Directed by Alan Crosland
USA 1927

 

  At the very first Academy Awards ceremony on May 16, 1929, Douglas Fairbanks presented a special Oscar to Warner Bros. production head Darryl F. Zanuck, who accepted on behalf of his studio for "producing The Jazz Singer, the pioneer outstanding talking picture, which has revolutionized the industry." Zanuck dedicated the award to Sam Warner, the brother who had served as the studio's chief executive and who had died the day before The Jazz Singer opened. Zanuck described the late executive as "the man responsible for the successful usage of the medium." The ceremonies ended on a lighter note as Al Jolson, the movie's star, entertained with patter and song. "I noticed they gave The Jazz Singer a statuette," he said. "But they didn't give me one; For the life of me, I can't see what Jack Warner can do with one of them. It can't say yes."

Experiments in sound film had been occurring almost since the birth of silent pictures, but Warner Bros. - until then considered a second-string studio - took the initiative in creating sound feature films after setting up its own radio station in 1927. Using its newly developed Vitaphone process, the studio added a score and sound effects to Don Juan (1926), a John Barrymore silent already in production. The success of this film, plus a series of musical shorts, inspired the creation of the first real "talkie" feature, The Jazz Singer.

Although Jolson had been the model for the central character in the Broadway play that became the basis for The Jazz Singer, the role of a young cantor who defies family tradition to become a pop singer had been played onstage by George Jessel. Warners bought the film rights for $50,000 and also signed Jessel, who balked when he learned the film would include sound and demanded an additional $10,000 to perform the songs. Instead, Warners turned to Jolson, and film history was made. The Jazz Singer proved a sensation at the box office, earning $3.5 million in profits on an investment of $500,000. As its special Oscar indicated, the film sparked the sound revolution and helped turn Warner Bros. into a major studio. Jolson's next film for Warners, The Singing Fool, was an even bigger hit and grossed more than any other movie of the 1920s.

Excerpt from Turner Classic Movies located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: October 5th, 1927

Reviews    More Reviews    DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC
Runtime 1:36:06 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.13 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0) 
Subtitles English (HOH), English, French, Spanish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

Disc 1: The Movie
• All-new feature digital transfer and immaculately refurbished soundtrack from restored picture elements and original Vitaphone-Sound-on-Disc recordings
• Commentary by film historians Ron Hutchinson and Vince Giordano
• Collection of rare cartoons and shorts: I Love to Sing (a classic 1936 WB parody cartoon directed by Tex Avery), Hollywood Handicap (classic M-G-M short with Al Jolson appearance), A Day at Santa Anita (classic Technicolor Warner Bros. short with Al Jolson & Ruby Keeler cameo appearance), Al Jolson in 'A Plantation Act' (1926 • Vitaphone short made a year prior to The Jazz Singer), An Intimate Dinner in Celebration of Warner Bros. Silver Jubilee
• 1947 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast starring Al Jolson (audio only)
• Al Jolson Trailer Gallery
 

Disc 2: The Early Sound Era
• All-new feature-length documentary The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk
• Two rarely-seen Technicolor excerpts from Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929 WB film, most of which is considered lost)
• Studio shorts celebrating the early sound era: Finding His Voice (1929 Western Electric animated promotional short, produced by Max Fleischer), The Voice That Thrilled The World (Warner Bros. short about sound), Okay for Sound (1946 WB short celebrating the 20th anniversary of Vitaphone), When Talkies Were Young (1955 WB short looking back at the early talkies), The Voice from the Screen (1926 WB 'demonstration' film explores the Vitaphone technology and, looks at the making of a Vitaphone short)
 

Disc 3: Vitaphone Shorts
• Over 3 1/2 hours worth of rare, historic Vitaphone comedy and music shorts: Elsie Janis in a Vaudeville Act: "Behind the Lines", Bernado Depace: "Wizard of the Mandolin", Van and Schneck: "The Pennant Winning Battery of Songland", Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields, Hazel Green and Company, The Night Court, The Police Quartette, Ray Mayer & Edith Evans: "When East Meets West", Adele Rowland: "Stories in Song", Stoll, Flynn and Company: "The Jazzmania Quintet", The Ingenues in "The Band Beautiful", The Foy Family in "Chips off the Old Block",Dick Rich and His Melodious Monarchs, Gus Arnheim and His Ambassador,[Shaw and Lee: "The Beau Brummels",Larry Ceballos' Roof Garden Revue, Trixie Friganza in "My Bag O' Tricks", Green's Twentieth Century Faydetts,Sol Violinsky: "The Eccentric Entertainer", Ethel Sinclair and Marge La Marr in "At the Seashore", Paul Tremaine and His Aristocrats, Baby Rose Marie: "The Child Wonder", Burns & Allen in "Lambchops", Joe Frisco in • "The Happy Hottentots"
 

Collector's Edition bonuses:
• 10 seen behind-the-scenes photo cards
• Original release lobby card reproductions
• Original release souvenir program book reproduction
• 12-page Booklet with vintage document reproductions and DVD features guide
• Reproduction of post-premiere telegram from Al Jolson to Jack L. Warner

DVD Release Date: October 16th, 2007

Custom Case (see below)
Chapters: 26

 

Package

 

 

Comments:

I finally got through all that this 3-disc Deluxe Edition entails and I've been dreading writing this review as I sincerely doubt that I can convey the enormity of the package that Warner have pieced together here. I started watching it feeling as much a chore but really got into this - quite completely.

Technically what we have is three dual-layered NTSC DVDs, coded for regions 1 thru 4, in a custom package. The first contains the 1927 film - The Jazz Singer - with some relevant extras and the second two discs are overflowing with supplements. Visual quality on the main feature looks as the image captures below indicate. Damage, some digital noise etc are present but its clear that some extensive work has been done to bring this historically important film for digital presentation. Indicated on the package slip included 'new digital transfer and immaculately refurbished soundtrack from restored picture elements and original Vitaphone-Sound-on-Disc recordings.' 

The audio track appears to have the most work done and although it is light years from state of the art movies it is all audible and makes the film thoroughly watchable... and enjoyable. To believe that this was made as the first large-scale talkie feature film is astounding indeed.

If I'm calculating correctly - there is about 4.5 hours of extra material altogether (I must be wrong as there is 3.5 hours on the 3rd disc alone). I won't bother writing about each segment (listed in its entirety above) but instead recommend watching it all to get the most value. I will point out what I found most appealing; the Ron Hutchinson and Vince Giordano commentary is a must to understand intricate details the film and its history. I entered very ignorant about The Jazz Singer and now feel quite educated after listening. It's also fun as well. I, of course, enjoyed the Tex Avery cartoon,  feature-length documentary The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk on disc two and many of the Vitaphone comedy and music shorts on disc 3. You really are stepping back in time viewing this. I suggest a pitch black room - by yourself.

Perhaps more than the film itself is the historical document provided by this package and its accumulated wealth of knowledge through the supplements. It's appropriate that Warner chose this manner in presenting The Jazz Singer as it is so much more impacting and garners the most complete appreciation. This, unfortunately, will be ignored by the vast mass of DVD buyers when it may be one of the more important releases of the year. My opinion. As far as value goes for price - this is top shelf.   

Gary W. Tooze

 

 



DVD Menus


 

Disc 2


 

Disc 3


 


Subtitle Sample

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 

Intertitles (still used to some degree!)

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


Myrna Loy on left!!
 

 


 

 

 


 

 


DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!