The Jazz Singer (1927)

/ Leave a comment
The Jazz Singer (1927)

The Jazz Singer (1927). 96 minutes. Directed by Alan Crosland. Starring Al Jolson (as Jakie Rabinowitz/Jack Robin), Warner Oland (as Cantor Rabinowitz), Eugenie Besserer (as Sara Rabinowitz), May McAvoy (as Mary Dale), Otto Lederer (as Moisha Yudelson), Richard Tucker (as Harry Lee), Bobby Gordon (as Jakie Rabinowitz at age 13), and Yossele Rosenblatt (as himself).

It occurred to me recently as I was watching The Jazz Singer that I had seen two of its musical sequences before: the famous “My Mammy” number that Al Jolson sings in blackface, of course, but also the “Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goo’ Bye)” performance. The latter is shown playing on a television in the movie Goodfellas (1990) when federal agents arrive to search the home of Karen Hill (played by Lorraine Bracco). Karen’s husband Henry is a gangster, and the family home is frequently raided, but Karen has become inured to the presence of the agents. When they show up on this particular occasion, she … Read the rest

All This, and Heaven Too (1940)

/ 1 Comment
All This, and Heaven Too (1940)

All This, and Heaven Too (1940). 141 minutes. Directed by Anatole Litvak. Starring Bette Davis (as Henriette Deluzy-Desportes), Charles Boyer (as Charles, Duke de Praslin), Barbara O’Neil (as Francoise Sebastiani de Praslin), June Lockhart (as Isabelle de Choiseul-Praslin), Virginia Weidler (as Louise de Choiseul-Praslin), Ann E. Todd (as Berthe de Choiseul-Praslin), Richard Nichols (as Reynald de Choiseul-Praslin), Jeffrey Lynn (as Rev. Henry Martyn Field), Harry Davenport (as Pierre), Montagu Love (as Horace Sebastiani), Helen Westley (as Mme. LeMaire), and George Coulouris (as Charpentier). Based on the novel by Rachel Field. Music by Max Steiner.

All This, and Heaven Too is about a couple that is simultaneously both having an affair and not having an affair. The lovers in question, governess Henriette Deluzy-Desportes and her employer, Charles, Duke de Praslin, never utter the words “I love you” to each other, and they appear to have no physical relationship. You may be tempted to think that such a story would not be … Read the rest

Dumbo (1941)

/ Leave a comment
Dumbo (1941)

Dumbo (1941). 64 minutes. Directed by Ben Sharpsteen (supervising director). Starring Edward Brophy (as Timothy Q. Mouse), Verna Felton (as Elephant Matriarch), Cliff Edwards (as Jim Crow), Herman Bing (as the Ringmaster), Margaret Wright (as Casey Junior), and Sterling Holloway (as Mr. Stork). With the Hall Johnson Choir (as Crow Chorus) and the King’s Men (as Roustabout Chorus). Music by Frank Churchill and Oliver Wallace. Produced by Walt Disney.

I first saw Dumbo when I was very young, along with a slew of other Disney movies, but it was Michael Wilmington’s article on it in The American Animated Cartoon: A Critical Anthology that really made me think of it as a work of art. Wilmington argues that Dumbo is Disney’s finest achievement, both in terms of its visual artistry and its storytelling, and when I viewed it recently, I had to admit that I was astonished by both its innovative style and its maturity. Given that its protagonist Dumbo never … Read the rest