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10/10
The most enthralling musical biography of all time - "you ain't heard nothin' yet!"
clive-3818 November 2000
"The Jolson Story" must be one of the most outstanding musical biographies to ever come out of Hollywood with a multitude of unforgettable popular songs, luxuriant colour photography, and a noteworthy performance by Larry Parks in his most accomplished role as Al Jolson. The stunning Evelyn Keyes sparkled as Julie Benson and the eminent William Demarest was entertainer Steve Martin (later Jolson's manager). "Give that boy a spotlight!!". Ludwig Donath and Tamara Shayne were an inspired choice as Jolson's parents: "Papa, Asa isn't Asa any more!". Bill Goodwin was Jolson's close friend and singer Tom Baron (later theatrical impresario) and talented Scotty Beckett gave an appealing performance playing Jolson as a boy. William Demarest had also appeared with Al Jolson years earlier in "The Jazz Singer" (1927) so it is intriguing to speculate whether they reminisced about that during the production of "The Jolson Story". William Demarest received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his part in "The Jolson Story" but was beaten by Harold Russell for "The Best Years of Our Lives". Larry Parks was also nominated (as Best Actor) but lost to Fredric March (again for "The Best Years of Our Lives"). As some small consolation the film did win Oscars for the Best Musical Score and the Best Sound Recording. (For some obscure reason it wasn't even nominated for the best picture award much to my surprise).

The film has an absorbing storyline even though it is not entirely accurate and it does take some liberties with the facts. Jolson's mother died when he was eight years old yet in the film she lives on to see him become a big success on Broadway. Many people who played active parts in Jolson's real life story did not even get a mention in the film version. His long time manager Louis Epstein, his dresser/valet Frank Holmes and his brother Harry were all eliminated from the plot! The character Steve Martin played by William Demarest did not actually exist and it has been suggested that this role was probably a composite of the three men referred to above plus several other people. Jolson's first two wives were not even mentioned and Ruby Keeler (Jolson's third wife) would not allow her name to be used in the picture so ravishing Evelyn Keyes had to play the fictitious Julie Benson instead. Ziegfeld: "This is Julie Benson - the star of my next production "Show Girl"." Jolson: "Mr Ziegfeld you will please not advertise on my time!".

Harry Cohn (the notorious head of Columbia Pictures) is to be congratulated for going ahead with this film when all the other major studios had turned it down. Even Warner Bros. (for whom Jolson had starred in several films) were not interested. Filming was started on a small budget and in black and white. However, when Harry Cohn saw the early rushes he decided to film in colour and make "The Jolson Story" a major prestigious production. This certainly paid off for him in a big way as the film became one of Columbia Pictures top money earners. Jolson desperately wanted to play the leading role himself and was opposed to another actor portraying his life. Unfortunately at that stage in his career he was obviously too old (he was 60) but the studio could not have found anyone better than the young Larry Parks (31) who perfectly captured the Jolson style and threw himself into the part with relish. However, Jolson did manage to play himself in one scene singing "Swanee" on the Winter Garden runway (all filmed in longshot with no close-ups). When I saw "The Jolson Story" for the first time it had a major impact on my life and for weeks afterwards I was quoting lines from the film that had stuck in my mind such as these from Jolson to Julie Benson: "Broadway, ha, what a street, you know something baby - it belongs to me. You know something else, if you want it, I'll give it to you!"

The musical numbers were absolutely magnificent and with popular songs like "California Here I Come", "You Made Me Love You", "Toot Toot Tootsie", "April Showers", "Robert E. Lee", "Liza", "Mammy", "Liza", "About a Quarter to Nine", "I'm Sitting on Top of the World" and "Rockabye Your Baby" how could it miss! If there is one film I could take to a desert island it would have to be "The Jolson Story" as I never tire of seeing repeated showings of this timeless classic. As Jolson himself would have said: "Settle back folks, you ain't heard nothin' yet!" (and he would be right about that). 10/10. Clive Roberts.
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9/10
JOLSON: The Man, The Legend and His Songs
lugonian25 July 2003
THE JOLSON STORY (Columbia, 1946), directed by Alfred E. Green, is a nostalgic tribute to the "world's greatest entertainer," Al Jolson, the man who loved to sing, as portrayed by Larry Parks, covering his life and career from the turn of the century to about 1940.

