Arts & Entertainment

Al Jolson Speaks: The History of The Early Talkies


SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- In 1927, the famous Jewish singer Al Jolson came on at the end of the movie “The Jazz Singer” in blackface and sang “My Dear Old Mammy.” The audience was astounded. This film ushered in the beginning of sound in movies.

The public is invited to come to the Scotch Hills Country Club on Tuesday, March 28, for the monthly meeting of the Historical Society of Scotch Plains and Fanwood to experience “You ain’t heard nothing yet.”  Ron , one of the country’s foremost film historians, will be the educator for the evening. His special emphasis is the period covering the transition to sound (1925-30) and early attempts to add sound to film. 

Hutchinson is the founder of The Vitaphone Project, which seeks missing soundtrack discs and picture elements for early talkie shorts and features. To date, The Vitaphone Project has worked with WB, UCLA, LOC and private collectors worldwide to find over 6,000 previously lost soundtrack discs and to restore over 100 1926-30 early sound shorts. Hutchinson’s knowledge of this period of the early talkies of American film history has been tapped for over 25 books, documentaries for PBS, TCM and as film commentarian and on-screen interviewee for the highly successful Warner Home Video DVD boxed set “The Jazz Singer.” 

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In 2015, Hutchinson was awarded the National Society of Film Critics “Film Heritage Honor” for his work in film preservation and discoveries. In 2016, he presented a program of rare Vitaphone shorts at the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival in Hollywood.

The meeting is free and open to everyone. Refreshments and fellowship will follow the program. The meeting starts at 8:00 p.m. Scotch Hills Country Club is located at Plainfield Ave. and Jerusalem Road in Scotch Plains. For more information about this event, contact Connie Klock, 908-232-9489.

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