A report on The Jazz Singer

Theatrical release poster
Jack and his mother (Eugenie Besserer)
Jack Robin on stage, in a publicity shot representing the film's final scene
Lobby card
A blackfaced Al Jolson starring in Robinson Crusoe, Jr.—the performance that inspired the story that led to the play that became the film The Jazz Singer
One of many alternative posters—this one designed for theaters charging 25 cents; the image of Jack, in a suggestive nightrobe, carrying Mary does appear in the film. It appears shortly after Jack sees Mary perform for the first time.
Mary (May McAvoy) and Jack, preparing for dress rehearsal: the first blackface scene

1927 American musical drama film directed by Alan Crosland.

- The Jazz Singer
Theatrical release poster

53 related topics with Alpha

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1908 poster advertising Gaumont's sound films. The Chronomégaphone, designed for large halls, employed compressed air to amplify the recorded sound.

Sound film

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Motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film.

Motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film.

1908 poster advertising Gaumont's sound films. The Chronomégaphone, designed for large halls, employed compressed air to amplify the recorded sound.
Image from The Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1894 or 1895), produced by W.K.L. Dickson as a test of the early version of the Edison Kinetophone, combining the Kinetoscope and phonograph.
Eric M. C. Tigerstedt (1887–1925) was one of pioneers of sound-on-film technology. Tigerstedt in 1915.
Poster featuring Sarah Bernhardt and giving the names of eighteen other "famous artists" shown in "living visions" at the 1900 Paris Exposition using the Gratioulet-Lioret system.
Newspaper ad for a 1925 presentation of Phonofilm shorts, touting their technological distinction: no phonograph.
Poster for Warner Bros.' Don Juan (1926), the first major motion picture to premiere with a full-length synchronized soundtrack. Audio recording engineer George Groves, the first in Hollywood to hold the job, would supervise sound on Woodstock, 44 years later.
Western Electric engineer E. B. Craft, at left, demonstrating the Vitaphone projection system. A Vitaphone disc had a running time of about 11 minutes, enough to match that of a 1000 ft reel of 35 mm film.
Newspaper ad from a fully equipped theater in Tacoma, Washington, showing The Jazz Singer, on Vitaphone, and a Fox newsreel, on Movietone, together on the same bill.
Dorothy Mackaill and Milton Sills in The Barker, First National's inaugural talkie. The film was released in December 1928, two months after Warner Bros. acquired a controlling interest in the studio.
The Prague-raised star of Blackmail (1929), Anny Ondra, was an industry favorite, but her thick accent became an issue when the film was reshot with sound. Without post-dubbing capacity, her dialogue was simultaneously recorded offscreen by actress Joan Barry. Ondra's British film career was over.
The first Soviet talkie, Putevka v zhizn (The Road to Life; 1931), concerns the issue of homeless youth. As Marcel Carné put it, "in the unforgettable images of this spare and pure story we can discern the effort of an entire nation."
Director Heinosuke Gosho's Madamu to nyobo (The Neighbor's Wife and Mine; 1931), a production of the Shochiku studio, was the first major commercial and critical success of Japanese sound cinema.
Alam Ara premiered March 14, 1931, in Bombay. The first Indian talkie was so popular that "police aid had to be summoned to control the crowds." It was shot with the Tanar single-system camera, which recorded sound directly onto the film.
Show Girl in Hollywood (1930), one of the first sound films about sound filmmaking, depicts microphones dangling from the rafters and multiple cameras shooting simultaneously from soundproofed booths. The poster shows a camera unboothed and unblimped, as it might be when shooting a musical number with a prerecorded soundtrack.
Example of a variable-area sound track—the width of the white area is proportional to the amplitude of the audio signal at each instant.
The unkind cover of Photoplay, December 1929, featuring Norma Talmadge. As movie historian David Thomson puts it, "sound proved the incongruity of [her] salon prettiness and tenement voice."
Premiering February 1, 1929, MGM's The Broadway Melody was the first smash-hit talkie from a studio other than Warner Bros. and the first sound film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Poster for Acabaram-se os otários (1929), performed in Portuguese. The first Brazilian talkie was also the first anywhere in an Iberian language.
Westfront 1918 (1930) was celebrated for its expressive re-creation of battlefield sounds, like the doomful whine of an unseen grenade in flight.
Image of sumo wrestlers from Melodie der Welt (1929), "one of the initial successes of a new art form", in André Bazin's description. "It flung the whole earth onto the screen in a jigsaw of visual images and sounds."

