Entertaining sequel to "The Jolson Story" with Larry Parks
C. Roberts | Halifax, Yorkshire, United Kingdom | 09/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Jolson Sings Again" is a worthy sequel to "The Jolson Story" with Larry Parks repeating his amazing portrayal of the sensational Broadway entertainer Al Jolson. The film takes up where the original ended with Jolson singing in a night club then he goes home to find that his wife Julie (Evelyn Keyes) has left him. William Demarest is back once again as Steve Martin (Jolson's friend and manager) with Ludwig Donath and Tamara Shayne repeating their roles as Jolson's parents. Jolson is only happy when singing on stage to a live audience but finds that he is now no longer in demand and it is difficult to get work. Steve Martin tries hard to discover some Broadway producer who will put Jolson into a show but no one is interested. Jolson then volunteers to entertain the troops abroad and is one of the first of the big stars to do this. While on one of these Tours he meets Col. Bryant (Myron McCormick) who is a big Jolson fan. On another Tour Jolson contracts an illness and is taken to hospital. Ellen Clark (Barbara Hale) is a nurse at the hospital where he is recovering and they fall in love and get married. Jolson still pines to be singing again and Steve Martin manages to get him a spot in an all star benefit show. The show is extremely long and Jolson doesn't appear until the finale by which time many people have left. However, Col. Bryant is in the audience that night and he stays to the end specially to hear Jolson sing. Bryant is now a Hollywood film producer and phones Jolson after the show with an offer to make a film of Jolson's life story. Much of "Jolson Sings Again" shows the background to the making of the earlier film which is fascinating - particularly when Larry Parks (as Jolson) is introduced to Larry Parks (as himself)!! "The Jolson Story" became a smash hit putting Jolson back on top and he went on to even greater success than before with another biographical film a few years later continuing his story in "Jolson Sings Again".Some favourite lines from the film:William Demarest (to Robert Emmett Keane): "I'm not going back to that guy with some lame excuse that adds up to only one thing - he's not wanted. I can't do it Charlie, and you're not going to make me do it".Myron McCormick (to soldiers at Jolson troop concert): "I don't know what the name means to you. When I was your age it meant the world's greatest entertainer - Al Jolson".McCormick (to Parks as Jolson): "Meet a young fellow named Larry Parks".Barbara Hale (to Parks): "It's your right to hear those bobby soxers squeal".It is interesting to note that the storyline in both films was not entirely accurate and took a few liberties with the facts. Jolson's mother died when he was eight years old yet in the films she lives on to see him become a big success on Broadway and in talking pictures. Many people who played active parts in Jolson's real life story did not even get a mention in the film versions. His long time manager Louis Epstein, his dresser valet Frank Holmes and his brother Harry Jolson were all eliminated!! The character of Steve Martin excellently played by William Demarest did not actually exist and it has been suggested that this role was probably a composite of the three men referred to above plus several other people. Jolson's first two wives were not even mentioned in "The Jolson Story" and Ruby Keeler (Jolson's third wife) would not allow her name to be used in the picture so attractive Evelyn Keyes had to play the fictitious Julie Benson instead.Harry Cohn (the notorious head of Columbia Pictures) is to be congratulated for going ahead with Jolson's life story when all the other major Hollywood studios had turned it down. Even Warner Bros. (for whom Jolson had starred in several films) were not interested. Filming was started on a small budget and in black and white. When Harry Cohn saw the early rushes he decided to film in colour and make "The Jolson Story" a major prestigious production. This certainly paid off in a big way for him as the film became one of Columbia Pictures top money earners and led to this sequel "Jolson Sings Again". James Cagney and Danny Thomas were both offered the part of Jolson and surprisingly both of them turned it down! Jolson desperately wanted to play the leading role himself and was opposed to another actor portraying his life. Unfortunately for him the studio decided that Jolson was too old (he was 60 at the time of the first film) but Columbia could not have found anyone better than the young Larry Parks (31) who perfectly captured the Jolson style and threw himself into the part with relish. However, Jolson did manage to play himself in one scene of "The Jolson Story" singing "Swanee" on the Winter Garden runway (all filmed in longshot with no close-ups). A clip from this scene was also shown in "Jolson Sings Again" so he did manage to appear in both films after all. Following the completion of "Jolson Sings Again" Larry Parks only made another four films due to the McCarthy communist "witch hunt" which was a shame as he was a very talented performer. He died in 1975 but will always be remembered for these two magnificent Jolson films. It is remarkable that over 50 years after Jolson's death there is an active "International Jolson Society" still in existence which has hundreds of members worldwide and publishes regular illustrated journals. "The Jolson Story" and "Jolson Sings Again" are two of my favourite musicals and I can watch them over and over again."