This Technicolor production opens in Washington, DC, at the turn of the century where a young teenage boy named Asa Yoelson (Scotty Beckett) and his girlfriend, Ann Murray (Ann E. Todd) are seated in the audience at Kernan's Burlesque House watching Steve Martin (William Demarest) doing his comedy act. He asks for the audience to sing along as he plays his cello, but it is Asa who's the only one brave enough to stand up and start singing. Amazed by this young lad's natural talent, Martin locates Asa's home asking permission of his parents, Cantor and Mrs. Yoelson (Ludwig Donath and Tamara Shayne) to have him as part of his act. Papa Yoelson says no to the idea, and feels that the only place where his son should be singing is not in a theater, but in a Synagogue. Respecting the Cantor's wishes, Martin leaves for his tour. However, Asa leaves home, hopping on a freight car to find Martin, ending up in the residence of a Catholic Church run by a Father McGee (Ernest Cossart). Learning about the boy's background and purpose, the priest sends for both Steve and the Yoelsons, who arrive to find Asa singing in the choir. Not wanting Asa to be constantly running away from home, Mama Yoelson's convinces Papa to have their boy pursue his dream. Years pass. The act of Martin and Yoelson prove successful. Because Asa, now Al Jolson, wants to advance himself, it is Steve who breaks up the act by sending him over to perform in Lew Dockstader's (John Alexander) minstrels. With Steve's help once more, he arranges for Al to start his long and successful career at the Winter Garden on Broadway, with former "blackface" singer and friend, Tom Baron (Bill Goodwin) acting as manager. Jolson, who has never forgotten Steve, hires him as his agent. Now the biggest name in show business, Al Jolson's career takes a turn to success, starring in "the first talking picture," THE JAZZ SINGER, his courtship with Florenz Ziegfeld's (Eddie Kane) latest attraction, Julie Benson (Evelyn Keyes), star of the musical show, LIZA, their marriage, screen careers and finally retirement to the country. Problems arise as Julie learns she's competing with a full-time husband who would rather be a full-time entertainer.

The success of THE JOLSON STORY may not necessarily rely on the plot or its leading stars, but mainly the songs long associated with Al Jolson throughout his years in show business. The songs used for this production include: "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy," "On the Banks of the Wabash," "The Sabbath Prayer" (traditional Jewish prayer); Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria," "When You Were Sweet Sixteen," "After the Ball," "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," "Goodbye, My Blue Belle," "Ma Blushin' Rosie," "I Want a Girl, Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad," "Mammy," "I'm Sitting on Top of the World," "You Made Me Love You," "Swanee," "Toot-Toot Tootsie, Goodbye," "The Spaniard Who Blightened My Life," "April Showers," "California, Here I Come," "Liza," "There's a Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder," "Latin from Manhattan," "Avalon," "About a Quarter to Nine," "The Anniversary Song," "Waiting For the Robert E. Lee," "Rockabye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody," and "April Showers." Trivia: The "Swanee" number is actually performed by the real Al Jolson (in long shot), not Larry Parks.

As a musical, THE JOLSON STORY is grand entertainment. As a biography, it plays too much with the facts, adding inaccuracies to the screenplay. For example, a scene where preview audiences attend THE JAZZ SINGER (1927), hearing Jolson singing "There's a Rainbow Round My Shoulder," that was actually introduced in his second movie, THE SINGING FOOL (1928). Or one where Julie Benson (based on Ruby Keeler) in her movie debut, 42nd STREET (1933) performing a dance number, "Latin From Manhattan," that was really introduced in her latter musical, GO INTO YOUR DANCE (1935). One fact the writers got right is that Jolson and Benson (a/k/a Keeler) collaborated on screen in GO INTO YOUR DANCE, and the number, "About a Quarter to Nine," that accompanies the film, is true to life. Other titles involving Benson's career, SHIPMATES FOREVER, DAMES and GOLD DIGGERS, are used in the montage, but not presented in the order of their release. The costumes and hairstyles acquired by Evelyn Keyes and other actresses are strictly 1946 modern, not fitting into the period for which it is set. The same can be said for the orchestration, sounding more like the Big-Band-era than 1920s or 30s. Larry Park's lip sync recording of Jolson's voice is deeper and softer than the recording of decades ago. Parks, a Columbia contract player since 1941, earned him an Academy Award nomination. So successful was THE JOLSON STORY that Al Jolson, then a forgotten entertainer, was rediscovered again, winning the admiration and charm of a new and younger audience.THE JOLSON STORY, as it stands, fully deserves its place in motion picture history as one of the finest and most entertaining bio-pics ever produced.

