“The Jolson Story” opening review

1 01 2013

Liberty, October 19, 1946

A perfect tribute to Al Jolson, this movie is as schmaltzy, spirited, and unforgettable as the singer himself. It affectionately traces Jolson’s tune-packed, knee-bending fifty years in show business.

With Larry Parks catching the Mammy singer’s eye-rolling exuberance in a bang-up impersonation, the film highlights in Technicolor such Jolson lore as his bouncy blackface routines, his one-man shows at Broadway’s Winter Garden, and his pioneering in talking pictures. Read the rest of this entry »

Jolson’s last starring role

6 01 2012
Busby Berkeley directing  a scene with Sybil Jason

Busby Berkeley directing a scene with Sybil Jason

Excerpt from : Harold Arlen: Rhythm, Rainbows, and Blues by Edward Jablonski (1998)

Around the same time Arlen took his camera to a location shoot of “The Singing Kid” in nearby Franklin Canyon on a misty, coolish morning. Anya, not in this film, wore a heavy coat with a stylish fluffy white fur collar. Her companion was equally modish in an overcoat and scarf, no hat. He carried a pipe and sported a neat mustache. The proletarian Harburg came simply in slacks, sweater, and sport jacket. They waited for the filming, under the director William Keighley, to begin, comfortably seated on a pier near a small lake; there was a small upright piano on the pier.

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“Rose of Washington Square”

25 03 2011


Twentieth Century-Fox Strolls Down Melody Lane in ‘Rose of Washington Square,’ at the Roxy

New York Times
By Frank Nugent
Published: May 6, 1939

Twentieth Century-Fox’s latest tour down Melody Lane has come to the Roxy under the blushing title “Rose of Washington Square,” the Rose being neither Al Jolson nor Tyrone Power (as we had feared), but Alice Faye, who flowers lushly in the cabarets and flounces of the post-war years. Obviously designed as a thematic sequel to “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” the picture makes much the same capital of its sentimentally evocative score, its nostalgic reminders of the speakeasy era, its delicate reminder that the Nineteen Twenties already have become a “costume period.” Read the rest of this entry »

The significance of “The Jazz Singer.”

1 09 2010

Kol Nidre - Barrios
excerpt from:  A Song in the Dark: the Birth of the Musical Film
by Richard Barrios (1995)

The most detectable asset of The Jazz Singer is the conviction put into it – Warners’ and Alan Crosland’s belief in the project and Jolson’s belief in his powers as a musical entertainer. Whether the material was worthy of belief is another issue; what matters is that this story carried a force that more conventional screen fare lacked. Jewish themes were not uncommon in 1920s cinema, not only trivia of the Private Izzy Murphy/Kosher Kitty Kelly variety but sensitively considered dramas such as Humoresque (1920) and His People (1926). Read the rest of this entry »

“The Jazz Singer” Opening review

26 02 2010

The Jazz Singer movie premier

New York Times
October 7, 1927


Published: October 7, 1927. In a story that is very much like that of his own life, Al Jolson at Warners’ Theatre last night made his screen début in the picturization of Samson Raphaelson’s play “The Jazz Singer,” and through the interpolation of the Vitaphone and the audience had the rare opportunity of hearing Mr. Jolson sing several of his own songs and also render most effectively the Jewish hymn “Kol Nidre.”

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