"Jolson Story II": script only OK but Parks better than ever
Scott MacGillivray | Massachusetts, USA | 03/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Jolson Sings Again" picks up where "The Jolson Story" left off and takes the singing star into the 1940s, when he finds himself in professional decline until his movie biography comes out. Because this sequel covers far less territory than the original, "Jolson Sings Again" lacks the stature and story values of the earlier picture. But in many ways it's even more fun to watch. By this time Larry Parks, already impressive in "The Jolson Story," was in full command of the role. Parks is often very amusing and inventive here, adding little bits of business to his performance. As for his song scenes, this writer submits "Sonny Boy" for special praise. Parks is letter-perfect, so much so that the film editor doesn't cut away from Parks's face as he delivers one long, flawless take. Barbara Hale is excellent as the romantic interest, and Ludwig Donath and Myron McCormick are fine in support. (Look quickly for "Gong Show" bandleader Milton Delugg as a young accordionist.) Fans of Al Jolson will enjoy hearing many popular hits, and movie buffs will especially enjoy the scenes showing the preparation and filming of "The Jolson Story." You don't have to know the original to enjoy "Jolson Sings Again.""
Never get tired of this one!
J. Hall | CT USA | 08/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Larry Parks is incredible once again as Al Jolson. Sure, its kind of predictable, and some of the more popular scenes from "The Jolson Story" are redone here, but I could watch this movie every day and not get tired of the music, story, and especially Larry Parks! Would LOVE to have it in DVD if/when that happens!"
Listen to those bobby soxers squeal !!!
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 12/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jolson Sings Again picks up the Al Jolson story where the prequel, The Jolson Story, leaves off. Al Jolson is played brilliantly by Larry Parks; and Al Jolson's parents are again played by Ludwig Donath and Tamara Shayne. The plot moves along at a fairly good pace with an interesting subplot for the last half hour of the movie during which we see the making of The Jolson Story, thus giving us a film within a film.
When the action begins, Al Jolson is only momentarily saddened by his wife Julia leaving him. He longs to return to the stage. Time has passed and newcomers like Bing Crosby get the spotlight Jolson once enjoyed so very much. We see Jolson touring the globe to entertain troops during World War II; and the movie shows Jolson having health problems from stress and viruses he caught in his later years.
Eventually Jolson remarries a military nurse named Ellen Clark (Barbara Hale), although in real life Jolson was never married to anyone named Ellen Clark. Steve Martin (William Demarest) continues to manage Jolson during the leaner years when Jolson isn't in great demand anymore.
The wonderful thing about this flick is that we see the making of The Jolson Story during the last half hour or so; and this is truly very entertaining to watch. It's also great to see Jolson regaining popularity after The Jolson Story was released.
The choreography works very well in the scenes in which they film The Jolson Story; and the cinematography is probably at its height in those scenes as well.
Overall, Jolson Sings Again is a worthy sequel to The Jolson Story; and the convincing acting makes this a good picture. It's somewhat less exciting and also somewhat more somber than The Jolson Story because, of course, Jolson's life story wasn't as pretty in the last ten years or so of his life. Nevertheless, Jolson Sings Again remains a fine motion picture about the life and times of one of America's greatest entertainers ever. Jolson fans will surely want this in their collections. "
Jolson Sings Again
Graig Flach | Portland, OR | 05/12/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The rating is based on the premise that the viewer has also seen The Jolson Story. Jolson Sings Again is a sentimental charmer that scores because it finishes the business started in the far superior first film. Wonderful songs, competent performances, plus a fascinating view of the making of the first film, with the (at the time sensational) gimmick of having the aging Jolson (played by Larry Parks) meet and shake hands with the young man (Larry Parks) scheduled to portray him in biopic. (So you see Parks shaking hands with Parks.) As with the first movie, Jolson's songs are great, although his unique voice probably sounds cartoonish to most modern listeners, and the films fail to capture the reported electric dynamism of Jolson's live performances."