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The Jazz Singer [VHS]

131 customer reviews

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The Jazz Singer [VHS] + The Jolson Story [VHS]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Al Jolson, May McAvoy, Warner Oland, Eugenie Besserer, Otto Lederer
  • Directors: Alan Crosland
  • Writers: Alfred A. Cohn, Jack Jarmuth, Samson Raphaelson
  • Producers: Darryl F. Zanuck
  • Format: Black & White, HiFi Sound, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: MGM (Warner)
  • VHS Release Date: November 4, 1994
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302120594
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,348 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Generally considered the first sound feature, this 1927 film is pretty much silent except for a few lines of dialogue and Al Jolson's songs. The story finds Jolson playing the son of a cantor who wants him to follow in his footsteps, but the singer prefers secular music. Except for its historical value, the film isn't all that interesting, though it is great to get a sense of why people considered Jolson to be a hugely exciting entertainer at the time. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 118 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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44 of 47 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.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By MJB on January 25, 2013
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Let's cut to the chase because it is obvious that all film collectors either need this or already have the DVD -- yes, you DO need to upgrade from the DVD to this new Blu-ray edition. It IS that much better.

All of the errors in the DVD have been corrected. The scratches during "Dirty Hands, Dirty Face" and much of the rest of the Coffee Dan's scene have been eliminated without a trace. The mis-matched synchronization of the entire reel before "Blue Skies" has been fixed. The artificial shaking of the inter-titles to disguise them being free-frames has been steadied. In the extras, they have put in the correct two scenes from "Gold Diggers Of Broadway" -- we actually see Nick Lucas sing in 2-strip Technicolor "Tip-Toe Through the Tulips" this time. As an additional bonus they have added two shorts which have cameo appearances by Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler at Santa Anita Raceway. Most of the printed extras from the DVD set are in the book except for most of the postcards, but they have added some great portraits, bios, and an illustrated essay on the earlier film sound systems.

Only disc one is Blu-ray. Discs two and three are still DVD, and actually have the same labels and catalog number as the originals -- so don't mix them up with your originals or else you'll lose Nick Lucas. They are still standard definition, but the first disc is High Defination and the image sparkles! The DVD was good, but the Blu-ray image will blow you away. It probably looks better than original nitrate prints looked in 1927. I'll go so far as to say that it proves that you DO need to buy that Blu-ray player if you haven't yet.

The aforementioned scratches on the DVD were always a puzzle to me. They were continuous vertical scratches that often hit right on Jolson's face.
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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
LUCKY BOY
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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