Friday, May 6, 2011

Movie Moments: #24

The Jazz Singer (1927)

Movie Quote:

Jack Robin: Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothin' yet! Wait a minute, I tell ya! You ain't heard nothin'! You wanna hear "Toot, Toot, Tootsie"? All right, hold on, hold on...

[walks back to one of the band members]

Jack Robin: Lou, listen. Play "Toot, Toot, Tootsie", three chorus, you understand. In the third chorus, I whistle. Now give it to 'em hard and heavy, go right ahead.

[band starts playing]


• The above quote comes from the famous 1927 Al Jolson flick The Jazz Singer, now dubbed the world’s first talkie.

• See and hear the words, with the song Toot Toot Tootsie at:

• There had been films before The Jazz Singer that has included musical numbers and sounds, such as street sounds and some had featured dialogue but these were only short films. Even The Jazz Singer was intended to have only synchronised music, not speech. However Jolson departed from the script and ad libbed his trademark comment from his stage act, “you ain’t heard nothing yet”, as the band began to play Toot Toot Tootsie. Director Sam Warner realised the potential and not only left it in but jigged the movie so as to add more synchronised spoken sequences. Sadly, he died of a mastoid infection on the day of the film’s release.

• The movie is mostly silent with about a dozen sound musical sequences and some synchronised dialogue sequences, but it is today renowned as the first feature length motion picture with synchronised dialogue, its release marking the beginning of the talkies.

• The line – “you ain’t heard nothing yet” – had developed from something said by Jolson at a November 1918 gala concert celebrating the end of World War 1. Whilst the crowd was still applauding the previous performance of celebrated tenor Enrico Caruso, Jolson ran onstage and somewhat insultingly exclaimed “Folks, you ain’t heard nothing yet.” The following year, he recorded the song "You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet.”

• Given that tomorrow is Mother’s Day, it is appropriate (that's why I selected this Movie Moment) to include a link to Jolson singing "Mammy" to his mother, from The Jazz Singer, in the now politically incorrect blackface:

• One final thing: Jolson sometimes said that he dropped to one knee in Mammy to relieve pressure from on ingrown toenail and that thereafter he left it in his performances. Others feel that this is spin, that he simply stole the idea from another performer and capitalised on it.

And a Happy Mother's Day to all the Mums reading this.

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