The Jazz Singer

The Jazz Singer


The Jazz Singer was the first full-length talking motion picture, or “talkie,” with wide exposure throughout the U.S. and the world. Al Jolson played the son of a Jewish cantor, Jack Robin, who dreams of becoming a jazz singer. Jack defies his father and disguises himself as a black man to become famous. With the addition of sound, this motion picture amazed audiences and revolutionized the film industry.

The Jazz Singer Across America

    The film industry exploded in the 1920s. Going to a movie changed from casual nickelodeon-style venues to grand theaters like the Roxy Theater in New York City. When The Jazz Singer premiered in October 1927, “talkies” or talking pictures transformed the motion picture industry. For local towns, movies opened more like a play, and were seen over several days before moving on to different theaters. Unlike today, where a movie will show for weeks and months, The Jazz Singer went across the country, shown in cities like Sioux Falls, Idaho, from July 30 to August 4, 1928, in Seattle from July 1-2, 1928, and at the Baker Grand Theater, Mississippi, from November 19-21, 1928. These talking pictures created a realistic film experience, and the usual accompanying orchestras only added to the excitement. Going to The Jazz Singer in 1928 gave one a feeling of the screen coming to life, and for many towns like Sioux Falls, Idaho, it was “the greatest talking picture ever produced.”

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