If you’re a film historian in any way, you know The Jazz Singer. Widely regarded as the world’s first talkie, this is an important film in cinema lore for many reasons. But is being a good film one of them? In ways, yes; it manages to entertain, so in that it succeeds as a film should, but to what extent is really a personal matter.
For being the first talkie, the film still clings to its roots of silent cinema pretty roughly. The film is really a silent picture with a few synchronized sound bits in between. To call The Jazz Singer a talkie is like calling The Dark Knight a fully IMAX picture because of its few and far between sequences in the format, but to each his own I guess. The film certainly went a long way to promote the advent of sound, so there’s that. The film tells a good story, if rather melodramatic at times, and the whole thing seems both a love letter to jazz singers and a lesson in familial ties and what it means to keep or break them. Even the term “jazz singer” seems a bit stretched when applied to Al Jolson in this film, but the man does an admirable job with what he’s given. Even the blackface portions were well-done and respectable, not stereotypical as you’d expect the term to be thrown at.
While The Jazz Singer is a key film is cinema history, it is also still a musical, so if you’re not a fan of musicals or silent films in general, this will certainly check a few of your annoyance boxes. If you’re more lenient in these areas, as you hopefully are if you’re following along this blog and this list, see this one for the historical value alone, and see if it doesn’t entertain you in the process.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10