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Center stage, singing his heart out - that's how fans love Al Jolson. And that's what they get in Mammy. It's an ideal showcase for the master showman, giving full rein to Jolson's unique talents in a melodramatic story of a lovelorn minstrel man innocently involved in murderous intrigue. But, as always with Jolson, the star is the story. Here he gets top support from Irving Berlin's jazzy-melodious score, including the jaunty Let Me Sing and I'm Happy. The film's most memorable sequences feature Jolson in full-scale recreations of a genuine minstrel show, complete with interlocutor-end man gags, dancers, tambourine chorus, tunes aplenty and a daffy mock-opera version of Yes, We Have No Bananas.
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Signed, Ray 3D Zone
By 1930, "talkies" were now..."movies". Disk synchronization was over and sound was balanced. But beside these positives, we have the miraculous event of a great singer and crowd pleaser performing live. It appears that by the late '30s, actors would sing to a track of themselves.. or whoever was dubbing for them.
This was Jolson's first film since THE JAZZ SINGER to feature an interesting storyline, thogh once again Al plays the gifted artist who has forsaken the home life for the road life; the man who finds such joy in his work that he has yet to laern adult social skills, constantly involving himself in complicated situations, such as a rocky relationship between his pal and the girl with whom he has a crush -his pal's girl, who has her own problems, as daughter of the Troupe Manager.
The story is fascinating as history of an old show business tradition, the Minstrel Show, which died out not long after this movie was shot - the ethnic stereotyping might an issue with viewers unfamiliar with a period in American History when African - American society was treated as separate from the mainstream; when the represented ethnicity could not attend a show depicting their "Southern" roots.
So the movie, seen purely as drama, and not as a musical experience with classics like "Let Me Sing And I'm Happy", will remain a curiosity even for film students.
All the songs are wonderful - naturally the Jolson sequences stand out: two lesser-known sentimental ballad, "(Across The Breakfast Table) Looking At You" and "To My Mammy" (with some lyrics forecasting "How Deep Is The Ocean"); plus two uptempo novelties, "Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday On Saturday Night" and "Why Do They All Take the Night Boat To Albany?", the later in two-tone Technicolor.
I disagree about Jolson's "bad acting"..yes, he's pretty bad in some scenes, but more often he's good to excellent. It's a shame that documnetors use a particular scene from this movie in which Al intentionally overacts (in character) as tries to set up a scenario with Lois Moran (who, incidentally delivers an Oscar-worthy performance) to make pal Westy jealous. A while later later, Jolson does just fine, as he drunkenly scolds the "Interlocutor" who showed no jealousy whatsoever.
This 1930 effort shows Hollywood as its' best...and also reveals what was very wrong with it. And wrong with society as a whole.