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The Jazz Singer (1980)

PG  |   |  Drama, Music, Romance  |  19 December 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 2,825 users  
Reviews: 58 user | 16 critic

The son of a Jewish Cantor must defy the traditions of his religious father in order to pursue his dream of being a popular singer.



(play), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jess Robin / Yussel Rabinovitch
Molly Bell
Rivka Rabinovitch
Keith Lennox
Sully Boyar ...
Eddie Gibbs
James Booth ...
Paul Rossini
Luther Waters ...
Oren Waters ...
Rod Gist ...
Walter Janovitz ...
Rabbi Birnbaum (as Walter Janowitz)
Janet Brandt ...
Aunt Tillie
M.C. Cinderella Club


Neil Diamond stars in this motion picture as Yussel Rabinovitch, a young Jewish cantor who strives to make a career outside the synagogue in popular music as Jess Robin. Against the wishes of his rigid father and his loving wife, Yussel travels from New York City to Los Angeles to play his music. Swept up by the excitement, he meets a spunky manager who believes in his talent and shares his dream. He grows apart from his family, and becomes confused about what he should ultimately do with his life. Written by Ted Kula <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sometimes you have to risk it all... See more »


Drama | Music | Romance


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

19 December 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Jazz-Sänger  »

Box Office


$27,118,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (DVD version)| (DVD version)|


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Publicity for this picture stated that singer Neil Diamond had released twenty seven gold and fourteen platinum albums. See more »


When Jess' father comes to visit him in California and they walk into the apartment, Jess never shuts the door completely. Later when Molly comes home, we hear the sound of the door opening. See more »


Bubba: Boom boom boom! I want more boom boom boom! I want more boom boom boom!
See more »


Referenced in Designing Women: The Proxy Pig and Great Pretenders (1989) See more »


On the Robert E. Lee
Words and Music by Neil Diamond and Gilbert Bécaud
© 1980 Stonebridge Music and EMA Suisse
See more »

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User Reviews

A great score applied to a great story
26 May 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I try to go into a movie uncolored with opinions, and thankfully hadn't heard any negative reviews on this one prior to seeing it for the first time in 1980. That allowed me to view it with an open mind.

The score is superb. It's what makes the movie what it is. The songs fit the mood in every scene, and are all well-placed. The acting, while not the best I've ever seen, isn't nearly as bad as made out to be by critics. Let's face it. Neil Diamond is not an actor. He is a singer, a performer. In this movie he does that very well. And yet, he manages to pull off his character, Yussel Rabinovich, without a hitch. His scenes with Sir Lawrence Olivier are touching and believable. They are indeed a good match as father and son cantors. But for Yussel, his heritage isn't enough. His music roots drive him, and that's what he sets out to discover. Against the will of his father, and over the protest of his wife Rivka, he leaves his home in New York for L.A. and seeks his destiny.

Lucie Arnaz turns in a good performance as Molly Bell, a "retired" music promoter who sees potential in Yussel and takes him under her wing. What follows is a tug-of-war, a battle of values—old and new—as Neil's character, now Jess Robin, climbs the charts professionally, yet never really forgets where he came from.

Watching Neil perform in this movie is like seeing one of his concerts. He's all-show, and not a bit shy. When he picks up a guitar, you know you're in for a treat, and he does music as only he can. It's a great story, well-told and, on the whole, well-acted. Neil gives emotions where called for. But in this movie, the music's the star. That's where Neil really delivers.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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