Payday Loans
(Alan Crosland . 1927 )

“Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain’t heard nuttin’ yet!” 



Al Jolson loved the short story in Everybody's Magazine. So close to his own life as showbiz star in new-world conflict with his old-world, Jewish cantor father.  Jolson asked director DW Griffith to film it.  "Too racial,"said Griffith, still miffed with Jolson for refusing to finish Mammy's Boy, 1923.

Jolson next aimed for a stage revue version, but authorSamson Raphelson refused permission.  He wrote his own stage play version he called it a"simple, corny, well-felt, little melodrama."  et the Broadway run only closed after 38 weeks when its star, George Jessel, was signed by the three Warner brothers for the film - and quit after squabbles over money(said Jack Warner), script changes (said Jessel).

Jessel was offered $30,000. When hearing the film would be made with Viatphone sound,he wanted $10,000more. Jack Warner, the youngest and, ultimately ,the most powerful of the brothers, agreed. Not good enough for Jessel. He wanted it in writing from the oldest brother, Harry, who had bought the film rights for Jack and his elder brother, Sam, to produce.


“If you can’t take my word,” shouted Jack,

“let’s forget the deal.”


Jessel always insisted it wasn't the money but the new script that made him leave -it changed the ending of Jackie Rabinowitz taking his cantor father's place in the synagogue.

More likely, Jack Warner felt that Jessel (like Harry) was too Jewish for the more assimilated family drama he envisaged as opposed to Harry's dream of "a good picture... for the sake of racial tolerance."

Jack tested more assimilated, all-American Jews.


Buster Collier Jr was his favourite.

Except his test proved flat.

making Eddie Cantor a hot, if reluctant contender.

“Impossible,said Eddie, “to match Jessel.”


Jolson repeated his interest and signed - for $75,000 - and finally made his story.  Raphelson (a future Lubitsch scenarist) admitted that seeing a Jolson concert at college had inspired his story.  However, he elt the resulting first talkie was "an ill-felt, silly, maudlin, badly timed thing."

Producer Sam Warner, who got his four feuding  brothers into the movie game  in  1905,  died after surgery tor a sinus infection the day before  the historic premiere of  October 6,  1927.  The night  when Vitaphone allowed Jolson  (who had sung on-screen in April  Showers, 1926) to actually speak.   Indeed,  to prophesy. "You ain't heard nuttin' yet..."

PS from 2019.  Francis Coppola, at 80, iis talking with Hollywood;s fin est interviwer, Deadlinbe’s co-editor Mike Fleming Jr.  "My grandfather, incidentally, is a man who engineered and built the Vitaphone. My father’s father built the machine that enabled The Jazz Singer, and I have pictures of him with the Vitaphone. So, now that my granddaughter, Gia, has made her first movie, the Coppola family is five generations deep in the movie business, which is weird and amazing if you think that the movie business is only 110 or 120 years old.."

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