05/28/2015  
Inside the Court of Henry VIII on DVD Jun 16Infected on DVD & Digital Video Jun 2See You in Valhalla on DVD May 26HeForShe Campaign Features Star-Studded Cannes ConversationDespite The Gods on DVD May 19The Gunman on Digital HD Jun 16 & Blu-ray Combo Jun 30So Bright Is the View on DVD May 26

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

'Jonny Quest' hitting the big screen...
How Miley Cyrus Helped Get Grace and Frankie, Your New ...
Carrie Underwood Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Her 'Am...
Johnny Depp could face up to 10 Years in Prison...
Jon Stewart's big secret: Even Fox News might cheer 'Da...
Inside the Court of Henry VIII on DVD Jun 16...
Anne Meara Dies: Actress, Ben Stiller's Mother and Jerr...
'The Voice' Winner Tessanne Chin sings 'I Will Always L...
Infected on DVD & Digital Video Jun 2...
See You in Valhalla on DVD May 26...



Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Jolson Story (1946)

"Settle back folks. You ain't heard nothin' yet."
- Al Jolson (Larry Parks)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: December 07, 2003

Stars: Larry Parks, Evelyn Keyes, William Demarest, Bill Goodwin
Other Stars: Ludwig Donath, Tamara Shayne, Scotty Beckett, John Alexander, Edwin Maxwell
Director: Alfred E. Green

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (blackface minstrel shows)
Run Time: 02h:09m:26s
Release Date: October 21, 2003
UPC: 043396009011
Genre: musical


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- BBB- D

DVD Review

Although he's remembered today only as the star of a mostly-forgotten talkie called The Jazz Singer, at one time Al Jolson was one of the biggest stars in the world and enormously popular. This classic biopic offers a selection of several dozen Jolson classic songs, tacked together by a mostly fictional "biography."

Young Asa Yoelson (Scotty Beckett) is the singing son of the synagogue cantor (Ludwig Donath). When burlesque musical comic Steve Martin (William Demarest) hears Asa, he convinces Asa's parents to let him go on tour with Steve, under the name Al Jolson. Before long, the adult Al (Larry Parks) moves on to the minstrel shows of Lew Dockstader, where he sings southern songs in blackface. Through brashness and stage appeal, Jolson is soon the toast of Broadway. Upon starring in the first popular talking picture, Jolson rides a gigantic wave of success, but feels an emptiness that can be filled only by budding hoofer Julie Benson (Evelyn Keyes).

As is the case with any Hollywood biopic, any resemblance to the facts surrounding Jolson's actual story are strictly coincidental. What makes it thoroughly enjoyable in any event is the way Parks captures Jolson's appealing stage presence and charisma. His Best Actor Oscar® was richly deserved, even if he is lip-synching to the actual Jolson during the songs. He gives the character a vivid portrayal that's both credible and much larger than life. One truly believes that this character could become a beloved performer on stage and screen. Demarest (best known as gruff Uncle Charley from My Three Sons) is a good deal of fun to watch, especially as he struggles to get Al to devote as much time to his private life as his public performing. Evelyn Keyes, on the other hand, is quite bland and does little beyond smile and look pretty. Ludwig Donath and Tamara Shayne as Al's parents take the Jewish parent stereotype way over the top, though it's all done good-heartedly.

More offensive to modern audiences will be the frequent blackface performances. Though these are representative of Jolson's act for many years, they're a tough sell today and may require some careful explaining for younger viewers. It's a credit to Parks' talents, however, that these sequences aren't as patently offensive as they could have been, primarily through the sheer verve that he puts into the performances.

One of the principal themes here is that Jolson lived to sing, and there's plenty of singing to be had. In fact, every chapter stop represents another song, and almost all of them are terrific. The picture gives Jolson way too much credit (did you know, for instance, that he invented jazz? Neither did I). But all the misrepresentation can't defeat the quality of the songs (and the odd warbling voice of Jolson), or Parks' joyful performance. The ending is kind of surprising for a sentimental piece such as this one, so despite the ton of showbiz clichés there are still some surprises to be had here.

