Starring: Al Jolson, May McAvoy, Warner Oland
Director: Alan Crosland
Running Time: 88 mins
The Jazz Singer is an American film, noted for being the first ever ‘talkie’ in Hollywood history, about a young man who must defy his father, a strong-willed Jewish Cantor, in order to realise his dream of becoming a jazz singer.
Well, it may be one of the most historically significant films of all time, but it’s not actually that good. I appreciate and am near awestruck by the use of sound for the first time in a feature film all the way back in 1927, however this film’s story is never that intriguing, and is extremely predictable throughout.
Let’s start, however, with the fact that this film’s use of sound is amazing. Never before seen, or rather heard, in a Hollywood picture at the time, this is the pioneering picture for everything that has come after it, opening up the doors for a technology that is completely taken for granted nowadays.
Also, it’s not as if being the first talkie was a complete gimmick (although Singin’ In The Rain may have to say otherwise), but the sound is actually an effective tool, seeing as this is a film about singing, how important it can be in someone’s life, and how beautiful it can sound.
Therefore, you’ve got a stream of great jazz songs throughout that make this the definitively first movie musical, which not only make it more entertaining, but add to the overall vibe of the film as something about music.
But before you get too giddy about the fact that this is a ‘talkie’, I must warn you that it’s not. Yes, you can hear the songs, which is a marvel in itself, but the majority of the dialogue is still done with title cards, and still silent, so if you can’t stand that, this film will be a struggle for you to watch.
Regarding the story of this film, it’s not the most entertaining thing of all time. Again, there are some great songs, but the rest of it is an extremely predictable, incredibly simplistic and largely dull affair, and although it doesn’t require much brainpower or historical know-how, it’s not that relaxing or fun to watch.
Overall, this gets a 6.6, because although it is so significant, it’s not actually a great film.