Classic Film Guide

Jazz Singer, The (1927)

Story about a Jewish Cantor's son (played by Al Jolson) who doesn't want to follow in the tradition of his father (Warner Oland), and his father's father, but instead wants to sing his kind of music, the blasphemous jazz. It's claim to fame as the first talkie (winning an Honorary Oscar as such) is rather dubious, only the musical numbers (and one other small part) have sound. The rest of the film has the usual placards with the text of what the characters are saying printed on them. Directed by Alan Crosland, Samson Raphaelson's play was adapted by Alfred Cohn, earning him his only Academy Award nomination (Best Writing, Adaptation). It was added to the National Film Registry in 1996, and is #90 on AFI's 100 Greatest Movies list. The film was later remade with Neil Diamond & Laurence Olivier, a movie which is unintentionally funny. Jolson's historical (first spoken?) line "Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain't heard nothin' yet! is #71 on AFI's 100 Greatest Movie Quotes list.

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