NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY National Film Preservation Board (1996)
HONORARY AWARD Academy Awards (1929)
This landmark of modern cinema, the first talking picture, is also a pro-assimilationist story focusing on the conflicts between generations and between the old and new worlds. Al Jolson plays Jakie, a cantor's son who rejects his family's tradition and wish for him to follow in his father's footsteps by heading for Jazz and Broadway.
The film emphasizes Jakie's new world rebellion against the loss of his father's old world values, a topic no less relevant for today's audiences than it was for moviegoers in the 1920s. Cast: Al Jolson, May McAvoy, Warner Oland, Eugenie Besserer, Myrna Loy.
"The combination of the religious heart interest story (based on the play by Samson Raphaelson) and Jolson's singing 'Kol Nidre' in a synagogue while his father is dying and two 'Mammy' lyrics as his mother stands in the wings of the theatre, and later as she sits in the first row, carries abundant power and appeal."
The Jazz Singer
USA, 1927, 90 minutes, B&W
Silent with some sound
Directed by Alan Crosland
Public Exhibition 16mm rental available