A look back at this day in film history
May 21
October 6, 1927
Jolson’s Jazz Singer breaks the movie sound barrier

It is not hyperbole to say that The Jazz Singer, released 80 years ago today, changed everything. The legendary All Jolson movie was the original “talkie,” with the newly developed Vitaphone sound system piping songs and dialogue into theater auditoriums for the very first time. Jolson’s words, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothin' yet!,” were the first in spoken in movie history — but with a lot of audiences, they really hadn’t heard anything yet. The Jazz Singer was a major success and one of the biggest films of 1927, but was not the overwhelming smash hit it could have been because most movie theaters outside of the major cities had not yet installed sound systems. It was not until 1928 that movie lovers throughout the country got to hear — rather than just see — what all the fuss was about.

More Flashbacks
Pickpocket May 21, 1959
Pickpocket opens

Robert Bresson, one of cinema’s great visionaries, and certainly among the most uncompromising of directors, released his first major work from an original screenplay, Pickpocket, in the U.S. on May 21, 1959.

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May 21, 1952
John Garfield dies

Today in 1952, the actor John Garfield died of a heart attack at the age of 39. His friends and family pointed fingers at the FBI and other anti-communist groups who’d hounded the young actor day and night for months. “He was under unbelievable stress. Phones were being tapped.

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