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February 1998, Week 1


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gloria monti <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 4 Feb 1998 13:10:48 -0400
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>Does Al Jolson's black-faced performance as Jackie Rabinowitz in THE JAZZ
>SINGER (1927) accurately portray the situation for Jewish and other white
>singers/performers of early twentieth century American theatre?  Did they
>"have to" perform in black-face in order to appear onstage as "jazz"
>singers or "minstrel" comedians?  Is that what audiences expected and
>tradition dictated--for how long?  Or, did whites (and blacks) also sing
>and tell jokes in a similar way without black-face during the same period?
>These are some of the many issues that arise when I show my students THE
>JAZZ SINGER as a glimpse of the minstrel show, black-face tradition and its
>influence on modern musical theatre and film.  I would appreciate answers,
>speculations, and references that might illuminate our classroom
>discussion.  For example, one of my students here (a white Carolinian)
>asked about the last, very emotional scene of the film
        Emotional for whom?
, as the black-faced
>Jackie sings "Mammie" to his Jewish mother in the theatre audience: "Is
>that supposed to be funny?"
>Mark Pizzato
>Dept. of Dance and Theatre
>Charlotte, NC 28223
>[log in to unmask]
>(704) 547-4488
>FAX: 704-547-3795
        How about reading Michael Rogin's "Blackface, White Noise: The
Jewish Jazz Singer Finds His Voice."  *Critical Inquiry* 18.3 (1992):
        Gloria Monti
Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama.