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This article is about the 1927 film. For the 1952 remake of the same name, see The Jazz Singer (1952 film).

The Jazz Singer is a 1927 American musical drama film directed by Alan Crosland. It is the first feature-length motion picture with not only a synchronized recorded music score but also lip-synchronous singing and speech in several isolated sequences. Its release heralded the commercial ascendance of sound films and ended the silent film era. It was produced by Warner Bros. with its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system and features six songs performed by Al Jolson. It is based on the 1925 play of the same name by Samson Raphaelson, which itself was adapted from one of his short stories titled "The Day of Atonement".

The film depicts the fictional story of Jakie Rabinowitz, a young man who defies the traditions of his devout Jewish family. After singing popular tunes in a beer garden, he is punished by his father, a hazzan (cantor), prompting Jakie to run away from home. Some years later, now calling himself Jack Robin, he has become a talented jazz singer. He attempts to build a career as an entertainer, but his professional ambitions ultimately come into conflict with the demands of his home and heritage.

Darryl F. Zanuck won an Honorary Academy Award for producing the film; Alfred A. Cohn was nominated for Best Writing (Adaptation) at the 1st Academy Awards. In 1996, The Jazz Singer was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" motion pictures. In 1998, the film was chosen in voting conducted by the American Film Institute as one of the best American films of all time, ranking at number ninety.

Plot

Cantor Rabinowitz wants his son to carry on the generations-old family tradition and become a cantor at the synagogue in the Jewish ghetto of Manhattan's Lower East Side. But down at the beer garden, thirteen-year-old Jakie Rabinowitz is performing so-called jazz tunes. Moisha Yudelson spots the boy and tells Jakie's father, who drags him home. Jakie clings to his mother, Sara, as his father declares, "I'll teach him better than to debase the voice God gave him!" Jakie threatens: "If you whip me again, I'll run away — and never come back!" After the whipping, Jakie kisses his mother goodbye and, true to his word, runs away. At the Yom Kippur service, Rabinowitz mournfully tells a fellow celebrant, "My son was to stand at my side and sing tonight – but now I have no son." As the sacred Kol Nidre is sung, Jakie sneaks back home to retrieve a picture of his loving mother.

About 10 years later, Jakie has changed his name to the more assimilated Jack Robin. Jack is called up from his table at a cabaret to perform on stage.

Jack wows the crowd with his energized rendition. Afterward, he is introduced to the beautiful Mary Dale, a musical theater dancer. "There are lots of jazz singers, but you have a tear in your voice," she says, offering to help with his budding career. With her help, Jack eventually gets his big break: a leading part in the new musical April Follies.

Back at the family home Jack left long ago, the elder Rabinowitz instructs a young student in the traditional cantorial art. Jack appears and tries to explain his point of view, and his love of modern music, but the appalled cantor banishes him: "I never want to see you again — you jazz singer!" As he leaves, Jack makes a prediction: "I came home with a heart full of love, but you don't want to understand. Some day you'll understand, the same as Mama does."

Two weeks after Jack's expulsion from the family home and 24 hours before opening night of April Follies on Broadway, Jack's father falls gravely ill. Jack is asked to choose between the show and duty to his family and faith: in order to sing the Kol Nidre for Yom Kippur in his father's place, he will have to miss the big premiere.

That evening, the eve of Yom Kippur, Yudleson tells the Jewish elders, "For the first time, we have no Cantor on the Day of Atonement." Lying in his bed, weak and gaunt, Cantor Rabinowitz tells Sara that he cannot perform on the most sacred of holy days: "My son came to me in my dreams—he sang Kol Nidre so beautifully. If he would only sing like that tonight—surely he would be forgiven."

As Jack prepares for a dress rehearsal by applying blackface makeup, he and Mary discuss his career aspirations and the family pressures they agree he must resist. Sara and Yudleson come to Jack's dressing room to plea for him to come to his father and sing in his stead. Jack is torn. He delivers his blackface performance ("Mother of Mine, I Still Have You"), and Sara sees her son onstage for the first time. She has a tearful revelation: "Here he belongs. If God wanted him in His house, He would have kept him there. He's not my boy anymore—he belongs to the whole world now."

Afterward, Jack returns to the Rabinowitz home. He kneels at his father's bedside and the two converse fondly: "My son—I love you." Sara suggests that it may help heal his father if Jack takes his place at the Yom Kippur service. Mary arrives with the producer, who warns Jack that he'll never work on Broadway again if he fails to appear on opening night. Jack can't decide. Mary challenges him: "Were you lying when you said your career came before everything?" Jack is unsure if he even can replace his father: "I haven't sung Kol Nidre since I was a little boy." His mother tells him, "Do what is in your heart, Jakie—if you sing and God is not in your voice — your father will know." The producer cajoles Jack: "You're a jazz singer at heart!"

