Say It with Songs

Say It with Songs

Director: Lloyd Bacon

Cast: Al Jolson, Davey Lee, Marian Nixon

     
 
On the strength of his previous hits The Jazz Singer (1927) and The Singing Fool (1928), Al Jolson was Hollywood's hottest star in 1929. Jolson's cinematic offering for that year was Say It With Songs, a characteristic blend of music, comedy and treacly sentiment. The star is cast as Joe Lane, a radio star who hits it big then begins neglecting

Overview

On the strength of his previous hits The Jazz Singer (1927) and The Singing Fool (1928), Al Jolson was Hollywood's hottest star in 1929. Jolson's cinematic offering for that year was Say It With Songs, a characteristic blend of music, comedy and treacly sentiment. The star is cast as Joe Lane, a radio star who hits it big then begins neglecting his wife Katherine (Marian Nixon) and his dewy-eyed son "Little Pal" (Davey Lee, Jolson's co-star in Singing Fool) in favor of the gaming tables. Joe is brought down to earth when his manager and "best friend" begins putting the moves on Katherine. Accidentally killing the manager in a fight, Joe heads off to prison, extracting a promise from Katherine that she will wait for him. During his incarceration, however, Katherine makes the acquaintance of a handsome surgeon (John Bowers), and it looks as if their friendship will blossom into love. When "Little Pal" is struck by a car on the same day that Joe is paroled, the young surgeon saves the kid's life, thereby bringing Joe and Katherine back together again. A few amusing opening bits aside (most of them Jewish-dialect jokes, a Jolson specialty), Say It With Songs is awash with bathos, making the film quite a chore to sit through today. It cannot be denied, however, that Al Jolson is a dynamic presence, especially when belting out such standards as "Back In Your Own Backyard" and "Little Pal." Long unavailable for reappraisal, Say It With Songs was reissued on laserdisc in the late 1980s through the Herculean efforts of the Al Jolson Society.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The advent of sound threw the motion picture industry into a turmoil, as each studio (and its directors, writers, etc.) tried to figure out how this new component should fit into the movies. The most common method was to imitate what had already been done, meaning copy The Jazz Singer and The Singing Fool. Say it With Songs does just that, almost slavishly so. But the bloom is very much off the peach, and even the presence of powerhouse Al Jolson can't rescue this offering from its arch sentimentality, unconvincing storyline, weak jokes and sometimes painful dialogue. (On the positive side, Jolson manages to get through the film without appearing in blackface, a definite plus for modern day audiences.) Part of what makes the film so bad is how incredible some of its plot points are. Unfortunate incident is piled upon unfortunate incident until they become laughable, and the image of Jolson cheering up hardened criminals with a drippy song is ludicrous. The score, with the exception of "I'm in Seventh Heaven," is undistinguished. All of this leaves Jolson, and how much a viewer enjoys the film will depend upon his appreciation of Jolson's personality and talents -- but even his most ardent admirers will find that this is not one of his better performances.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/21/2009
UPC:
0883316173954
Original Release:
1929
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Time:
1:35:00
Sales rank:
45,197

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