Thanks to cable television's Turner Classic Movies, where THE JOLSON STORY premiered November 13, 2006, the Jolson legend can be seen and rediscovered again, along with the original Al Jolson musicals produced at Warner Brothers period (1927-1936), especially his best known and historical film, THE JAZZ SINGER. THE JOLSON STORY, available on video cassette and DVD formats, formerly presented on the Disney Channel in the mid 1990s, and occasionally on other commercial free cable channels, is pleasing both to the eye as well as to the ear. (****)
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10/10
They Don't Get Any Better Than This
Casablanca378427 December 2005
I could sit and listen to Jolson music endlessly. First of all,he had to be the originator of soul music, sung right from the heart. We heard what he felt and then felt what he felt. Secondly,he was the only singer I ever heard whose voice sounded like a trumpet. Perfect pitch, clear,crisp and resounding. Hence, we put together those two attributes, add his showmanship, charm and charisma and we end up with the greatest single entertainer in the history of American show business. Larry Parks is truly astounding and gives a performance, including perfect lip synching, that should have earned him the Oscar. Politics came first, apparently.

The film, even with its occasional flaws, was amazingly entertaining. From the first scene to when his Julie Benson walks out by realizing that she could have never taken the music out of Jolson and vice versa,the entire production was pure hypnotic joy. Unbeatable music, warmth, tenderness and humility run wild. A superb feast for the ears and eyes. A never-to-be-forgotten film.
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9/10
Very enjoyable and memorable film
DennisJOBrien11 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I bought the DVD and listened with a pair of high-quality headphones. What I thought was going to be average monaural sound turned out to be fantastic stereo surround sound, with the original singing voice of Al Jolson coming across magnificently ..... and all long before Dolby this and Dolby that. I later read somewhere that the stereo treatment may have resulted from a re-release of the film in the 1950's. All I can say is it sounded great and deserved its Oscar win for Best Sound. The color cinematography also deserved its nomination from the Academy. All in all, great acting and story development, even if not completely accurate as a biography. I had only seen Al Jolson in "The Jazz Singer," but Larry Parks seems to have pulled off the mannerisms quite well and exuberantly, too. Watching this interesting film makes it very clear why Al Jolson was so well loved and admired as an entertainer throughout the world. Every young person should see this film in order to appreciate what came before in the world of musical entertainment -- from minstrel shows to vaudeville and the advent of the "talkies."

The superb musical numbers "A Quarter To Nine" and "She's A Latin From Manhattan" were actually in the 1935 film "Go Into Your Dance," in which Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler starred together. To my astonishment that film is not available on DVD yet, but apparently can be seen on cable TV via Turner Classic Movies. It would be really interesting to see how close the musical numbers in "The Jolson Story" copied the original treatments in "Go Into Your Dance."

"The Jolson Story" seems to end suddenly and rather unexpectedly, and I felt the director and screenwriter should have added a bit more emotion and drama to the climax of having Julie Benson (as Ruby Keeler) walking out on Al Jolson. You have the feeling that you want the film to continue at that point, rather than end. This was perhaps planned that way. The sequel, "Jolson Sings Again," is also an excellent film.
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8/10
The Greatest.
elgee5 December 1999
"Let me sing a funny song, with crazy words that roll along, and if my song can make you happy, I'm happy.....I'm happy....." Al Jolson sang those words of the song, ' Let me sing and I'm happy,' in the opening of The Jolson Story, words that epitomized the passion and energy in his music. The Jolson Story does a magnificent job in giving us a taste of Jolson's magic that spellbound America in the twenties and early thirties, most of his songs are in the show, April Showers, Swanee, Mammy, California Here I Come and , the incomparable, The Anniversary Song, sang as only Jolson can. And, due to some enterprising technology at the time we also hear more of his voice in the Movie that perhaps his fans did in those days with Film Studio microphones capturing and accentuating a deep resonance that is solely Jolson's. The Film doesn't attempt to factually explore his life, although we do get a chance to see some truths of the relationship with his real life wife, Ruby Keeler, who in the Movie was known as Julie Benson, played by Evelyn Keys. Interesting to note was the fact that Columbia Pictures, who released the Movie failed to give Warner Bros.the Film company responsible for giving Jolson the role in The Jazz Singer, any recognition whatsoever, presenting further evidence of the Producer's and Jolson's desire to give us some entertainment, as opposed to a lesson in history. And, entertained we are, as Larry Parks, with his unbelievable miming to Jolson's songs......apart from a cameo from Jolson singing Swanee....takes us from Vaudeville days in the twenties with all Jolson's great songs and routines, to his semi retirement in the thirties. The Jolson Story is a wonderful experience, full of songs we still sing today more than fifty years after they were released, and sung by the man most of us remember as the greatest entertainer of them all......Al Jolson.
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8/10
A technical gem - and very entertaining
duraflex2 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Others have dealt with the content so I'll focus on the technical aspects of THE JOLSON STORY (1946).

