This is an incredibly rare recording. This version of the Jazz Singer features Jerry Lewis, and the recording is taken directly from the legend’s video vault. One has to remember that this recording was done in 1959, which precludes the existence of home-based VHS recorders. The fact that this recording still exists is particularly impressive, as a number of the television stations that received these performances recorded over these shows, in order to save the cost of the recording media.
The quality of The Jazz Singer is stellar, with a crispness that is simply not seen from many recordings from this era. For those that are fans of The Jazz Singer, the one-hour limitation of the performance means that certain parts of the plot are excised. However, I believe that what results in this version is even stronger – while one has to take a set of facts as true, I believe that the plot is tightened up considerably. The blending of other period stars like Barry Gordon, Molly Picon, and Joey Faye means that Lewis is battling tooth and nail for the focus of the presentation.
Inception’s version of The Jazz Singer has two distinct ways in which to watch Lewis’ performance. One can watch it as it was originally seen, in the black and white kinescope version, or in the video / color version. Whichever version one prefers, Lewis’ masterful take on the art from of comedy comes through brilliantly. I would strongly recommend this DVD to anyone that is a fan of Lewis’ work, or wants to see what the to-do was in 1950s television culture. Inception has a strong slate of movies coming out in the latter part of this year – keep an eye out for what they will be doing.
The Jazz Singer (DVD) / 2012 Inception Media Group / 60 Minutes / http://www.inceptionmediagroup.com