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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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Much is made of the factual inaccuracies of this story. In fact if you have the good fortune to read the excellent book JOLIE -THE STORY OF AL JOLSEN by Michael Freedland, the truth is not as far away as you may think. First of all the man had to have an ego do what he was doing, cope with the fame and up to a point survive. He had certain character traits that others had, a temper, meanness followed by generosity and so on that were minimised and ignored for the most part by the film. You can only tell so much of a story and maintain the interest of the watcher. Personalities devolve in to composite characters and so on. Like for most mature vocalists, the music has to be several steps lower as the range changes with age. As with Sinatra and others this was a bonus and Jolsen's voice became richer and developed a beauty that many would envy. I saw a comment about Larry Parks as the younger Jolsen having too rich a sound for Jolsen at that age. So what!!! Rather that than a bad impressionist or an adjusted old record for a soundtrack. Jolies voice is thrilling by anyone's standard.

Larry Parks worked very hard to demonstrate the power of Jolsen. He sang at the top of his voice to unbearable loud Jolen tracks so that you could see that he was 'working'; veins bulging; eyes poppin'. Something I have laughed about in other films where they just move their lips and totally fail to convince.

According to Jolsen; apparently he was pleased with what Parks did except for one sequence on the runway Parks could not mimic the Jolsen dance convincely (for Jolie). In fact in long shot the 'dancer' is Jolie! He used to jest that when he died they would bury Larry Parks he was so convincing.

This is still one of the finest biographical musicals ever made. A box officer winner the time and enjoyable in the extreme now.

Incidentally in another place, great play was made of his ex-wife Ruby Keeler being air-brushed out of the film. She would not let it happen and allegedly never watched the film when it was made.

Watch this film, see between the lines; you will appreciate that most of the story is there somewhere.

A lot closer than the producers of the immensely enjoyable Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller stories ever got to the truth!! Those films wereimmensely enjoyable too.

You must not shrink from buying these films if you have any sort of soul.
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on 25 December 2003
Like just about every other Hollywood "biography" of the period these two films manage to wander quite a bit from the truth. Who cares? The music is just wonderful and these flawlessly restored prints are marvellous. Great colour and great sound. I bought these two separately and felt they were worth every penny but having them rolled up into one collection is an even better deal. I can watch these over and over again and enjoy Larry Park's Oscar-nominated (and much deserved) performance time after time. Jolson re-recorded all his great hits for these films and the quality of his voice was actually said to have improved over his earlier recordings, despite singing 4 notes lower than when he performed them originally. These movies are all about the music and there's lots and lots of that to enjoy. The first of the films: "The Jolson Story" was the top selling film of 1946. No surprise. Do yourself a favour ... if you've any appetite at all for these great old songs buy this set and let any lack of accuracy in his life story roll off your back. This is pure musical entertainment at a very high level.
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on 27 October 2011
I am a member of the International Al Jolson Society. An organisation which exists to perpetuate the memory of the man they called "The World's Greatest Entertainer". Al Jolson was an entertainer who never stopped entertaining.
An entertainer in the total absolute sense of the word. A man who literally conjured with his voice, casting a magical spell over every gathering and managing by some miracle of regeneration to give himself to people, heart and soul night after night.All his life Al Jolson carried on an unashamed love affair with his audience, an affair that lasted when everyone said it was over, because it was founded on love strong enough to survive one long seperation and some serious rifts. When Al Jolson died in 1950, he was a household name, acknowledged by all the world to be fabulously rich and fervently American.However, in the best fairy-tale tradition, his beginings in Lithuania were far removed in every way from his later life; for when he was born in 1886, "The World's Greatest Entertainer" did not even owe the name by which the world was to know him.

From what my fellow Jolsonians have been telling me, it is through the two Bio-Pic Films "The Jolson Story" and
"Jolson Sings Again" with Larry Parks that most Jolson fans first fell in love with AL Jolson. This is the Jolson that most people love and remember, and had it not been for "The Jolson Story" and "Jolson Sings Again", and this enormous comeback in popularity Jolson enjoyed after entertaining the troops during The Second World War, if all we had ever heard of him were the early Pre-Electric Recordings of the 1920s,then he would not have had anything like the impact he has today.At the same time recording techniques improved, so did the quality of Al Jolson's voice.
Here was a newer, deeper Al Jolson singing better than ever before.Around about this time, the late 1940s Jolson was being voted top male vocalist in the popularity polls, with Bing Crosby second, Perry Come third, and the up and coming Frank Sinatra fourth.

I make no apologies, every time i watch "The Jolson Story", I break down and cry, especially that scene where he sings "April Showers". That's my favourite of all the "Jolson" songs.
"The World's Greatest Entertainer" may not have always been "The World's Nicest Human Being",
but as an entertainer Al Jolson simply has no equal.
There has never been anybody like Jolson before or since in show business,
and there will never be another Al Jolson.
Al Jolson was unique, a once in a lifetime performer. Even now,more than sixty years after he departed this earthly scene, he's still out there, showing us the way.He has left us a Legacy. If I lived to be a billion years old, I would still feel that Al Jolson was "The Greatest Entertainer of All Time". I'm not denying there have been some very talented people since Jolson, but to me he was "The Greatest Entertainer of them All".

