The Jazz Singer stars entertainment legend Al Jolson in a story that bore a few similarities to his own life story. Jolson portrays a would-be entertainer whose show business aspirations conflict with the values of his cantor father (Warner Oland). The Jazz Singer began life as a 1925 Broadway play, and was revived early in 1927, starring George Jessel. The part was offered to Jolson, who was then at the height of his popularity.
Jolson had broken new ground on the stage and sold millions of phonograph records. Just his name on the marquee of a Broadway theater, or on a piece of sheet music, almost always guaranteed success. He found the challenge of conquering the screen via the new Vitaphone technology irresistible.
The movie premiered at the Warner Theater in New York City on October 6, 1927 and soon became a national phenomenon, limited only by the relatively small amount of theaters (200) which were already equipped with Vitaphone’s sound-on-disc technology (a process developed by Western Electric and Warner Bros. wherein a 16” disc was synchronized with standard 35mm projection equipment). The film was a smash everywhere it played, and led to the installation of sound equipment all over the nation. Less than 2 years later, nearly 8000 theaters were wired for sound. Fueled by Jolson’s charisma and Vitaphone, The Jazz Singer created the momentum for “talking pictures” that couldn’t be stopped. Silent films would soon become virtually extinct.
Release Date: January 8, 2013
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