Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
Sections

Commentaries on this Media!

The Singing Fool - Sonny Boy

by Nicholas Sammond

This clip from The Singing Fool (1928), Al Stone (Al Jolson) tells his manager that he cannot go on stage, who replies that it might make him forget his troubles. Stone sings "Sonny Boy," in the context of his despair at possibly losing his own son, who was taken by his wife when she left him and is now sick in the hospital. He collapses as soon as the song is over, and while being comforted says everything has taught him he will never quit singing. The routine, as per usual for Al Jolson, is done in blackface. In particular for this song, as with several of Jolson's well known performances, the spheres of family and freedom/performance are reconciled. An interesting dimension is the presence of blackface with this message, almost presenting an argument for freedom within the performance. This message has complicated elements in the context of blackface as representation of black performers and black people as a whole (through stereotype), and the nuances of freedom/stereotyping that have played out within the history of black performers themselves.

The Singing Fool (1928) - Sonny Boy

This clip from The Singing Fool (1928), Al Stone (Al Jolson) tells his manager that he cannot go on stage, who replies that it might make him forget his troubles. Stone sings "Sonny Boy," in the context of his despair at possibly losing his own son.

from The Singing Fool (1928)
Creator: Lloyd Bacon
Posted by Nicholas Sammond
Keywords
Options