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The Jazz Singer [VHS] (1927)

Al Jolson , May McAvoy , Alan Crosland  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

The Jazz Singer [VHS] + The Jolson Story [VHS] + Jolson Sings Again [VHS]
Price for all three: $26.85

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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 (116 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302120594
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #347,153 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
109 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The movie that forever changed Hollywood: 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
5.0 out of 5 stars 80th Anniversary Edition features announced 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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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars God Bless Warner Home Video! 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Entertainment! 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I hoped
If not for historically value, I would put the movie itself at around 1 star. I like old movies and I've seen some pretty good ones. This is... well... Read more
Published 2 months ago by J. G. Morales
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
It was not what I expected!
Published 2 months ago by john s. johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars found quite interesting despite transition from silent to talkies
Product & service just gr8.
Just a little rough going through the transition from silent to talkie. Read more
Published 3 months ago by 'Itzy'
5.0 out of 5 stars It showed great pictures of the first talking movie
The pictures showed Jolson what he really liked but not what his real wifes looked like is there any pictures of them around would like to see what they looked like..
Published 4 months ago by charlotte brumbelow
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Blu-ray of a Movie Milestone
My wife and I recently watched the Jazz Singer for the very first time on the wonderful 3-disc blu-ray set from Warner Brothers. It was a home-run for us! Read more
Published 4 months ago by Charlie
2.0 out of 5 stars Better To Be Lucky Than To Be Good
I am not saying Jolson was without talent but he darn sure had a good publicity agent. This was not much of the first "anything". Read more
Published 11 months ago by That's Life
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jazz Signer sings to children
It is a first rate movie to introduce children to the start of talking pictures. The children loved the songs while asking why during the whole movie. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Joseph M Gracia
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jazz Singer and the Sound Revolution
In 1927 Warner Brothers Studios and Al Jolson ushered in the era of sound films with The Jazz Singer, sparking a revolution in the movies unlike anything before or since. Read more
Published 11 months ago by H. Snyder
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jazz Singer! The First! The Original!
The Original first "taliking picture"! It's a classic just because of that. That's why I've got it. It's also on the AFI's Top 100 films of all-time lists.
Published 12 months ago by Glenn R. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure trove of early sound...
...which may or may not be a good thing!

NOTE: This review refers to WB's 2007 3-DVD boxed set, which is the only one to buy. Read more
Published 13 months ago by T. Casey
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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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