What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this 1927 film -- the first "talkie" -- features Al Jolson performing in blackface, a practice that was popular in its day and may need to be explained to younger viewers and put into context. The use of blackface is certainly racist, but in one instance it's handled well, suggesting a connection between African Americans and Jews experiencing similiar identities as outsiders. The movie reveals the domestic discord of Jackie's family life and depicts a cruel father who whips and disowns him.
- Families can talk about the practice of blackface in American history and the themes it raises here. Is there a connection between Jackie's Jewish identity, his struggle with assimilation, and the black American experience? Families can also talk about the transition from silent film to the talkies. What new film technologies might we witness in our lifetime?