Jack Garner's Plan B: 'The Jazz Singer'

03:17 PM, Jan 08, 2013

Al Jolson in THE JAZZ SINER' - A Warner Bros Production (1927) showing at the Dryden. (PROVIDED BY GEORGE EASTMAN HOSUE)/

As an alternative, critic Jack Garner recommends:

THE JAZZ SINGER. Some movies are desirable because of their pure entertainment value. Some others should be seen — even studied — because of their historic value and technological advances. Of course, some great films fulfill both functions. The original Jazz Singer, from 1927, the first film with a few moments of recorded dialogue and six songs, is in the latter category. The famous movie details the drama of a young Jewish man from New York City’s Lower East Side who disappoints his conservative father, a Jewish cantor, by turning instead to “jazz” singing. The film comes off today as dated and overly sentimental. (And Al Jolson having key scenes in black face doesn’t help.) However, the film still has great value, both for its technological sound breakthroughs and as a recording of the legendary Jolson. The new edition also is in Blu-ray, and it’s hard to imagine a 75-year-old film looking more stunning. More important, it’s a three-disc package with several essential additions — early sound shorts and a feature-length documentary on the coming of sound. Thus, this edition is a virtual history lesson on the subject of sound in the movies.

Director: Alan Crosland.

Cast: Jolson.

Jack’s rating: 8.

New on DVD This week:
Dredd, Archer, Frankenweenie, Midsomer Murders: Set 21, Game Change, Samsara, Smash: Season One, Red Dwarf: X, Dallas: First Season, Doctor Who: Shada, Stolen, Hit & Run, House at the End of the Street.

Next Week:
Taken 2, The Bishop’s Wife, The (original) Man Who Knew Too Much, To Rome with Love, Perry Mason: Eighth Season, How Green Was My Valley.