Viewing this 60 year old movie on DVD is simply amazing. The technical quality is phenomenal. The sound is in STEREO with doorbells and ringing phones coming from off screen left or right and trains and cars passing from side to side!!! Al Jolson and the orchestra sound great. The audio recording is so good that it won an Oscar. The music and arrangements are first rate.

The color and clarity of the image are phenomenal - although the restoration quality slips slightly after the first 60 minutes. (Could it be that the second reel of the master print had not aged as well as the first before they transferred it to video??? I don't know)

The sets, lighting and photography are wonderful because they are used to tell the story rather than draw attention to themselves.

Casting is perfect. Larry Parks as Jolson is excellent as he brings enthusiasm and verve to the role. His singing gestures are right on.

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In terms of content, Jolson's bold style influenced many performers in his own time and to this day. His popularity lasted many, many years. Jolson's use of "black-face" make up was a convention of its time but he appeared to hold onto it long after his fame would have allowed him to drop it. Despite that, I happen to like Jolson's songs and style and the producers wisely used Jolson's own voice on the music tracks.

Apparently, liberties were taken with some of the facts of Jolson's life in this movie bio but the essence of the story is true. It was and is a very entertaining film that did big box office and is still being sold and rented today on VHS and DVD.

For young people who want a time capsule of show business in the first half of the last century, this is a must see movie.
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A wonderful biopic about a great entertainer.
Shapster1118 May 2001
Al Jolson, along with Frank Sinatra, were perhaps the two greatest singer/entertainers of the 20th Century. This film, made in 1946, was both the launching pad and "ball and chain" for Larry Parks. His performance was so good it earned him an Academy Award nomination. He spent countless hours perfecting the Jolson mannerisms and lip-syncing the songs that the great Jolson recorded for the movie. Unfortunately he became so typecast in the role that his reprise of the role in the sequel in 1949 was his only other claim to fame. That, and his admission and subsequent subliminal blacklist from Hollywood for being a member of the Communist Party between 1941-1951, stopped his career before it ever really had a chance to bloom.

My father had me watch this movie as a kid on Million Dollar Movie and I was taken by the personality, drive, energy, and talent of this great entertainer. Hearing about, and seeing, silent movies made me all the more in awe of the talent Jolson must have been since Hollywood banked it's future on talkies with "The Jazz Singer".

Besides Parks excellent performances are also put in by William Demerest, who many of us remember as Uncle Charlie in My Three Sons, Evelyn Keyes as Julie Benson (Jolson's first wife) and the rest of the cast. The 1949 making of Jolson Sings Again is also worthwhile, if for no other reason than watching Parks do the masterful lip-sync and the incredible vocals of Jolson.
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10/10
Great movie about a true show business icon
caa82115 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Al Jolson can be considered to show business what Babe Ruth is to baseball, Hank Williams to country music, Jordan to basketball, Gretzsky to hockey - in a field with many prominent and great figures over many decades, still the one individual who stands at the top among his peers. Although he was far from the altruistic person portrayed here, this doesn't diminish his greatness. Neither do the fictionalized aspects of the story, which stretch the facts well beyond the normally wide boundaries common to biographical pictures, especially from the 1930's, through the depression and WW II years, into the '50's.

For example, the William Demarest character is an obvious "composite" of others with whom Jolson appeared early in his career - his brother (never even hinted in the story) and other partners, before he joined Dockstader's minstrel show. In actuality, his mother died when he was eight - several years before the time period where this story begins; and yet she is a key character in the film, commenting upon, advising, and to a degree influencing some of Al's decision process - even when he is an adult. And the Evelyn Keyes character ("Julie," but actually Ruby Keeler) was hardly his first love (as indicated by the movie), but his third wife; they married when he was nearing his mid-40's and she had just turned 19, and after, not during, his shooting "The Jazz Singer."

