CastAl Jolson Release dateOctober 7, 1926 (1926-10-07) (U.S.) GenresMusic, Short Film, Black-and-white DistributorWarner Bros. Entertainment Similar moviesGold Diggers of Broadway (1929), Finding His Voice (1929), Mammy (1930), The Singing Fool (1928), Jolson Sings Again (1949)
A Plantation Act (1926) is an early Vitaphone sound-on-disc short film starring Al Jolson, the first film that Jolson starred in. On a film set with a plantation background, Jolson in blackface sings three of his hit songs: "April Showers", "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody", and "When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along)". The film presents him as if in a live stage performance, complete with three curtain calls at the finish. Its premiere took place on October 7, 1926, at the Colony Theatre, New York, where it concluded a program of short subjects that accompanied Warner Brothers' second feature-length Vitaphone film The Better 'Ole. The "Intermission" card which appears at its end derives from that use. Critics praised A Plantation Act as the hit of the show.
The short was long believed to be a lost film, and its unavailability fueled the misconception that Jolson's first sound film was the famous feature-length milestone The Jazz Singer, which premiered almost exactly one year later. A mute print of A Plantation Act was eventually found in the Library of Congress, mislabeled as a preview for The Jazz Singer. A copy of the corresponding soundtrack disc also came to light, but it had been broken into four pieces and glued back together so imperfectly that it would not play through. After some careful surgery, restoration technicians succeeded in making a usable dub from the disc and digitally removing the pops and clicks resulting from the damage. The restored film was included on a LaserDisc published in the 1990s and as a bonus feature on the 2007 3-disc DVD release of The Jazz Singer.
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