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The Jazz Singer at the George Eastman Museum

Jan 13th, 2019
Time: 7pm
Location: George Eastman Museum, 900 East Avenue , Rochester NY
Phone: (585)-327-4800
Price: free

Best known as the first hit feature-length “talkie” with a synchronized music score, singing, and speech, this film is also a rarity in early Hollywood—it features a Jewish protagonist. Al Jolson stars as Jakie Rabinowitz, a young man who runs away from his devout family because they reject his desire to perform popular music. He becomes a successful jazz singer under the name Jack Robin, but he longs for reconciliation. It has been argued that Jolson’s controversial performance in blackface—a common practice at the time—symbolizes and complicates the central theme of a Jewish man presenting himself as a white gentile, pointing to the “duplicity and ethnic hybridity within American identity.” The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing at the first Academy Awards in 1929.

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