In this film, William Demarest, now his manager, advises him to have some fun, as if he didn't even date for concentrating so much on just performing - which in actuality would have been a period in his life when he was well into his second marriage (or even after it might have ended). A friend of mine, who, while not famous, has starred with his wife as an entertainer in Branson and other venues, appeared in movies and television, and is an avid member of "The Jolson Society," heard a story from someone who at one time had been in the Jolson entourage. Far from eschewing feminine company for love of only performing (as indicated in the film) Jolson is said to have often engaged the "companionship" of a couple of showgirls in his dressing room to help him relax prior to a performance. (He also said that Ruby Keeler had indicated the accurately-portrayed scene of his rising from the audience to sing during her show was not simply a loving, charitable act. Rather, it was a reflection of Al's extremely immense ego, and his desire for the spotlight to be on him as much as possible.) And the shows he headlined on Sundays, largely for other entertainers of Broadway, weren't solely the benevolent act portrayed here. He supposedly often engaged in banter from the stage, pointing-out to those assembled, the contrast between his level of success and theirs, and the like.

Finally, the movie indicates "Julie's" absolute desire completely to retire, while Jolson is depicted as doing so to accommodate this strong, obsessively-portrayed need on her part. Actually, at this time, in real life, Ruby Keeler was barely 30, and with a far busier career than his. In addition to the movie depicting this contrary to fact, even the way this fiction is shown is somewhat silly. He wants to stay home, "as usual," and strongly indicates this near the film's close. But the Bill Goodwin (Broadway producer) character, visiting their secluded home, and even Jolson's parents, insist on going to a night club. Then, when he reluctantly accedes to the emcee's request to sing, and gets caught-up in once again performing on-stage (after a supposedly long lapse, of years), Julie summarily walks out while he's singing - and then later (at the outset in the sequel), even his father chides him about it, clearly indicating the blame is his alone. But ... all these fictional histrionics aside, this movie is a great work about the most iconic of entertainers. The music is marvelous - and the sequel 3-years later (unique among Hollywood biopics), is an outstanding continuation, beginning precisely where this original leaves off. Many have criticized this shorter follow-up as being inferior to the original. I would characterize it as great, also - perhaps just not quite as great, and recommend one view both pictures in tandem. Give both 10 stars; this original would be 10 +.
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A musical gem gave new life to Jolson's reputation...
Doylenf15 April 2001
As a previous commentator put it so well, Larry Parks is better at playing Jolson than Jolson is! It's a fact. Watching him perform as Jolson is infinitely more pleasurable than watching the man himself--and if you've seen any of Jolson's own films you'll acknowledge the truth in my statement. Thank God Larry Parks was chosen to play him--his lip synch job is amazing. When those pure rich tones emanate from his mouth the movie goes into high gear. A dazzling number of songs sung in Jolson's inimitable style makes this a real treasure for fans of nostalgia. It's no wonder this was one of the most popular films of 1946. Glossy production values, a great cast, a script that whitewashes the true Jolson character but still has enough bearing on reality to make it an interesting bio. A total pleasure from beginning to end--again, mainly because Larry Parks was at the right place at the right time. Definitely one of the best musical biographies of all time...and fortunately, the sequel is not far behind it. See 'Jolson Sings Again' and you'll see what I mean.
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10/10
You Haven't Lived Till You Have Seen It
sturtz25 February 2005
The best movie ever made about the best entertainer who ever lived.Who else who performed 100 years ago are we still watching.....No One. The songs are the best and Larry Parks contributed immensely to endearing "Jolson" to all future generations. Sit back and turn up the volume and you will feel the electricity and amazing energy of Jolson through Jolson's voice and Parks portrayal. As all Bio's are fictionalized accounts of someones lives, this story is about the music that Jolson brought to millions of fans. My great grandmother born 1885 was the first generation of fans, my 17 month old grandson will become the sixth, his dad, my son plays Jolson every day. The "Greatest Entertainer" lives on.
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10/10
A film from a different world
aciolino2 November 2003
Simultaneously one of the finest and MOST NEGLECTED musicals of Hollywood's "Golden Era." One can only attribute this to the current atmosphere of political correctness that so erodes truth and learning in our society. No one (or very few, at least) are willing or able to understand what blackface really meant and how it was used and who used it. It is a sad situation and has lead to almost complete amnesia that pervades our time regarding Al Jolson and this fabulous film biography.