The first feature film originally presented as a talkie (although it had only limited sound sequences) was The Jazz Singer, which premiered on October 6, 1927.

Jolson in 1929

Al Jolson

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Lithuanian-American singer, comedian, actor, and vaudevillian.

Lithuanian-American singer, comedian, actor, and vaudevillian.

Jolson in 1929
Al Jolson, circa 1916
Movie poster, 1927
Poster for Hallelujah, I'm a Bum with unused title
original movie poster, 1946
Performing in Korea
Defense Secretary George Marshall presenting the Medal for Merit to Jolson's family after his death.
Jolson and wife, Erle, 1946
Jolson (right) in 1924 with President Calvin Coolidge, whom he supported
Tomb of Al Jolson, at Hillside Memorial Park
Al Jolson Way in New York City
With Irving Berlin, circa 1927
"50th Anniversary Year of Talking Pictures" stamp on first-day-of-issue cover featuring Jolson
The Jazz Singer, 1927
1922 sheet music

Although best remembered today as the star of the first talking picture, The Jazz Singer (1927), he starred in a series of successful musical films during the 1930s.

Warner Bros.

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American film and entertainment company headquartered at the Warner Bros. Studios complex in Burbank, California, and a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Discovery.

American film and entertainment company headquartered at the Warner Bros. Studios complex in Burbank, California, and a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Discovery.

The Warner Brothers: Albert, Jack, Harry and Sam
Lobby card from Open Your Eyes (1919)
Lobby card from The Beautiful and Damned (1922)
Movie-goers awaiting Don Juan opening at Warners' Theatre
Warner Bros.–First National Studios, Burbank, c. 1928
James Cagney and Joan Blondell in Footlight Parade (1933)
The studio as depicted in the trailer for The Petrified Forest (1936)
Humphrey Bogart in The Petrified Forest (1936)
Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies character Bugs Bunny, the company's official mascot.
The main characters of Animaniacs (logo pictured), Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, are named after the company.
Bette Davis in Now, Voyager (1942)
Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
James Garner and Jack Kelly in Maverick (1957)
Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra appear in a number of Warner Bros. films produced in the early 1960s. Both singers also recorded for Reprise Records, which the studio purchased in 1963.
Following Jack Warner's 1966 year end sale to Seven Arts Productions, the company was known as Warner Bros.-Seven Arts through to 1972
The logo, designed by Saul Bass, used from 1972 to 1984
A panoramic view over today's studio premises
The former Warner Bros. shield logo, which was used from 1993 to 2019, extensively used in films and TV shows until 2021. Currently used for the on-screen logo for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
Gate 4, Warner Bros. Studios, looking south towards the water tower

As a result of their financial problems, Warner Bros. took the next step and released The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson.

Vitaphone

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Sound film system used for feature films and nearly 1,000 short subjects made by Warner Bros. and its sister studio First National from 1926 to 1931.

Sound film system used for feature films and nearly 1,000 short subjects made by Warner Bros. and its sister studio First National from 1926 to 1931.

A Vitaphone projection setup at a 1926 demonstration. Engineer E. B. Craft is holding a soundtrack disc. The turntable, on a massive tripod base, is at lower center.
Premiere of Don Juan in New York City

It had a frequency response of 4300 Hz. Many early talkies, such as The Jazz Singer (1927), used the Vitaphone system.

A still from the 1921 Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, one of the highest-grossing silent films.

Silent film

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Film with no synchronized recorded sound .

Film with no synchronized recorded sound .

A still from the 1921 Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, one of the highest-grossing silent films.
Charlie Chaplin, widely acclaimed as one of the most iconic actors of the silent era, c. undefined 1919
The Horse in Motion, animated from a plate by Eadweard Muybridge, made with an array of cameras set up along a racetrack
Roundhay Garden Scene, which has a running time of just over two seconds, was filmed in 1888. It is believed to be the world's earliest surviving motion-picture film. The elderly lady in black is Sarah Whitley, the mother-in-law of filmmaker Louis Le Prince; she died ten days after this scene was filmed.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) used stylized inter-titles.
Lillian Gish, the "First Lady of the American Cinema", was a leading star in the silent era with one of the longest careers—1912 to 1987.
Cinématographe Lumière at the Institut Lumière, France. Such cameras had no audio recording devices built into the cameras.
A scene from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari starring Friedrich Feher—an example of an amber-tinted film
Price for a hand-colored print of Ben Hur in 1908
A still from Saved from the Titanic (1912), which featured survivors of the disaster. It is now among those considered a lost film.
Lon Chaney (active 1913-1930) was one of the most talented spinet character actors of all time. His unique ability to transform into the most physically grotesque characters earned him the universal name, “Man of a Thousand Faces”.

