Why Did Negroes Love Al Jolson and The Jazz Singer?: Melodrama, Blackface and Cosmopolitan Theatrical Culture

  title={Why Did Negroes Love Al Jolson and The Jazz Singer?: Melodrama, Blackface and Cosmopolitan Theatrical Culture},
  author={Charles Musser},
  journal={Film History: An International Journal},
  pages={196 - 222}
  • Charles Musser
  • Published 11 September 2011
  • Art
  • Film History: An International Journal
This essay offers a reassessment of The Jazz Singer (1927) and Al Jolson by challenging several different lines of persistent criticism: its lack of artistic merit, its effacement of Jewish identity and its racist depictions in light of Jolson's use of blackface. Rather than a failed adaptation of Samson Raphaelson's play of the same name, the picture innovatively reworked both that play and E.A. Dupont's film The Ancient Law (Das Alte Gesetz, 1923), further placing it within a framework of… 

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