The Jazz Singer
This second screen adaptation of the Samson Rafaelson play The Jazz Singer is better than the first, though not as historically important (the early Jazz Singer, it will be recalled, sparked the "talkie revolution" way back in 1927). Danny Thomas assumes the old Al Jolson role as the cantor's son-turned-cabaret entertainer. As Jerry Golding (Thomas) scales the heights of show business, he breaks the heart of his father (Eduard Franz), who'd hoped that Jerry would follow in his footsteps. Sorrowfully, Cantor Golding reads the Kaddish service, indicating that, so far as he is concerned, his son is dead. A tearful reconciliation (and a more upbeat denouement than was found in the original film) occurs when Jerry dutifully returns to sing the "Kol Nidre" in his ailing father's absence. Peggy Lee co-stars as Judy Lane, a musical comedy entertainer who falls in love with Jerry, while Mildred Dunnock and Alex Gerry do what they can with the stereotyped roles of Jerry's mother and uncle, respectively. This 1952 Jazz Singer has its faults, but it is vastly superior to the empty-headed 1980 Neil Diamond/Laurence Olivier remake.