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The Jazz Singer (1927) - Mammy

by Nicholas Sammond

In the first talkie film, The Jazz Singer (1927), Al Jolson performs the song "Mammy" in blackface as the final performance. His mother sits in the front as he songs about his devotion to her, his "Mammy", beginning to heal the family divisions that his becoming a jazz singer had caused. Al Jolson's performance was extremely popular, and marked his definitive ascent in Hollywood. The performance reveals interesting juxtapositions in the film message and use of stereotype and racial portrayal. While singing to his mother as proof that he wishes for both freedom (to be a jazz singer) and family, he uses blackface and the fictional caricature of the black "Mammy," whose persona crucially involves a contentedness with slavery as a sacrifice to maintain family (even to the "white family").

The Jazz Singer (1927) - Mammy

In the first talkie, The Jazz Singer (1927), Al Jolson performs the song "Mammy" in blackface. His mother sits in the front as he songs about his devotion to his mother, healing the family divisions that his becoming a jazz singer had caused.

from The Jazz Singer (1927)
Creator: Alan Crosland
Posted by Nicholas Sammond
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