Your's Sincerely,

Chris Mumford

Jolson Fan for Life.
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on 10 December 2003
Myself, my brother and two sisters pretty much grew up watching these film (OK less of the "SAD" remarks). And watching it again some 20 years later, just brought all the memories back and I'm surprised to still know pretty much every word! Great film about one man's dedication to his work and addiction to entertaining people, almost destroyed his personal life.
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on 18 March 2004
I watched this movie years ago when I was a boy and wanted to own it on dvd. It is just as good as I remember, the songs and Larry Prks plays the part so well. My children watched also and although their nine and eleven they watch it whenever they get the chance and konw all the songs. they also want me to buy Al Jolson CD's.
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on 10 November 2011
I first saw these two films as a youngster in the Fifties with my mother. No TV in our house then. One week I saw "The Jolson Story" and the following week " Jolson Sings again". I thought nothing strange in this, although I now know that the films were made three years apart. I remember enjoying them at a very young age and of course Jolson had regained his popularity by then as well. Over the years I have caught snatches of the films on TV. But this year I bought the DVD. They are still fantastic. OK the films have had the full Hollywood Biographical treatment , but as another reviewer mentions, " you can read between the lines." Even now to me he is still the Greatest entertainer ever,someone who gave his all to the audience.
I have watched the films several times and they bring back so many memories, call me very sentimental but the songs move me everytime. " Sonny boy" is a real tear -jerker. The "Blacking up " was not something I really thought about at the time, but in the film this comes in to being when, Jolson takes the place of a " minstrel playing artist" who is too drunk to go on stage, ( so it was a disguise for him in that instance. ( we had yet to have the " Black and White Minstrel Show" on the BBC.) It is a very insignificant part of the film, and the scene shows his first time as a solo act.* Larry Parks is brilliant, obviously actually singing his heart out, although it is Jolson''s voice we hear. Parks carreer faltered after he was called before the infamous House committee of Un-American Activities headed by Senator Joseph Macarthy. Like many other actors his career was blighted after this.
These films are truly professional and also boast on the cover " contains no sex, violence or bad language". Sit back and be entertained.

*Read Wikipedia for agood synopsis on Jolsen and see how he was an influence on so many top artists, now and then.
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on 12 September 2009
First saw the "Jolson Story" in the late 1940's, add it to "Jolson sings again" and you have the complete entertainment package-Love,Heartbreak,and a wonderful musical storyline and certainly at that time "The Worlds Greatest Entertainer"
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on 4 March 2015
Loved these movies since seeing them as a kid in the 1970s, Very loosely based on Jolson's life (about as loose as a tarts drawers in fact) and somewhere along the way Hollywood has lost one or two of Jolson's wives. Larry Parks looks about as much like Jolson as Sophie Tucker looked like Dietrich but this is Hollywood after all. Evelyn Keyes who plays Jolson's wife Ruby Keeler was in later years quite disparaging about the film and the real Ruby Keeler threatened to sue Columbia for the way they portrayed her departure from the arrogant Jolson's life.
Jolson in real life was a terrific entertainer and probably still deserves the title of 'The Worlds Greatest Entertainer' but by all accounts wasn't a particularly pleasant character to be around being self centered and full of his own importance, so it is probably just as well it was made when in the 1940s when facts were not likely to get in the way of things. Larry Parks was certainly more personable than the real thing and Evelyn Keyes did not have to adopt that awful whinging whining voice that Ruby Keeler had, thank god we didn't have to sit through Ruby singing as it would have been too much for the faint hearted.

Jolson of course supplied Mr Parks with a singing voice and there is no doubt about it that it is the voice that steals the show.
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on 19 August 2009
This is a film with feeling and an excellent human story about "making it big" from a humble background.
The songs are wonderful and were some of the biggest at the time!
What a performer he must have been and Larry Parkes plays the role with gusto and great feeling, superb!!
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on 15 January 2015
THIS DVD IS NOT THE FULL LENGTH VERSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I bought this DVD and was bitterly disappointed to find that the scene featuring Jock Mahoney (in an uncredited role), is not included in this DVD release. In the unedited version, Jock Mahoney appears for about 5 seconds or more in this move, and there is a close up shot of him, as a man sitting in the audience; wearing a blue pin striped suit, applauding "Jolson" on stage. All the online and published filmographies list Jock Mahoney as "Man", "uncredited" and or "bit part".
When Jolson Sings Again was shown on the BBC back in the mid 80's it was broadcast complete with this scene. Why this brief scene has been cut for DVD release is illogical and annoying.
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