American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre Presents...
Making Movie History for Over 80 Years!

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Produced by: Richard Halpern, David Greim, Michelle Malik with in house coordination by Margot Gerber..
Special Thanks to: UCLA Film and Television Archive; Ronnee Sass/WARNER HOME VIDEO; Marilee Womack/WARNER BROS.; Suzanne Leroy & Shirley Couch/SONY REPERTORY; INTERNATIONAL ENTERTAINMENT ENTERPRISES.

 

SOLD OUT SCREENINGS: There will be a waiting line for Sold Out screenings. Tickets often become available at the door the night of an event.

Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.

 

 

All guests are subject to availability. The Cinematheque will offer a refund due to guest cancellations only IF the refund transaction is complete PRIOR to the start of the show.

Tickets available 30 days in advance. Tickets are $10 general admission unless noted otherwise.
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The American Cinematheque is a non-profit 501 (C) (3) organization.
The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Randall Michelson. Detail of Egyptian Theatre Ceiling.

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<<< October 5 - 7,  2007 >>>

You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet: A Tribute to Al Jolson on The 80th Anniversary of THE JAZZ SINGER

Co-Presented with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

 

Discuss this series with other film fans on:
http://www.myspace.com/americancinematheque

The October 5th portion of this event is at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences!

Historic Tours of the Egyptian Theatre will be offered on Saturday, October 6 & Sunday, October 7! And don't miss Dreyer's THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC & the 85th Anniversary of the Egyptian Theatre Celebration on October 18th!

Believe it or not, the first sound feature film was made 80 years ago and it premiered on October 6, 1927. The film was THE JAZZ SINGER and its star was none other than Mr. Al Jolson (1886 - 1950), known as the World's Greatest Entertainer. To celebrate the 80th Anniversary  of this landmark film in motion picture history, THE JAZZ SINGER will be shown in a new digital restoration at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, followed by two days of Jolson films, a screening of the rare early Vitaphone short short "Al Jolson in A Plantation Act" (1926) with a panel discussion about the history of the film and the incredible tale of its restoration, with the restorationists themselves and Vitaphone and Jolson experts, a live, musical Cabaret performance with Richard "Mr. Tin Pan Alley" Halpern on vocals and the vintage sounds of the Dean Mora Trio, as well as the glossy Hollywood bio-pic, THE JOLSON STORY, starring Larry Parks as Al!

Al Jolson was the pre-eminent superstar of his era; his influence has been incalculable. There isn’t a major entertainer since 1920 who somehow, some way has not been affected by the magic of Jolson. Al is timeless. It’s no coincidence that stars like Tony Bennett, Cher, Mandy Patinkin and John Pizzarelli are still singing Jolson songs and that everyone from Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland to Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson were influenced by his presentation style which made each song an event! He had a keen rapport with his audiences and the power of his stage presence drove the crowd absolutely wild. He was known to stop shows for extended periods of applause.

The son of a Washington DC Jewish rabbi, Jolson started singing as a boy. He began working on Broadway in 1911 and he became legendary for his bravado style and ability to make audiences believe he was singing just to them. He also was famous for his "Black Face" characters and routines. With roots in the Minstrel Show of the previous century, this was a popular form of entertainment in America and although inherently rascist, was not intended as anything other than entertainment in its day. Jolson often performed with African American performers, and, in this seemingly bizarre tradition by today's standards, black performers would also sometimes appear as "black face" characters. Jolson's first finished film appearance was in the 1926 Vitaphone short, "Al Jolson in A Plantation Act," which historians believe is our best illustration of what a live Jolson show was like. None of his stage performances were ever filmed. By the 1930's the studio denied the existance of this 10 minute short, and it is a miracle that it was restored and available to see today as a record of early 20th century entertainment.

Additionally, Jolson was a great patriot and humanitarian having left millions to charities and he was the first entertainer to entertain both WW II and Korean War troops, as well as those in the Spanish American War.  

Jolson has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (for his contributions to radio, the recording industry and motion pictures), his star for radio is just steps west of the Egyptian at 6750 Hollywood Blvd. Much more can be read on Jolson on The Al Jolson Society Website.