Great songs sung by a master showman. No special effects beyond the dubbing of Jolson's voice by Larry Parks. No explosions, rapes, bloodletting. No morphing, shape-shifting aliens. No loud, tuneless music. No rap "songs" extoling attitude and misogyny. Imagine a world like this one and you have "The Jolson Story." If you are under 45 you probably don't know what this means.
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8/10
Enjoyable!
willrams17 May 2003
I was 20years old when this film came out, and Jolson voice was so well known even before, that it was such a big thrill to see his biography on film. Larry Parks was typecast from the very beginning, playing Al Jolson. He was a fine actor but got involved with communism politics of the McCarthy Hearings and was dropped by the studios in 1950. Evelyn Keyes (of Gone With the Wind fame) plays Mrs Jolson, and William Demarest plays Jolson's mentor. Ludwig Donath plays his father the Cantor while Tamara Shayne plays his mother. His father wanted him to be a cantor, but Jolson wanted to sing on stage, so he runs away at an early age. He takes up with a fidler on the stage played by William Demarest. It is true that Jolson was such an egotist and loved singing so much that it broke up his marriage. Wonderful scoring of the music, and photography is enchanting. If you like the old songs, especially Jolson's, don't miss it! 8/10
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THE Magical Musical of All-Time.
jolie-824 July 1999
After all these years, and all my countless viewings, "The Jolson Story" remains the most magical and thrilling of all Hollywood musical biographies. It also stands as testament to "The World's Greatest Entertainer," Al Jolson, and his tremendous impact on show business for all time. Jolie's fantastic voice, filled with warmth, power and soul, will always be heard as long as this wonderful movie is viewed. Larry Parks and his supporting cast are superb, but it is that Jolson voice, electricity-personified, that elevates the film to immortal status.
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7/10
Surprisingly good bio-pic
funkyfry15 October 2002
Jolson's life story comes off as well as possible, thanks mostly to fluid direction and Parks' star turn as Jolson. The actual voice of Al Jolson was, fortunately, used in this movie in recordings he made especially for it (avoiding the negative results achieved in other biopics where the actor's voice was used, i.e. "The Buddy Holly Story" and "The Doors"). Of course, Jolson't personal participation, along with the fact that Jolson was a particularly admired star (by his fans, if certainly not by his fellow artists) make for this being a highly inaccurate, overly sympathetic, film biography. How it deals with his failed marriage to Ruby Keeler is particularly interesting, as Parks and Co. dance around Miss Keeler's potential lawsuits.
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9/10
a movie for young and old
paptwin24 April 2004
This is one of the rare movies that you can watch time and time again and never tire of it.

The entertainment begins when Scott Beckett plays a young Jolson singing at the burlesque house instead of his fathers Synagogue. The Cantor and his wife reluctantly give in and there son is handed over to William Demarest to get his start in show Buisness. William Demarest not only becomes his manager, friend and the only one who can keep pace with the fast roller coaster life that Jolsen felt he had to live. Larry Parks plays the young Jolson who mimes Jolson's songs to perfection. The hand movement and the actions aren't as energetic as Jolson was in real life, but you cannot imagine anyone else playing the lead role. Jolson has a cameo role as he sings swanie and runs down the run way, you have to be quick to spot him but you can't help but reconise the old master. Evelyn Keys does a good job as portraying Jolsons wife Julie. Julie realises he is a workaholic and says" If ever he wants to sing more than he wants to be with me " their marriage would be over. Julie realises this when at the end of the movie he goes to a night club and sings one song for old time sake. That is when she realises what he was missing at home were the faces. So she walks out. this movie is loosely based on Jolsons life. He had more than one wife and could be a rogue when he chosed to be, but that is something you don't even think about when you watch this movie. When they made " Jolson sings again" they did a very rare thing which is seldom done when a sequel is made. They picked up where the first Jolson movie left of. In this movie you got to know more about the man, how he was the first entertainer to go overseas to entertain the troops even though his style of singing was long gone as other entertainers such as Bing Crosby etc pushed him from the charts. If you watch "The Jolson Story" you always have the urge to watch the sequel " Jolson sings Again" as it is the same cast playing tribute to one of the best entertainers who ever lived. The Jolson story revived Al Jolson's career.
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10/10
I saw the Jolson Story 13 times in theaters in 1946.
Py7 April 1999
I was in the Army in 1946. I had always been a big fan of Al Jolson, "The World's Greatest Entertainer." I was stationed at Camp Stoneman, California, and bussed home on weekends. On the trip back to Stoneman on Sunday nights, there was a 2 1/2 hour layover in Oakland, and the theater playing the Jolson Story was right across the street from the bus depot. So I passed the time watching my favorite movie. I counted 13 times that I saw it in a theater, and countless times since on video. Needless to say, I loved it.
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10/10
Jolson Story
helives216 November 2005
The Jolson Story is one of the best movies ever made. Even though some of it is fiction, I enjoy watching it over and over again (as well as Jolson Sings Again). Larry Parks did a marvelous rendition of Al Jolson. He was an excellent actor who died much too early, but he left us with his wonderful acting. My favorite song in the movie, Jolson Sings Again, is "Sonny Boy", although I like all the songs! Scotty Beckett is a very good young Al Jolson. William Demarest was one of my favorite actors and was excellent in his part as Al Jolson's partner and then Manager. Bill Goodwin was great, and Ludwig Donath and Tamara Shayne were fine, also.
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a corny old musical that works its magic after all these years
toonnnnn27 April 2004
I have just watched the Jolson story on dvd and it is great, the music is fresh and the technicolor is fantastic.The story is loosely based on Jolsons life, though I think if your after a serious study of his career you should visit your libary and read up on his life.The acting is top notch, William Demarest is excellent as the Steve Martin a mentor to Jolson as he grows up then a manager of his career.I also like the performances of mama and the kantor.The Julie Benson charactor is supposed to be Ruby Keeler, they are the perfect couple but show business is the drug that Al Jolson is addicted to, and that eats into their relationship.The energy of this movie is tremendous it stays with you for hours the melodys linger in your head, its life affirming.The beauty of this dvd is that the sequel is also on the dvd so I will be watching that soon.Marks out of ten /9.5
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10/10
Simply the best musical biopic ever filmed!
opsbooks8 April 2003
There's not a lot left to say that others haven't already put down in their comments. Why it hasn't come out on DVD is a good question. My biggest thrill was seeing the remastered widescreen version with superlative stereo sound on the big screen in Parramatta, Sydney, over 30 years ago. An experience never to be forgotten. I do have the Super 8 20-minute highlights movie and it's pretty good, if you can find it!
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10/10
in my opinion, one of the finest musical bio's to come out of the 40"s
oandroplex7006 March 2003
A wonderful story although not all true, But wonderful music and entertainment about the "worlds greatest Entertainer " It is a daziling

