Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Jazz Singer

When I was 12 or so I lived until I was 14 or so with my parents in a duplex on 17th and Clackamas in Portland.

That was not many blocks from the Irvington theatre.

I saw a lot of movies at the Irvington.

Because it was close to where I lived.

And my parents were still adjusting to the death of my sister, and the adjustments – I guess – necessary to life after remarriage.

So they often sent me off to the Irvington.

What a magic problem for a star struck kid to have.

Because of being farmed off to the neighborhood theatre, I saw a lot of the early 1950’s movies.

I think most of them were quite good, because I have fond memories of those Irvington movie days.

But I don’t remember any specifics about that good feeling.

Even the movies’ names.

Except for two.

One of those  was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

My parents had to come and get me out of the theatre on that one; I was so mesmerized by it I just stayed and watched it as they played it again, and again, and again – in those days one could stay and watch subsequent screenings for no additional cost.

I own that movie – Seven Brides For Seven Brothers - and have watched it a number of times in the last couple of years.

It never ceases being great.

Howard Keel and Jane Powell are wonderful.

So are Julie Newmar and Russ Tamblyn.

And everybody else in the cast.

The other Irvington movie that I have remembered by name is The Jazz Singer.

The one with Danny Thomas and Peggy Lee.

Yes, Danny Thomas (Marlo’s father) and Peggy Lee (you know, “Is That All There Is?”, by Lieber and Stoller).

I have always remembered that it was, from my nubile 13 or so year old viewpoint, a great movie.

But, as years have passed and a cover to this cover (Al Jolson made it originally) went by without me seeing it (I like Kris Kristofferson as a country singer and a hard scrabble song writer, not as a jazz singer, or in a relationship with Barbara Streisand – although Rita made a lot of sense) I assumed that the Danny Thomas version couldn’t be as good as I remembered.

I was, after all, only 13 or so at the time that I first saw it.

Yesterday I downloaded it.

Just a little while ago I finished watching it.

After all those years.

What a great movie.

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