The Making of 'Mary Poppins
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“You cannot capture a man’s entire life in two hours. All you can hope is to leave the impression of one”.
Jolson Sings Again (1949)
…or ‘how we made Jolson popular again’. This sequel to The Jolson Story opens with that movie’s final scene and devotes the last third of its running time to the making of the biopic. Between these two bookends, Jolson Sings Again once more takes its cue from the title character. Unfortunately, whereas the initial Jolson’s raison d'être was to entertain at all costs, this Jolson has grown old and tired.
Jaded by the demands of performing, Jolson retires from show business to pursue other interests, travelling, gambling and investing in sports. But while searching for ‘that bluebird of happiness’, other events take a more downbeat turn. Hitler’s persecution of the Jews causes Jolson to question his lifestyle and to top it all off, the filmmakers decide to finally kill off his mother, more than forty years after she actually died.
This all leads to Jolson returning to the stage, becoming one of the first entertainers to perform for the troops. Yet the boundless energy that propelled The Jolson Story has been replaced by a perspiring Jolson who contracts malaria, collapses, loses a lung and is laid up in hospital. Just when all seems lost, an old fan proposes the idea of a making a movie about his life.
Though this last part of the movie is easily its’ most entertaining, the difference between the two biopics is highlighted by the almost seven minutes of The Jolson Story footage reused for that movie’s premier.
as Al Jolson
as Larry Parks
Jolson's last wife's name was Erle Galbraith, not Ellen Clark. Furthermore, instead of being a nurse, she was an X-ray technologist who he met while giving a show at a military hospital.
Biopic has great fun with Larry Parks as Al Jolson coaching Larry Parks as Larry Parks in how to imitate Al Jolson.