technicolor film filled with touching songs, And scenes that will give just about anyone Goosebumps. It almost made best picture of 1946 but was beat out by the best years of our lives............
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10/10
I Can Never Get Tired Of This Music
2server21 November 1999
The Jolson Story has become one of those immortal films that one must see at least to appreciate why so many of Jolson's contemporaries (George Burns, George Jessel, Eddie Cantor, Jack Benny, Fanny Brice, Flo Ziegfeld, the Marx Brothers.....) agreed that although he was one real sonofabitch, he was the World's Greatest Entertainer. His style and presence were unique. The songs are all the types you hear over and over again in any hotel lounge or a wedding or bar-mitzvah. From the blue-rinse set to the blue hair crazies Jolson will always find an appreciative audience.His rendering of the "Anniversary Waltz" made an obscure Roumanian tune become a mainstay of every Bar-Mitzvah and wedding around ever since.Although he could not play himself (he was too damn old and fat), he managed to wangle a surprise in doing "Swanee" although filmed far away, you could see that *was* Jolson. Even if Larry Parks was good (and he was!) he just could not come close to that frenzied action that made "Swanee" so popular and memorable as only Jolson himself could do. Go see the Jolson Story and Jolson Sings Again and have the family together - make it an annual tradition it is so schmaltzy but sooooo good.
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10/10
Love it more every time I see it.
reflex-123 September 2006
I agree that Larry Parks should have received an Oscar for this performance. It's an amazing job! And, yes, joleson's parents were made to look alittle too sweet, and the dialog between Larry Parks and Evelyn Keyes was somewhat stilted, but every time Jolson sings, all is forgiven. Every time Parks plays Jolson singing, all is forgiven. In the opening scene, in which Scotty Beckett plays young Jolson, I am always stunned at the beauty of that singing voice. Does anyone know whose voice it was? Was it Scotty's? I am disappointed at criticism of this movie on the issue of Al Jolson's performing in black face. It is a historical fact that he did it, and to attempt to write it out of history is not helpful to anyone. The fact that this movie was presented after World War II and was a resounding hit is evidence, I believe, that it is the music and the way it was performed, and not the black face, that people loved. This fine movie preserves a whole era of American show business, and it is powerful enough to still bring tears to the eyes.
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10/10
Thrilling songs from the world's greatest entertainer.
none-852 January 1999
One of the best musicals ever. The incomparable and thrilling voice of Al Jolson is lip synched by Larry Parks in a masterful way. After seeing the movie I became a lifelong Jolson fan. Swanee, April Showers, Rock-a Bye Your Baby, California Here I Come are only four of about 25 songs sung by Jolson. Parks earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actor. The supporting actors- Evelyn Keyes, Bill Demarest, Bill Goodwin, Ludwig Donath, Tamara Shayne, and Scotty Beckett give memorable performances. Rudy Wissler dubbed the voice of Beckett as the young Jolson. The movie revived Jolson's career.
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7/10
The boisterous and the beautiful
ptb-814 December 2006