Join us for the weekend, to learn more about The World's Greatest Entertainer, because in his words, "Wait A Minute, Wait A Minute, You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet.

 

Friday, October 5 – 8:00 PM

80th Anniversary Screening! This event is at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (not at the Egyptian)

THE JAZZ SINGER, 1927, Warner Bros., 88 min. "Warner Bros.' Supreme Triumph" The evening will feature the first full-length sound feature film with spoken dialog that is part of the dramatic action, ever made in a newly restored and remastered digital projection from the earliest surviving nitrate film elements and original Vitaphone sound-on-disc recordings by Warner Bros. The film is the story of the son of a Jewish Cantor who becomes a Jazz Singer despite his father's disapproval. Paralleling Jolson real life, the boy rises to fame as an entertainmer, but must mend his relationship with his family. With the famous Jolson hit "Mammy." Join us to celebrate this landmark event of motion picture history. With special guests. This screening is at The Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theatre. Tickets to "An 80th Anniversary Screening of THE JAZZ SINGER" are $5 for the general public and may be purchased online at www.oscars.org. Doors open at 7 p.m. All seating is unreserved. For additional information, please call the Academy at (310) 247-3600.

 

Saturday, October 6 – 6:30 PM

Reception, Live Event and Screening!

AL JOLSON: ON THE ROAD TO THE JAZZ SINGER

Live Cabaret Revue! Approx. 60 min. As part of our 80th anniversary celebration of THE JAZZ SINGER, the first sound feature, and our tribute to the film's star, Al Jolson, Richard Halpern (Mr.Tin Pan Alley) will perform a live musical journey through Jolson's Jazz Age with vintage accompaniment by band-leader Dean Mora;s Trio. Al recorded several tunes during the height of the Roaring Twenties, and Richard Halpern will be singing some of them in a live performance right here at the Egyptian Theatre. Known on both coasts, Richard Halpern has wowed audiences with his tributes to Al Jolson and the music of Tin Pan Alley’s Golden Age for quite some time.

PLUS Short: "Al Jolson in A Plantation Act" (1926, 10 min.) In 1926, the Vitaphone Corporation was formed with the intent of making commercially viable sound motion pictures in which the soundtrack would run in perfect tandem with the picture. Al Jolson, the most popular star of both the Broadway stage and commercial recordings, was recruited to appear in a one reel short for Vitaphone. The risky, but potentially revolutionary one reeler, was called, fully, "Al Jolson in A Plantation Act." Jolson (in black face) appears on a rural farm setting. As early as 1912, Jolson introduced a black face character named Gus. Gus, wily, smart, sympathetic, and the hero of his plays, generally outsmarted his antagonists. Jolson simply brought his stage persona onto the screen. His allure was fueled by his intensity with the audience; almost making them part of the show. He would often dance up and down a runway running through the house to get "closer" to the patrons; and he often dismissed the cast and spent much of the evening singing to audiences from directly in front of the footlights or hanging off the ramps. In this film, Jolson sings three of his hit songs: "April Showers", "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody," and "When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along." Historians think this may be the closest thing existing on film that best captured what he must have been like on the stage. Jolson, after each song, starts a patter talking directly to the viewer (as if they were seated in front of him) saying his humorous trademark, "Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothin' yet!" (laughter) "You ain't heard a thing!" Following the last song, Jolson comes out to take a "theatrical" curtain call, then keeps running back for additional bows. It is justly the Holy Grail of restoration efforts and an unforgettable experience. A panel discussion on the history and restoration of "Al Jolson In A Plantation Act" will precede the film. With panelists Ron Hutchinson (from the Vitaphone Project, who was influential in not only the restoration of the short, but also in the production of the new "Jazz Singer" DVD.); Herbert G. Goldman (One of the world's leading authorities on Al Jolson as well as the entire Tin Pan Alley era, and author of the definitive Jolson biography, Jolson: The Legend Comes To Life); John Newton (Owner of not only the sound disc to "A Plantation Act," which needed repair, but also owner of the pristine sound discs to THE JAZZ SINGER,, which Warner Brothers used for the upcoming DVD. Also one of the founding members of the Vitaphone Project.); Jim Cooprider (The person who actually repaired and restored the damaged sound disc of "A Plantation Act," so that is was ultimately usable in the restoration); Brad Kay (Musical historian specializing in early jazz, as well as an accomplished ragtime pianist, and record collector. He chronicled the entire restoration of "A Plantation Act" from start to finish, in a fascinating essay some years back.); Robert Gitt (From the UCLA archives. He has been influential in many restorations of early sound films, including many Jolson projects.)