At the theater, the opening night audience is told that there will be no performance. Jack sings the Kol Nidre in his father's place. His father listens from his deathbed to the nearby ceremony and speaks his last, forgiving words: "Mama, we have our son again." The spirit of Jack's father is shown at his side in the synagogue. Mary has come to listen. She sees how Jack has reconciled the division in his soul: "a jazz singer—singing to his God."

"The season passes—and time heals—the show goes on." Jack, as "The Jazz Singer," is now appearing at the Winter Garden theater, apparently as the featured performer opening for a show called Back Room. In the front row of the packed theater, his mother sits alongside Yudleson. Jack, in blackface, performs the song "My Mammy" for her and for the world.

Cast

  • Al Jolson as Jakie Rabinowitz (Jack Robin)
  • Warner Oland as Cantor Rabinowitz
  • Eugenie Besserer as Sara Rabinowitz
  • May McAvoy as Mary Dale
  • Otto Lederer as Moisha Yudelson
  • Richard Tucker as Harry Lee
  • Yossele Rosenblatt as himself
  • Bobby Gordon as Jakie Rabinowitz (age 13)
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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The article or pieces of the original article was at The Jazz Singer. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Warner Bros. Entertainment Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.


v - e - d
The Jazz Singer transparent logo
Media
The Jazz Singer
Characters
Jakie Rabinowitz | Cantor Rabinowitz | Sara Rabinowitz | Mary Dale | Moisha Yudelson | Harry Lee | Yossele Rosenblatt
Songs
My Gal Sal | Waiting for the Robert E. Lee | Yussel, Yussel | Kol Nidre | Dirty Hands, Dirty Face | Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goo' Bye) | Kaddish | Yahrzeit Licht | Blue Skies | Mother of Mine, I Still Have You | My Mammy
See also
Warner Bros. | Vitaphone | Al Jolson | Jack L. Warner


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Warner Bros. Pictures 2019
1910s
1916: Robinson Crusoe

1918: My Four Years in Germany · Kaiser's Finish
1919: Open Your Eyes · Beware! · Speed

