Sun, 19 Jan 2014

The Jazz Singer Was The First Talking Film In The USA

Nowadays, it's hard to imagine a movie without sound. Movies are shown all-year round in cinemas and they are also easily accessible through the internet. The movie, as we know it, has become an integral part of the way people entertain themselves. However, this is not always the way people watched films.

The Jazz Singer Is A 1927 American Musical Film

An important change in film making history occurred in the late 1920s. The 1920s marked the decline of silent films and the rise of "talkies", or sound films. While the technique and technology to not only record image but also record sound has been already used in various cinemas in Paris, The Jazz Singer was the first talking film in 1927 in the USA.

Prior to this, cinemas would just show a silent film wherein the sparse dialogue between the characters are transcribed and are flashed on the screen, creating a slightly disjointed experience. The sound effects, if it can be called that, are a performance by a live band who is accompanying the film with their music which is often improvised.

Directed By Alan Crosland

The Jazz Singer is a film directed by Alan Crosland and produced by the Warner Bros, starring Al Jonson. The movie is based on a play by Samson Raphaelson, "Day of Atonement". Jonson, who plays the main character of the musical, sang six songs for the film.

The production company had used the Vitaphone sound-on-disc system to synchronize and to produce the music in the film. It was a highly difficult movie to play. Unlike today, movies back then had to be operated by a projectionist who had to deftly maneuver 15 reels of film and 15 discs of record (in the case of The Jazz Singer).

Each musical number in their own separate reel had to be perfectly timed with the Vitaphone records. A single error on the part of the projectionist would have resulted in embarrassment for the production company.

The Jazz Singer Success

The Jazz Singer was the first talking film and the response for it was positive. It was both a commercial and critical success. The film which cost $422,000 dollars to create had grossed $3.9 million in the USA. The audience who had watched the film had clapped at each of the musical renditions in the film.

Because The Jazz Singer was the first talking film, it has spurned a legacy and made a mark in film-making history. It has three remakes and has been parodied several times. In fact, the Simpsons' episode, "Like Father, Like Clown", is based on the storyline of the main character and his father in the film; it is also referenced in the 2006 animated film, Happy Feet.

The film is preserved in the U.S. Library of Congress's National Film Registry in 1996 and is listed as one of the "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" films in the history of the USA. The American Film Institute has also voted The Jazz Singer as number 90 of the best American films of all time.

The Jazz Singer may have been showed way back in 1927 but its legacy lives on until today. 80 years after its premiere, a three-disc DVD edition with supplemental material such as Jolson's A Plantation Act was released and made available to the public.

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