THE JOLSON STORY, 1946, Sony Repertory, 128 min. Dir. Alfred E. Green. This smash hit from 1946 was nominated for six Oscars (it won two, for Best Music Scoring and Best Sound Recording). Don't come to this expecting Jolson's "true" life story; this is Hollywood gloss all the way. It contains some of the best music of the first part from the 20th century, including "Swanee," "California, Here I Come," "There's a Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder" and dozens of others. And the late, great, Larry Parks as Al Jolson shouldn't be missed!

Reception begins the evening at 6:30 PM. Special prices for this evening (which includes reception): General: $20, Students/Seniors: $18, Cinematheque/Jolson Society Members: $15. Tickets will be available at the door.

 

 

Sunday, October 7 – 7:30 PM

Al Jolson Double Feature:

HALLELUJAH, I'M A BUM!, 1933, International Entertainment Enterprises, 82 min. Dir. Lewis Milestone. During a 1933 hiatus from Warners, Al Jolson made one of the most intriguing cult films of all time. This film is a bitterly fascinating oddity, and is unquestionably the finest acting performance in his career. Set in Depression-era New York, HALLELUJAH centers on the happy go lucky Bumper (Al Jolson), the "mayor" of Central Park’s homeless community, who cheerfully accepts his lot in life, until he meets a beautiful amnesiac (Madge Evans). Bumper falls in love and decides to get a job to support her — unaware that's she's the mistress of his friend, the Mayor of New York (Frank Morgan). With story by Ben Hecht, and a fine Rodgers and Hart score, the two standouts being the poignant "You Are Too Beautiful" and the whimsical title tune. The film is unusually stylish; songs are interspersed with a large amount of "rhythmic dialogue." It is odd how in historical retrospective, the film has taken on a glow of fascination. To historically appreciate the film, one needs to keep in mind the social climate in 1933, with 25% of the country unemployed and banks closing. "Hoboes" were looked upon with sympathy, because most could relate to their blameless plight; consequently, there's a surprising amount of social commentary. Interestingly, it is the only film Jolson ever made sans the black face makeup. HALLELUJAH, I’M A BUM! is whimsy -- a truly stunning experience, that is more impressive with time!

BIG BOY, 1930, 68 min. Dir. Alan Crosland. This may well be the closest a modern audience will ever come to seeing what a genuine Al Jolson Broadway musical looked like. It is the only one of Jolson’s Broadway shows to be filmed. Based on his 1925 hit, the film casts Jolson in the blackface role of Gus, a stableboy at a moss-covered Southern plantation. Gus' favorite horse is the magnificent Big Boy, whom he hopes to ride to victory at the Kentucky Derby. Jolson’s "Gus" displays a persona more reminiscent of Eddie Cantor, than of a wisecracking comic who occasionally bursts into song. This is the only time he would play a central character entirely in blackface. Jolson performs his character in the most relaxed manner, giving the movie a different feel from his previous schmaltzy efforts that began with THE JAZZ SINGER (1927). The finale sequence is a clever and utterly charming ending. Gus (in jockey breeches) spins a complete 360 degree circle to "wipe" away his makeup.. the scene fades to a "curtain call" on a Warner Bros. soundstage, with Jolson, minus makeup and out of character, cheerfully introducing the supporting cast and offering to sing few encores for the benefit of the spectators. The closing reprise of "Tomorrow is Another Day," in which Jolson waxes nostalgic over Sunday dinner with his family: "What’s that hanging in the kitchen window, a luscious Southern ham! Ha, .Ha! That ain't my house!" The film is an interesting curio, but is not without its charms. While no signature Jolson tunes emerge from either the show or film, it does have several charming sentimental songs include: "Liza Lee," "My Little Sunshine," ""Tomorrow is Another Day," and a smashing up tempo nightclub tune called "Hooray for Baby and Me." NOT ON DVD