This Day in History – October 6th, 1927

On this day in 1927 the release of a new motion picture called The Jazz Singer heralded the commercial ascendance of the “talkies” and the decline of the silent film era.

The_Jazz_Singer_1927_PosterThe Jazz Singer was the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences, directed by Alan Crosland and produced by Warner Bros. with its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system, the movie stars Al Jolson, who performs six songs. The film is based on The Day of Atonement, a play by Samson Raphaelson.

The film depicts the fictional story of Jakie Rabinowitz, a young man who defies the traditions of his devout Jewish family. After singing popular tunes in a beer garden he is punished by his father, a cantor, prompting Jakie to run away from home. Some years later, now calling himself Jack Robin, he has become a talented jazz singer. He attempts to build a career as an entertainer but his professional ambitions ultimately come into conflict with the demands of his home and heritage.

Darryl F. Zanuck won the Special Academy Award for producing the film, and it was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Engineering Effects. In 1996, The Jazz Singer was selected for preservation in the U.S. Library of Congress’s National Film Registry of “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” motion pictures. In 1998, the film was chosen in voting conducted by the American Film Institute as one of the best American films of all time, ranking at number ninety.

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