Written by FilmRadar’s Karie Bible
If you love Hollywood history, this DVD is a must-have item for your home library. The Jazz Singer kicked off the sound revolution with a bang. It wasn’t exactly the first “all talking picture,” but it was the first silent with talking sequences that worked and ignited the public’s interest.
I’ve seen some other (and even earlier) silents with “talking” sequences, but they always feel very awkward. It is almost like the minute the sound and dialogue started, someone threw on the brakes and the film just came to a screeching halt. The Jazz Singer feels like it is hitting its peak when the sound comes in, and Al Jolson is the main reason this film works so well. There is something very electrifying about him.
This Three-Disc Deluxe Edition set features a new digital transfer for the film with restored picture elements and a refurbished soundtrack. It looks and sounds fantastic! There are also several Al Jolson shorts. Disc 2 of this collection features a wonderful feature-length documentary called “The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk.” It provides fascinating insight into the sound revolution and the impact it made on the film industry and on the movie-going public. Disc 3 contains a whopping 3-1/2 hours of rare, historic Vitaphone shorts. Many of these feature Vaudeville performers and in many cases it is the only surviving record of their work. If you’ve ever seen the Vitaphone programs at UCLA, then you know how wonderful and entertaining these shorts can be. I’m really hoping that more and more of the Vitaphones will get a DVD release in the future. The box set also includes a set of black and white postcards and three booklets about the film. The packaging is very nice and really well done.
Warner Bros. home video has done a first class job with all of the materials and they are hands down the best studio when it comes to releasing classic titles.