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It's not really a musical because it's mostly silent.  Most books call it a part-talkie.  I think they mean first full length musical.  That's the danger of saying that anything is the "first."

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46 minutes ago, Suzanne1228 said:

It's not really a musical because it's mostly silent.

So, a gap where there's no music means a film is no longer a musical? We'll have to cancel all of the films save Tommy!

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This is a tough one, and Suzanne1228 is correct (IMHO) when she warns of the danger of saying that anything is the "first" of its kind. All of the sound sequences in Jazz Singer, except for a couple of brief ad libs by Jolson, are musical numbers.  So you could easily say, "See, this is the first musical."  On the other hand, the film wasn't intended as a musical, per se. It was produced as a (silent) melodrama with a few musical sequences.  So can you truly call it a musical?  Probably not, really.  But it's pretty cool to say that the first talkie was also the first musical.  So ...

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Again, The Jazz Singer isn't even the first talkie.  Jolson himself made the Vitaphone short A Plantation Act in 1926.  Alice Guy-Blache was experimenting with sound in 1905.  There are DeForrest Phonofilms with sound from the early 1920s.  A lot of similar things were going on in various places.  That's why it's hard to pinpoint a first of anything.

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I do think that if you are doing a history of the musical film or even film in general, The Jazz Singer deserves recognition for its historical importance and at least discussion.  The Love Parade also came out in 1929, although later in the year than The ?Broadway Melody.  It was much more innovative and was nominated for best picture, actor, and director.  I hope the discussions will be broader in the future.

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I believe that "The Jazz Singer" was considered the first "Talkie" since it was the first time anyone's voice was heard from the screen. Yes, there was music, but it wasn't the same as a "musical" which is built around the music rather than music included in a film.

By the same understanding, "You Have Mail" could be considered a musical, which it is not. The music complements but is not the focus. I think that's the difference. 

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7 hours ago, tnmorgen said:

The music complements but is not the focus.

The Jazz Singer is about a singer. It features eight songs performed on camera. (Not counting Kaddish.) The music seems pretty important to me.

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