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THE JOLSON STORY

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LARRY PARKS was absolutely amazing in his superb portrayal as Al Jolson in "The Jolson Story" (1946) and the sequel "Jolson Sings Again" (1949) which upgraded him overnight from being just a routine Columbia "B" picture contract player to a Star!! However, it was a great shame that he made so few films following the two Jolson biopics due to the communist "witch hunt" in the early 50s which brought his promising career to an abrupt end. This was indeed a sad waste of a very talented actor - just one of many whose careers were ruined by these investigations. Harry Cohn (the notorious head of Columbia Pictures) is to be congratulated for going ahead with Jolson's life story when so many of the other Hollywood studios turned it down. Even Warner Brothers (for whom Jolson had starred in several films) were not interested. Filming was started on a small budget - and in black and white. When Harry Cohn saw the rushes he decided to film in colour and make "The Jolson Story" a major production. This certainly paid off for him in a big way as the film became one of Columbia's biggest money earners - and led to a sequel "Jolson Sings Again" in 1949. Danny Thomas, James Cagney and Gene Kelly were all offered the part of Jolson in the film and all of them turned it down! Jolson desperately wanted to play the leading role himself - and was opposed to another actor portraying him on the screen. Unfortunately for him, the studio decided that he was obviously too old (he was 60 at the time of the first film) but Columbia couldn't have found anyone better than the younger Larry Parks (then 31) who perfectly captured the Jolson style and threw himself into the part with relish. It is great having both films together on one DVD but I was disappointed that there were no extras apart from three film trailers for other Columbia musicals "Pal Joey", "Oliver" and "Annie". It would have been more appropriate to have included the trailers for the two Jolson films - and perhaps even the screen test that Jolson made for "Jolson Sings Again". Anyway, although some present day viewers might find "The Jolson Story" rather old fashioned and corny today, it was for me - and still is - the greatest Hollywood film biography ever made!!
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Added by classic movie buff
8 years ago on 27 July 2008 08:35


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Posted: 8 years, 11 months ago at Jul 27 8:41
Evelyn Keyes was good too!

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