DVD Review: Jerry Lewis As The Jazz Singer

By Laurie CokerRating: B

Jerry Lewis as The Jazz Singer

Unrated – February 7, 2012
List Price: $14.98
I grew up with Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, mainly because of my parents, the limited channel choices of my youth and I love to laugh. I can’t say Lewis made me laugh on every occasion, but coupled with Martin, I did find humor.  The Jazz Singer, directed by Ralph Nelson, adapted from the celebrated short story and play by Samson Raphaelson,, stars Jerry Lewis and proved to be a definitive moment in, not only Lewis’ career, but in history, since it was the first color, taped life broadcast.With so much comedy under his belt, Lewis wanted to venture, like many comedians to, into the more dramatic genre. This hour long television piece, tells the story of a comedian on the verge of making it big. He’s estranged from his father (Eduard Franz), a respected synagogue cantor who refuses to accept his son’s profession. Joey does make it big in television, and decides to go home to his disapproving father on his birthday. While the majority of his family delights in Joey’s success, his strict father pressures him to quit comedy and return home to follow other members of his family into the role of cantor.This historical show has been well restored and new on DVD, it can be viewed in either black and white or color. Regardless, Lewis’ talents are undeniable. He manages funny and heart-breaking with seeming ease. Some aspects of his comedy use to grate on me, but as I watched The Jazz Singer, I remember just how much he brought to the entertainment world.Certainly there are faults in the “old-school” set designs and cheesy dialogue, but cannot debate the value of vintage storytelling and production.  I am placing a B in my grade book. I know my parents (may my mother rest in peace) would appreciate it and I think it would do new generations good to see the talents of a comedian like Jerry Lewis, even when he is being serious.

 

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