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When the feds came with a search warrant to comb over the Hill residence in Goodfellas (and get the wheels greased), Karen allows them in a blasé manner, and resigns herself to watch TV with her children.

We see she is watching Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer:

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Scorsese doesn't so much as breathe on set without having a good reason. Why did he choose this program? Is Karen hearkening to a simpler time? She was born in the mid-40's. (too late to have lived in an era where this a part of her upbringing) Surely there must be a purpose or statement that Scorsese put this in the film.

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Karen Hill was a Jewish kid alienated from her family, much as Jakie Rabinowitz (Al Jolson) in The Jazz Singer. I've also read that Scorsese was implying that his film was groundbreaking, similar to The Jazz Singer in that it was groundbreaking because it was the first ever movie to use synchronized sound.

There's also an interesting dichotomy between the chaos going on around her, while some guy joyously whistles and chirps on her TV.

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Al Jolson also did a film in 1936 called The Singing Kid and it has been said that the Jolson clip is in the film to foreshadow Henry (The Kid) singing to the FBI to stay out of prison. I know the clip is from the Jazz Singer so the theory may not be accurate but I like the idea very much.

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    if you have a resource(s) to back up this claim, this would be a better answer – Vishwa Jul 8 at 2:57
  • I made no claim. I said ‘it has been said’ I.e speculation. I also said it was a theory I.e not proven and I stated it may not be accurate. I made no claim therefore have no burden of proof. Maybe you should re-read my answer. – Aus Man Jul 12 at 6:12
  • Hi, it was just a suggestion. I read your answer and that's why I suggested to put something to back it up. good answer is considered to be something provable. anyway, Welcome to Movies and TV SE. hope you enjoy and contribute to this community :) – Vishwa Jul 12 at 6:25

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