This spectacular 1946 Columbia musical in breathtaking almost-3D Technicolor is a very enjoyable if completely implausible musical biography of boisterous Al Jolson and his verbal bullying that apparently enchanted vaudeville in the teens and 20s. Bruce Willis lookalike Larry Parks performs admirably even with Jolson's real voice (Lina Lamont style) and some clever makeup (big rouged bottom lip) and pop eyes does enough to outline Jolson's look to put the part over. Othe comments here will tell you the ridiculous mistakes and glossing over of real events and other people all to condense his chatterbox career into a containable 2 hours. For me, the silliest section was the transition from stage to talkies thru The Jazz Singer and Ruby Keeler's rise as a musical star. Here she is called Julie Benson ( Ruby would'nt play ball for this pic) and somehow it goes from 1927 and The Jazz Singer premiere straight to 42nd St (1933) as if it is the next day. One really stupid scene set in 1927 shows Broadway day and then night... with the Empire State Building in the distance! It wasn't built and opened until 1932! Yeesh. And this pic was made in ' 46. How bad did Columbia's front office expect the awareness of the audience to be! It muddles songs from the later Keeler pics into Keeler's '42ND ST' and then somehow mashes it all together and jumps straight to about 1940. Mom and Pop Jolson are treated with the usual simpleton ethnic manner (food! food ! MUMMA, food!) that tormented Italians in the Marx Bros films. The production is really that star and Columbia certainly presented a handsome art direction effort if incredibly mangled storyline. A massive hit in its day, it spawned a great sequel in 1949: JOLSON SINGS AGAIN. Warner Bros reissued their 1935 Keeler/Jolson musical GO INTO YOUR DANCE in 1946 cashing in on the wake of this Columbia mega success.... maybe also as payback for mangling the mid section of The Jolson Story and their real years at Warners making musicals like DAMES and DANCE. .... GO INTO YOUR DANCE actually a great 30s musical and deserves a DVD reissue of its own.. It is better than a lot of other 30s musicals and with a really beautiful score and terrific dance numbers..... Anyway, in the early 50s poor Larry was harangued in the HUAC hearings that grinded many Hollywood careers to a halt. The pic did get a widescreen reissue and a stereo bump... then shelved.. However, amazingly, in the late 60s after Columbia won the Best Pic Oscar for OLIVER in 1968 and then more Oscars again in 1969 for FUNNY GIRL, there were big plans to reissue THE JOLSON STORY now amped up to 70mm and widescreen (like GWTW at the time) and 6 track stereo. I actually saw trailers for this 'coming attraction' in cinemascope here in Sydney in 1969 and it was all a big deal.... until it never happened. I am assuming it is these excellent stereo soundtrack separations that allow the DVD to be so audibly fantastic as I hear it tonight. Also, the color: original Technicolor, is gorgeous. It is also very easy to get sick of Jolson... as poor Ruby did in real life, and after their divorce refused every to speak of him again for as long as he lived. Jolson died in 1950. Ruby about 1990.
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9/10
You Ain't Seen Nothing' Yet!
bebop63-110 March 2007
This is a truly enjoyable film to watch if only to see Al Jolson in action, singing his hits like "Swanee", "My Mammy". The close-ups of him singing both in blackface and as he is are truly mesmerising. A pity that the movie wasn't even nominated for Best Picture in 1946, though it did win for Original Score. He may have come across as an egotist who revelled in hugging the spotlight, but for all that his enthusiasm and love of entertaining audiences is simply infectious. I also loved the understanding and supportive attitude of his parents towards his career even though they opposed his entering showbusiness initially.

The only reason I rate it a 9 and not a perfect 10 is for the historical inaccuracies it portrays, like the fact that Steve Martin, Al's performing partner and later booking agent didn't really exist (in reality he was a composite of several people involved in Al's career), and that his mother actually died when he was very young but in the film she witnesses his rise to fame and fortune till the end - but then, I have yet to see a movie biopic that remains 100% true to the real life of the person in question. Still, it is a truly memorable and unforgettable film for all.
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