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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2018 by Carl Bennett
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The
Jazz Singer

(1927)

 

Reputedly the first sound film (but we know better, don’t we?).

Warner Home Video
2013 Blu-ray Disc edition

The Jazz Singer (1927), black & white, 89 minutes, not rated.

Warner Home Video, unknown catalog number,
unknown UPC number, unknown ISBN number.
Three single-sided, dual-layered, Region A Blu-ray Discs, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in pillarboxed 16:9 (1920 x 1080 pixels) progressive scan MPEG-4 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 1.0 mono and 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, French and Spanish language subtitles, chapter stops; die-cut cardboard disc pages in BD book, $34.99.
Release date: 8 January 2013.
Country of origin: USA
This three-disc Blu-ray Disc set includes what must be the best-available edition of the film on home video presented in a digital transfer from restored film elements with a digitally-remastered soundtrack from original Vitaphone sound discs.

The set’s supplementary materials include: audio commentary by film historians Ron Hutchinson and Vince Giordano, Al Jolson film trailers, two rarely-seen Technicolor excerpts from Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929) most of which is presumed lost, more than 3-1/2 hours of rare Vitaphone comedy and music shorts including The Voice From the Screen (1926) introducing Vitaphone sound film technology, Al Jolson in 'A Plantation Act' (1926), Bernado DePace, “The Wizard of the Mandolin” (1927), Elsie Janis in a Vaudeville Act “Behind the Lines” (1927), Hazel Green and Company (1927), The Night Court (1927), The Police Quartette (1927), Van and Schneck “The Pennant Winning Battery of Songland” (1927), Adele Rowland, “Stories in Song” (1928), Dick Rich and His “Melodious Monarchs” (1928), The Foy Family in “Chips of the Old Block” (1928) featuring six of the grown-up Seven Little Foys, Gus Arnheim and His Ambassadors (1928), The Ingenues, “The Band Beautiful” (1928), Ray Mayer and Edith Evans in “When East Meets West” (1928), the deadpan comedy duo Shaw & Lee, “The Beau Brummels” (1928), Stoll, Flynn & Company, The “Jazzmania Quintet” (1928), Baby Rose Marie, the Child Wonder (1929), Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields (1929), Burns & Allen in “Lambchops (1929), Ethel Sinclair and Marge La Marr, “At the Seashore” (1929), Green’s Twentieth Century Faydetts (1929), My Bag o’ Trix (1929) starring Trixie Friganza, Paul Tremaine and His Aristocrats (1929), The Roof Garden Revue (1929), Sol Violinsky, “The Eccentric Entertainer” (1929), Joe Frisco in “The Happy Hottentots” (1930), plus cartoons and short films Finding His Voice (1929) produced by Max Fleischer, I Love to Sing (1936) directed by Tex Avery, Hollywood Handicap (MGM short, with an Al Jolson appearance), A Day at Santa Anita (Technicolor Warner Bros. short with Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler cameos), and short film An Intimate Dinner in Celebration of Warner Bros. Silver Jubilee, The Voice That Thrilled the World (Warner Bros. short about sound), Okay for Sound (1946) celebrating Vitaphone’s 20th anniversary, When Talkies Were Young (1955). In addition, a 1947 Lux Radio Theater radio broadcast starring Al Jolson (audio only), and an all-new feature-length documentary The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Warner Home Video
2007 DVD edition

The Jazz Singer (1927), black & white, 89 minutes, not rated.

Warner Home Video, 79889,
UPC 0-12569-79889-2, ISBN 1-4198-5622-7.
Three single-sided, dual-layered, Region 1 NTSC DVD discs, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, 5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 1.0 mono and 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, French and Spanish language subtitles, 20 chapter stops; three plastic trays in cardboard trifold in cardboard slipcase, $39.98.
Release date: 16 October 2007.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 9 / audio: 8 / additional content: 7 / overall: 8.

This three-disc DVD set includes the best-available edition of the film on DVD presented in an all-new digital transfer from restored film elements with a digitally-remastered soundtrack from original Vitaphone sound discs. The 35mm source print is excellent, with a few inserts from a very-good 35mm duplicate positive. There is a sprinkling of light speckling and dust, with a small number of sections of print damage. Overall, the results are excellent.

The set’s supplementary materials include: audio commentary by film historians Ron Hutchinson and Vince Giordano, Al Jolson film trailers, two rarely-seen Technicolor excerpts from Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929) most of which is presumed lost, more than 3-1/2 hours of rare Vitaphone comedy and music shorts including The Voice From the Screen (1926) introducing Vitaphone sound film technology, Al Jolson in 'A Plantation Act' (1926), Bernado DePace, “The Wizard of the Mandolin” (1927), Elsie Janis in a Vaudeville Act “Behind the Lines” (1927), Hazel Green and Company (1927), The Night Court (1927), The Police Quartette (1927), Van and Schneck “The Pennant Winning Battery of Songland” (1927), Adele Rowland, “Stories in Song” (1928), Dick Rich and His “Melodious Monarchs” (1928), The Foy Family in “Chips of the Old Block” (1928) featuring six of the grown-up Seven Little Foys, Gus Arnheim and His Ambassadors (1928), The Ingenues, “The Band Beautiful” (1928), Ray Mayer and Edith Evans in “When East Meets West” (1928), the deadpan comedy duo Shaw & Lee, “The Beau Brummels” (1928), Stoll, Flynn & Company, The “Jazzmania Quintet” (1928), Baby Rose Marie, the Child Wonder (1929), Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields (1929), Burns & Allen in “Lambchops (1929), Ethel Sinclair and Marge La Marr, “At the Seashore” (1929), Green’s Twentieth Century Faydetts (1929), My Bag o’ Trix (1929) starring Trixie Friganza, Paul Tremaine and His Aristocrats (1929), The Roof Garden Revue (1929), Sol Violinsky, “The Eccentric Entertainer” (1929), Joe Frisco in “The Happy Hottentots” (1930), plus cartoons and short films Finding His Voice (1929) produced by Max Fleischer, I Love to Sing (1936) directed by Tex Avery, Hollywood Handicap (MGM short, with an Al Jolson appearance), A Day at Santa Anita (Technicolor Warner Bros. short with Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler cameos), and short film An Intimate Dinner in Celebration of Warner Bros. Silver Jubilee, The Voice That Thrilled the World (Warner Bros. short about sound), Okay for Sound (1946) celebrating Vitaphone’s 20th anniversary, When Talkies Were Young (1955). In addition, a 1947 Lux Radio Theater radio broadcast starring Al Jolson (audio only), and an all-new feature-length documentary The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk.

Collector's Edition bonus printed items include a booklet with vintage document reproductions and DVD features guide, souvenir program book reproduction, behind-the-scenes photo cards, lobby card reproductions, and a reproduction of a post-premiere telegram from Al Jolson to Jack L. Warner.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Unknown company
200? DVD edition

The Jazz Singer (1927), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Unknown company, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, single-layered?, Region 2? PAL? DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono? sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, unknown suggested retail price.
Release date: 200?.
Country of origin: England?
This unknown DVD edition appeared on eBay, and it is unknown whether it is a budget edition transferred from a 16mm print or a quality edition from 35mm. At any rate, why would you want this edition when the high-quality Warner Home Video editions are available?

North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
 
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