1920s
1920: The Tiger Band · The Lost City · Parted Curtains

1921: Miracles of the Jungle · School Days · Why Girls Leave Home · Ashamed of Parents
1922: Your Best Friend · Rags to Riches · A Dangerous Adventure · The Beautiful and Damned · Heroes of the Street
1923: Brass · The Tie That Binds · Little Church Around the Corner · Main Street · Where the North Begins · Little Johnny Jones · The Printer's Devil · The Gold Diggers · The Country Kid · Lucretia Lombard · Tiger Rose
1924: Conductor 1492 · George Washington Jr. · Daddies · The Marriage Circle · Beau Brummel · How to Educate a Wife · Broadway After Dark · Babbitt · Being Respectable · Her Marriage Vow · Cornered · Lover's Lane · The Tenth Woman · Find Your Man · Three Women · This Woman · The Age of Innocence · The Lover of Camille · The Dark Swan · The Lighthouse by the Sea · A Lost Lady
1925: The Bridge of Sighs · The Narrow Street · On Thin Ice · A Broadway Butterfly · Recompense · My Wife and I · The Man Without a Conscience · Eve's Lover · Tracked in the Snow Country · How Baxter Butted In · Kiss Me Again · The Woman Hater · The Limited Mail · The Wife Who Wasn't Wanted · His Majesty, Bunker Bean · Below the Line · The Man on the Box · Compromise · Bobbed Hair · Red Hot Tires · Seven Sinners · Satan in Sables · Rose of the World · The Clash of the Wolves · Three Weeks in Paris · Hogan's Alley · Pleasure Buyers · Lady Windermere's Fan
1926: The Fighting Edge · His Jazz Bride · The Sea Beast · The Man Upstairs · The Golden Cocoon · The Caveman · The Love Toy · Bride of the Storm · The Night Cry · Why Girls Go Back Home · The Little Irish Girl · Oh! What a Nurse! · The Gilded Highway · Other Women's Husbands · The Sap · Hell-Bent for Heaven · Silken Shackles · The Social Highwayman · Footloose Widows · The Passionate Quest · A Hero of the Big Snows · So This Is Paris · Don Juan · Broken Hearts of Hollywood · The Honeymoon Express · Millionaires · Across the Pacific · My Official Wife · The Better 'Ole · Private Izzy Murphy · While London Sleeps · The Third Degree
1927: Finger Prints · Wolf's Clothing · The Fortune Hunter · Don't Tell the Wife · Hills of Kentucky · The Gay Old Bird · White Flannels · What Every Girl Should Know · Matinee Ladies · Bitter Apples · The Brute · Tracked by the Police · The Climbers · Irish Hearts · The Missing Link · A Million Bid · Simple Sis · The Black Diamond Express · Dearie · What Happened to Father? · The Heart of Maryland · The Bush Leaguer · When a Man Loves · The Desired Woman · Slightly Used · Old San Francisco · Jaws of Steel · One-Round Hogan · The First Auto · A Sailor's Sweetheart · The Jazz Singer · Sailor Izzy Murphy · The College Widow · A Reno Divorce · A Dog of the Regiment · Good Time Charley · The Silver Slave · The Girl from Chicago · Ginsberg the Great · Brass Knuckles · If I Were Single · Ham and Eggs at the Front · Husbands for Rent
1928: Beware of Married Men · A Race for Life · The Little Snob · Across the Atlantic · Powder My Back · Tenderloin · Domestic Troubles · The Crimson City · Rinty of the Desert · Glorious Betsy · Pay as You Enter · The Lion And The Mouse · Five and Ten Cent Annie · Lights of New York · Women They Talk About · Caught in the Fog · State Street Sadie · The Midnight Taxi · The Terror · Night Watch · Waterfront · The Singing Fool · Show Girl · Do Your Duty · Land of the Silver Fox · Lilac Time · Beware of Bachelors · Noah's Ark · The Home Towners · The Haunted House · Outcast · On Trial · Adoration · The Little Wildcat · The Barker · My Man · Conquest · The Ware Case
1929: Synthetic Sin · Cheyenne · Scarlet Seas · Fancy Baggage · Seven Footprints to Satan · Stark Mad · His Captive Woman · The Greyhound Limited · The Million Dollar Collar · Weary River · The Redeeming Sin · The Lawless Legion · The Royal Rider · Stolen Kisses · Why Be Good? · Children of the Ritz · Saturday's Children · One Stolen Night · Kid Gloves · Queen of the Night Clubs · Love and the Devil · Hardboiled Rose · The Divine Lady · No Defense · The Desert Song · Sonny Boy · Frozen River · From Headquarters · House of Horror · Glad Rag Doll · Hot Stuff · The Squall · Two Weeks Off · Prisoners · The Flying Scotsman · Careers · Madonna of Avenue A · The Girl in the Glass Cage · The Gamblers · Broadway Babies · The Man and the Moment · The Time, The Place And The Girl · On with the Show · Twin Beds · Drag · Smiling Irish Eyes · Hard to Get · The Hottentot · Dark Streets · The Argyle Case · Say It with Songs · Her Private Life · Gold Diggers of Broadway · Honky Tonk · In the Headlines · Fast Life · Skin Deep · Hearts in Exile · The Careless Age · The Great Divide · A Most Immoral Lady · The Isle of Lost Ships · So Long Letty · Is Everybody Happy? · Young Nowheres · The Girl from Woolworth's · Disraeli · Paris · Footlights and Fools · The Sap · The Forward Pass · Little Johnny Jones · The Sacred Flame · The Painted Angel · Evidence · The Love Racket · The Aviator · Tiger Rose · The Show of Shows · Wedding Rings

1930s
1931: The Maltese Falcon

1935: Captain Blood
1938: Angels with Dirty Faces · The Adventures of Robin Hood
1939: Dark Victory

1940s
1941: The Maltese Falcon

1942: The Man Who Came to Dinner · Yankee Doodle Dandy · Casablanca
1944: Arsenic and Old Lace · To Have and Have Not
1946: The Big Sleep
1947: Dark Passage
1948: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre · Key Largo
1949: White Heat · The Fountainhead

1950s
1951: A Streetcar Named Desire

1955: Rebel Without a Cause

1960s
1964: My Fair Lady
1970s
1974: Blazing Saddles

1977: The Late Show · Brothers · Viva Knievel! · Exorcist II: The Heretic · One on One · Greased Lightning · Outlaw Blues · Bobby Deerfield · Oh, God! · A Piece of the Action · Starship Invasions · The Pack · The Goodbye Girl · The Gauntlet

1980s
1990s
2000s
2010s
2020s
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