The Singing Fool

Overview

Popular film lore has it that The Jazz Singer was the film that established the talkie as the pre-eminent film medium in 1927. But it was Al Jolson's follow-up film, The Singing Fool that actually introduced the sound film to the general film-going population of the United States and it was the popularity of The Singing Fool that paved the way for the wide-acceptance of sound features. Jolson plays Al Stone, a singing waiter at Blackie Joe's cafe, who writes a hit song and sky-rockets to success as a Broadway ...
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Overview

Popular film lore has it that The Jazz Singer was the film that established the talkie as the pre-eminent film medium in 1927. But it was Al Jolson's follow-up film, The Singing Fool that actually introduced the sound film to the general film-going population of the United States and it was the popularity of The Singing Fool that paved the way for the wide-acceptance of sound features. Jolson plays Al Stone, a singing waiter at Blackie Joe's cafe, who writes a hit song and sky-rockets to success as a Broadway headliner. Looking ahead to unlimited success, Al falls in love with scheming golddigger Molly Winton Josephine Dunn, whom he marries. When Molly gives him a son, Sonny Boy Davey Lee, Al is beside himself with love for his cutey-pie offspring. But when Molly deserts him for small-time gangster John Perry Reed Howes and takes Sonny Boy with her, Al is heartbroken. His spirit shattered, Al becomes a bum and, after a time, regains his singing waiter job at Blackie Joe's. Back at the dive, Grace Betty Bronson, a cigarette girl secretly in love with Al, convinces him to make a comeback. Al struggles and regains his confidence and hits the stage like a trouper -- even when he hears that his beloved Sonny Boy has died in a hospital ward.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Enormously popular in its day, The Singing Fool has dated badly over the ensuing decades, but it still is worth watching for reasons other than its historical significance. Technically, of course, the film is almost unbearably crude, which makes it difficult for audiences used to clear, crisp sound and inventive cinematography to sit through it. The script is mawkish and manipulative, filled with soap opera set-ups that today are overly obvious and unconvincing, and neither the dialogue nor the title cards contains much of substance. At 105 minutes, it's too long for the story it has to tell, and Lloyd Bacon's direction is static and uninteresting. (To be fair, Bacon was badly limited by the immobility of the new sound cameras.) Fortunately, there's still Al Jolson and some memorable songs, including "I'm Sitting on top of the World." Viewed through contemporary eyes, Jolson tries too hard and over-emotes at the drop of a hat; yet there's still something compelling about him. One watches him in Fool and is aware that much of what he is doing is technically poor, but it holds a real fascination nonetheless. This is especially true during "Sonny Boy," a song with which Jolson is forever associated. In its time, this number (sung three times in the film) moved audiences to tears, whereas today the result is more apt to be laughter; yet it's impossible to not be impressed by Jolson's unselfconscious commitment to selling himself in every note. The star's vitality and overpowering chutzpah make for a unique viewing experience.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/21/2009
  • UPC: 883316173930
  • Original Release: 1928
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: B&W / Pan & Scan
  • Time: 1:45:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 37,332

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Al Jolson Al
Betty Bronson Grace
Josephine Dunn Molly
Reed Howes John Perry
Edward Martindel Marcus
Arthur Houseman Blackie Joe
Davey Lee Sonny Boy
Robert E. O'Connor Cafe Manager
Helen Lynch
Technical Credits
Lloyd Bacon Director
C. Graham Baker Screenwriter
Graham V.C. Baker Screenwriter
Ralph Dawson Editor
Byron Haskin Cinematographer
Joe Jackson Screenwriter
Harold McCord Editor
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