Early sound films, starting with The Jazz Singer in 1927, were variously referred to as the "talkies", "sound films", or "talking pictures".

Warner in 1955

Jack L. Warner

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Canadian-American film executive, born in Canada, who was the president and driving force behind the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California.

Canadian-American film executive, born in Canada, who was the president and driving force behind the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California.

Warner in 1955
Youngstown, Ohio, c. 1910
Harry Warner – Feb 1919 MPW
Hollywood movie studios, 1922
James Cagney made 38 films with Warner Bros., cementing its position as a major studio
Bette Davis and Errol Flynn in Warner Bros.' The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
The "Warner Bros. Presents" title card from the first wave of color cartoons in the "Looney Tunes" series of cartoon shorts, from October 1942 until May 1947.

As co-head of production at Warner Bros. Studios, he worked with his brother, Sam Warner, to procure the technology for the film industry's first talking picture, The Jazz Singer (1927).

Sam Warner

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American film producer who was the co-founder and chief executive officer of Warner Bros. He established the studio along with his brothers Harry, Albert, and Jack L. Warner.

American film producer who was the co-founder and chief executive officer of Warner Bros. He established the studio along with his brothers Harry, Albert, and Jack L. Warner.

Sam Warner is credited with procuring the technology that enabled Warner Bros. to produce the film industry's first feature-length talking picture, The Jazz Singer.

Crosland in 1921

Alan Crosland

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American stage actor and film director.

American stage actor and film director.

Crosland in 1921
Alan Crosland (standing) telling stories to Myron Selznick and Elaine Hammerstein, 1919

He is noted for having directed the first feature film using spoken dialogue, The Jazz Singer (1927).

American jazz composer, lyricist, and pianist Eubie Blake made an early contribution to the genre's etymology

Jazz

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Music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with its roots in blues and ragtime.

Music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with its roots in blues and ragtime.

American jazz composer, lyricist, and pianist Eubie Blake made an early contribution to the genre's etymology
Albert Gleizes, 1915, Composition for "Jazz" from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Ethel Waters sang "Stormy Weather" at the Cotton Club.
Al Jolson in 1929
Dance in Congo Square in the late 1700s, artist's conception by E. W. Kemble from a century later
In the late 18th-century painting The Old Plantation, African-Americans dance to banjo and percussion.
The blackface Virginia Minstrels in 1843, featuring tambourine, fiddle, banjo and bones
Scott Joplin in 1903
W. C. Handy at 19, 1892
The Bolden Band around 1905
Jelly Roll Morton, in Los Angeles, California, c. 1917 or 1918
The King & Carter Jazzing Orchestra photographed in Houston, Texas, January 1921
Louis Armstrong began his career in New Orleans and became one of jazz's most recognizable performers.
Benny Goodman (1943)
Duke Ellington at the Hurricane Club (1943)
The "classic quintet": Charlie Parker, Tommy Potter, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Max Roach performing at Three Deuces in New York City. Photograph by William P. Gottlieb (August 1947), Library of Congress.
Machito (maracas) and his sister Graciella Grillo (claves)
Dizzy Gillespie, 1955
Mongo Santamaria (1969)
Art Blakey (1973)
John Coltrane, 1963
Peter Brötzmann is a key figure in European free jazz.
Naná Vasconcelos playing the Afro-Brazilian Berimbau
Randy Weston
C pentatonic scale beginning on the I (C pentatonic), IV (F pentatonic), and V (G pentatonic) steps of the scale.
V pentatonic scale over II–V–I chord progression
Fusion trumpeter Miles Davis in 1989
Wynton Marsalis
David Sanborn, 2008
John Zorn performing in 2006
Steve Coleman in Paris, July 2004

The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson is one example of how Jewish Americans were able to bring jazz, music that African Americans developed, into popular culture.

February 1919 photograph

Harry Warner

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American studio executive, one of the founders of Warner Bros., and a major contributor to the development of the film industry.

American studio executive, one of the founders of Warner Bros., and a major contributor to the development of the film industry.

February 1919 photograph

The success of Warner Bros.' early talkie films (The Jazz Singer, The Lights of New York, The Singing Fool and The Terror) catapulted the studio into the ranks of the major studios.