Blackface to Blacklist by Doug McClelland

By Doug McClelland

The Jolson tale, a landmark Hollywood musical biography, introduced has-been blackface singer Al Jolson one in every of convey enterprise' nice comebacks, made a celeb of Larry Parks, the younger "B" motion picture actor who performed him, and spawned a sequel. For the 1st time, McClelland tells the tale of the way those motion pictures have been made. for that reason, within the anti-Communist weather of 1951 the USA, Larry Parks's profession used to be destroyed whilst he admitted he were a Communist. the tale of Parks's downfall is a big component to the publication, as is the photograph portrayal of that darkish interval in American heritage. With biographical profiles of all major members to the Jolson sagas and plenty of infrequent photographs.

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Page 18 Considering the great success of the previous film, surprising, too, is the budget on Jolson Sings Again which looks, at best, half that of The Jolson Story, with virtually no new production numbers. Of course, by 1949, movie musicals in general had become more modest, or restrained, due to two factors: 1) a growing "sophistication" among moviegoers and especially critics who, now impressed by European "neo-realism" and socially significant themes, looked down on the spectacular Busby Berkeley-type production numbers as tasteless and fantastic Stone Age relics they eventually would capitulate; and 2) a pervasive tightening of film studio pursestrings necessitated by increasing loss of audience to television.

Barbara Hale has one of her best screen roles as the quietly influential second (actually No. 4) Mrs. Jolson, a somewhat more reasonable and understanding helpmate than the "No. 1" portrayed in The Jolson Story. Raven-tressed, with dark blue eyes and a peaches-and-cream complexion under vivid Technicolor scrutiny, she further parlays a charmingly bogus Arkansas drawl and a pertly smiling, down-home common sense attitude into a winning contribution. Her blithe presence does much to buoy both the mood and the characters of Jolson Sings Again.

Enrico Caruso, opera's foremost tenor, had just sung "Vesti la giubba," inspiring bravos amid thunderous applause. " DOUG McCLELLAND SPRING, 1986 References 1. Life magazine. 2. The Village Voice. Page 1 "The Jolson Story": A Close-Up Joe Gillis: You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big. Norma Desmond: I am big it's the pictures that got small. " The Jolson Story retains its melodic charm and brio today, but its impact on 1946 audiences unless one was there can only be imagined. There had been film biographies of musical personalities before fading legend Al Jolson even had supporting roles in a couple of them: Swanee River (1939), in which Don Ameche portrayed Stephen Foster; and Rhapsody in Blue (1945), introducing Robert Alda as George Gershwin.

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