The Jazz Singer (Three-Disc Deluxe Edition)
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Classic film, great price, shipped promptly. And all the 'swag', the 'lobby cards', and all the background material on the Vitaphone process. Wow, overwhelmed here.Published 1 month ago by Stephen C. Gyetko
A true classic film, I just did not enjoy the fact that it was a silent film except for the songs, which meant I had to read the dialogue. Read morePublished 1 month ago by D Marley
I could not find the way to cancel after I had purchase the movie. This was not the movie I wanted to see....Published 3 months ago by Lourdes
Billed as the first talking picture, 1927's "Jazz Singer" is mostly a silent film with a little talking and singing. Nevertheless, it is a worthy landmark must-see film. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Robert
Beautiful set with the Jazz Singer and many Vitaphone shorts Excellent packaging and information concerning the shorts. Vaudeville acts you'll never see again. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Stephen Fleschler
A great version of a classic film. Friends who did not understand my love of Jolson only needed to see this remaster to join me in my appreciation of on of America's greatest... Read morePublished 8 months ago by J Smith San Francisco
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