The songs are as follows:

Let Me Sing and I'm Happy
On the Banks of the Wabash
Ave Maria
When You Were Sweet Sixteen
After the Ball
By the Light of the Silvery Moon
Blue Bell
Ma Blushin' Rosie
I Want a Girl Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad
My Mammy
I'm Sitting on Top of the World
You Made Me Love You
Swanee
Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye
The Spaniard Who Blighted My Life
April Showers
California Here I Come
Liza
There's a Rainbow Round My Shoulder
Medley
About a Quarter to Nine
The Anniversary Song
Waiting for the Robert E Lee
Rock-a-Bye Your Baby
April Showers (reprise)


Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The Technicolor original full-frame picture looks pretty good overall. There are a moderate number of colored splotches, indicating dirt on one of the Technicolor strips, but I didn't find it too distracting for the most part. The color is excellent, though not as eye-popping as Technicolor of this period can be. Black levels are very good and video noise is minimal. Details are sharp and crisp without excessively obtrusive edge enhancement.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Although the keepcase cover states that the audio track is in mono, it is in fact the stereo mix created for the 1954 re-release. Directionality is very pronounced, in the manner of early Cinemascope sound (even though it was full frame). Hiss varies from shot to shot, apparently as the various recordings were pieced together to form the audio track. Sometimes it's hardly perceptible and at others it's glaring. The music for the most part has very good range and Jolson's singing sounds terrific, with good presence.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Japanese with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Lost Horizon, Pal Joey
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Columbia skimps on the extras, with trailers for Lost Horizon (with no footage from the film), and the conversational Frank Sinatra trailer for Pal Joey. But that's it.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

Larry Parks gives a heck of a performance in this loosey-goosey biopic, liberally larded with classic Jolson performances. The story's a bit ridiculous but the total package is hugely entertaining, with an infectious goodwill that will amuse even the crankiest soul. Alas, not much for extras.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

movie, animation, jonny quest, action adventure, robert rodriquez, television, netflix, grace and frankie, miley cyrus, jane fonda, lily tomlin, music, carrie underwood, american idol, memorial day, may 25, 10th anniversary, celebrity, johnny depp, australia, yorkies, quarantine laws, the daily show, comedy channel, jon stewart, stephen colbert, new york times, documentary, comedian, anne meara, jerry stiller, ben stiller, sex in the city, law & order: special victims, memorial day concert, tessanne chin, nick fradiani, sci-fi, drama, a very murray christmas, bill murray, sophia coppola, george clooney, amy poehler, chris rock, paul shaffer, rashida jones, the late show, david letterman, ed sullivan theater, taco bell, dancing with the stars, abc, rumer willis, riker lynch, noah galloway, val chmerkovskiy, mile high club, plastic surgery, saturday night live, louis c.k., racism, israel-palestine, movies, cannes, jackie, jackie kennedy, darren aronofsky, pablo larrain, pitch perfect 2, rebel wilson, super fun night, derek hough, nastia liukin, fox, jennifer lopez, harry connick jr., keith urban, ryan seacrest, gary newman, daytime soap, general hospital, anthony geary, genie francis, frank valenti, mad max: fury road, mel gibson, george miller, tom hardy, hugh keays-byrne, charlize theron, the cw, arrow, the vampire diaries, supernatural, the originals, jane the virgin, the flash, the 100, izombie, reign, beauty and the beast, action, afc football championship game, jim mcnally, john jastremski, tom brady, bill belichick, prince, baltimore, rally 4 peace, freddie gray, 3rdeyegirl, metropolitan museum of art gala, kim kardashian, chloe sevigny, john paul gaultier, georgia may jagger, sarah jessica parker, rihanna

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store