Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1927. Warner Bros.. Screenplay by Alfred A. Cohn, titles by Jack Jarmuth, from the play by Samson Raphaelson, based on his short story The Day Of Atonement. Cinematography by Hal Mohr. Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. Music by Louis Silvers. Film Editing by Harold McCord.
Monumental in its day, this film now seems like nothing but pure, unadulterated corn. Al Jolson is peppy as a Jewish boy who is expected by his parents to take over his father’s job as head cantor in their synagogue, but cannot see himself doing the job thanks to his private little vice: HE LOVES TO SING JAZZ! Gotta love it when the parents react to his admission as if he had just announced a penchant for bestiality. The importance of the film is that although it is mostly silent, sections of it were recorded with synchronized sound, something never done before on a feature film. For this incredible contribution to the world of cinema, it definitely deserves to be remembered, but watching it you’ll never be able to wrap your head around the cheesiness of the performances or the story. Jolson sings many of his best remembered classics, including “Mammie” (in very sensitive and PC blackface) and “Toot, Toot, Toosie Goodbye”. Remade even more abysmally in the fifties with Danny Thomas, and in the seventies with Neil Diamond.
Academy Award: Special Award, to Warner Bros.
Nominations: Best Writing Adaptation; Best Engineering Effects