Critic Reviews



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Undoubtedly the best thing Vitaphone has ever put on the screen.
It is Mr. Jolson's first picture and as such of great import to the history of the current theatre. In no other way but pictures can his genius be preserved; and in this he is favored with the double preservative of picture and mechanical voice reproduction. The Vitaphone permits him to talk and sing his way through the sentimental mazes of the movie adaptation. He is a good actor; but he is a very great singer of popular songs. In cities where the Vitaphone can be installed and reproduce his voice this picture will eminently repay attendance.
As for its quality as an actual movie, well, The Jazz Singer is hardly great, but it provides solid melodrama and a valuable look at the ethnic stereotypes of early-20th-century entertainment.
By today's standards, THE JAZZ SINGER is mawkish, crudely filmed, and full of schmaltz. Yet it remains fascinating in its historical value, not only for its technical innovation, but because director Alan Crosland took his cameras on location into New York's Jewish ghetto around Hester and Orchard streets and then along the Great White Way of Broadway, showing the colorful, divergent, and now vanished ways of immigrant and show business life.
The Vitaphoned songs and some dialogue have been introduced most adroitly. This in itself is an ambitious move, for in the expression of song the Vitaphone vitalizes the production enormously. The dialogue is not so effective, for it does not always catch the nuances of speech or inflections of the voice so that one is not aware of the mechanical features.
The plot is powerful because it’s so absurdly melodramatic.
You can see what an impact sound must have had in 1927, because it certainly wasn't the movie that made this production a phenomenon...It's ragged and dull until the magical moment when Jolson turns to the camera to announce, “You ain't heard nothin' yet”—a line so loaded with unconscious irony that it still raises a few goose bumps.

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