a)You see Al Jolson at his height. He was one of the first half of the 20th century's biggest stars and some of his stage charisma comes through in this movie's songs. Most of the flick is actually silent except for the songs. Originally he was only supposed to sing, but he ad libbed a few lines and the response was absolutely electric when audiences heard and saw him say these few words on the screen. b)The story's value: a Jewish religious leader's son, torn between tradition (using his voice for religion and following in his dad's footsteps) or to please the masses (as a jazz singer in vaudeville). Follow family tradition or national culture? c)The historical show biz value: the Warner brothers put everything they on the line in doing this flick and if it had failed sound movies would have been set back about 10 years (or more) -- and maybe Bugs Bunny wouldn't have been invented. d)Technical show biz value: The Warners used Vitaphone, which was basically sound on disks synchronized to the film's action. You also get a nice zippy period musical score throughout the movie. f)American history historical value: Note long shots of the Jewish ghetto. They were actual shots of a New York street taken through a window -- NOT extras on a movie set.Read more ›
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 21, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In 1926 Sam Warner of the Warner Brothers decided to invest in the Vitaphone sound system. Don Juan was their first Vitaphone film, but it only contained music and sound effects. In 1927 Warner adapted the Samson Raphaelson Broadway hit The Jazz Singer into a movie and, this time, they incorporated vocal musical numbers in what was still a silent film for all but twenty minutes. Contrary to popular belief, audiences had heard music on film before, and they had heard dialogue on film before. What they had not heard or seen before were either of these things being particularly entertaining. When Jolson sings "Blue Skies" to his mother while adlibbing humorous comments, it all came across as so completely natural that people suddenly realized that sound on film could be entertaining and not just some novelty act. Despite its many shortcomings, including the predictable storyline, The Jazz Singer was a box-office success and a cinema milestone.

This new 80th Anniversary Edition of the Jazz Singer due in October 2007 contains three discs of extras and appears to be just as much a tribute to the birth of the talking picture as a fully digitized release of the Jazz Singer. Disc 1 is dedicated to the film itself, and includes a commentary track. "A Plantation Act" is also included. This is a 1926 Vitaphone short also starring Jolson. Disc 2 is dedicated to the silent to sound transition and includes a documentary on this subject along with shorter featurettes. The real jewel in the crown of this disc is the excerpt from "The Gold Diggers of Broadway". That was the top-grossing picture of 1929 and is an example of a very good all-Technicolor musical of the pre-Depression era. Unfortunately, it was considered lost for years and only a little over two reels (about 20 minutes) survive.
Read more ›
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By J. Hutchinson on August 5, 2007
Format: DVD
First, ignore the old comments in this string that refer to the old VHS release and have nothing to do with this truly awesome new 3 DVD set. The content is awesome. Even if you have no interest in the feature (which has been completely restored with sound direct from origina discs and a new print). The fact this set contains 26 early, never on DVD (most never on video) Vitaphone vaudeville and music shorts from 1926-30, a new feature length documentary on the coming of sound, a dozen more shorts, and loads more extras ---- for less than $30 on Amazon --- makes this a must have for any film buff.

Recognize that NO other studio is releasing this kind of early talkie material, nor shorts. WHV is to be congratulated for assembling a first class package in a first class way. Please spread the word on this set. If it does well, perhaps more early stuff will emerge from the vaults!

Producer George Feltenstein deserves special recogition for sticking his neck out and producing a stellar set. Thanks!
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jery Tillotson on February 28, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
This is one of my all-time favorite movies. I watch it at least once a month and each time I see it, there's something fresh to savor. Al Jolson is just one of the major attractions of this part-talkie, part-silent. You've got this powerful, knock-out film score that enhances tremendously the intense emotion of this drama. I don't know if this score was the one first heard by movie-goers in l927 but if it was, one can only imagine the extraordinary impact it had, along with that new-fangled invention called "Talkies." Throughout this gripping drama, the musical score soars and throbs, nearly sobbing and then laughing with each scene. Eugenie Besserer is unforgettable as the Jewish mother who never gives up loving her Jazz Singer. Besserer specialized in playing mothers during the silent era. As far as I can tell, she never appeared in the talkies so perhaps her voice didn't measure up. You hear just hints of it when Jolson is singing "Blue Skies" to her. In his memoirs, he said that Besserer helped him out tremendously in this--his first full length film. When he felt exhausted and despaired, Besserer came and cheered him up. I get so terribly sick of these politically correct reviewers who harp and whine about the scenes of Jolson wearing black face. This was l927, you idiots! Minstrel Shows and black face were an accepted theatrical institution during this era. It was meant as homage to the great black musicians and performers and was never intended to be a slap in the face to these artists. So view this classic in the framework of the time it was made. This movie can be maddening because just when you're enraptured by hearing the actual voice of Al Jolson, then the sound stops and the music begins again. This is a fascinating journey back into time, when singing jazz was the hottest thing to do in the Jazz Age!
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JAZZ SINGER set error
I did not have the skipping problem but I was very unhappy that the "Tip Toe Through The Tulips" number, which exists in wonderful shape (occasionally even used as a "filler" on TCM, with no onscreeen ID as I recall!), is advertised but missing in action (thanks for... Read More
Dec 3, 2007 by TeeBee |  See all 6 posts
your telling me---i would love to see it and hear him sing his theme song---my mother's eyes.
Sep 17, 2007 by mphoto |  See all 3 posts
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The Jazz Singer (Three-Disc Deluxe Edition)
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