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The Jazz Singer
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Jazz Singer More at IMDbPro »

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32 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

What's the Deal? Need more NEIL!

Author: Clint Ford from Dallas, Texas
10 July 2002

Okay... all these submissions below? Ignore them. Here's the real scoop.

The biggest problem most folks have with this film is that they're comparing the two male leads' acting ability. BIG MISTAKE.

One is Neil Diamond-- one of the greatest singers of all time. The other is Sir Laurence Olivier-- one of the greatest ACTORS of all time. Think of it this way: if Sir Larry accompanied Neil in a recording of "Cherry, Cherry"-- people would rave about Neil's performance, but then spend an hour going on about how much Olivier sucks.

The fact is this: neither of them suck. Everything is great! Neil Diamond is a fine actor. (Not an AMAZING actor, mind you... but a fine actor.) He'd even beaten out Dustin Hoffman for the role of Lenny Bruce in "Lenny", but turned it down... leaving the door open for Hoffman.

I made the mistake of reading all of the below jeers and whines about Neil Diamond's "terrible acting performance" in this movie. I then watched it over at my girlfriend's house with very low expectations. But I was very impressed, and greatly enjoyed the film. Granted, there are some times when Neil's performance isn't exactly as dramatic as it should be... (i.e., when his father shrieks "I HAVE NO SON!!", Neil doesn't exactly seem to be heartbroken.) But then, there are times when he manifests a great deal of emotional power... especially in the scenes where he gets angry.

Okay, so I'm a huge Neil Diamond fan, yes. I love his music, and I think it's cool that he's had a lead in a major motion picture. BUT-- from an acting perspective, he has my respect. From one actor to another. (YES, I consider him an "actor" too... and so does the IMDb.)

I only have two complaints: one is that this is the only movie he's been in until Saving Silverman-- where he had just a cameo. That sucks. I want to see Neil in more movies.

The other complaint is what everyone else doesn't like: "The Jazz Singer". AL JOLSON sung Jazz. NEIL DIAMOND sings Pop. Soooooo... couldn't it have been called "The Pop Singer", and had an addition in the credits that read, "Based on 'The Jazz Singer' by Al Jolson" or something?

Anyway... the music is great, (even "Love on the Rocks"-- and I'm not a big ballad fan... as they depress me. But I can't dislike a Neil song.) the movie is a great story, and the acting is FINE. Watch it. If you're a fan of Neil's, or even just a fan of 20+ year old movies that have good stories.... check out "The Jazz Singer".

--and by the way.... neil diamond rules. thank you.

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20 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A great score applied to a great story

Author: SmgBag1 from United States
26 May 2006

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.

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17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A microcosm of a man in turmoil, facing a difficult choice...

Author: lancer525 from CSRA, Georgia
20 June 2003

Between his duties and responsibilities, and his dreams and love. For those who want to pick the movie apart, without looking inside the story it tells, skip this comment.

Given the choice between one's responsibility to family, parents, religion, tradition, and duty, or choosing love, dreams, goals, and the pursuit of happiness through following our heart, which choice would we make?

The movie tells a story of strength through failure, of living versus wasting away in a life spent pleasing others, and of giving our heart and our dreams sway over the path we take in life.

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Neil Diamond - still number one.

Author: nolbar from Australia
24 January 2008

The Jazz Singer with Neil Diamond is one of my favorite movies. How can anyone say he can't act? Every time I suggest to my husband that we watch it, he usually doesn't want to because he reckons it is one of the saddest movies of all time. I keep saying "They are only acting and it does work out in the end after all" but I still have trouble getting him to watch it and I usually have to agree to watch 'Going my Way" first!!!! Neil Diamond in concert is fabulous. Neil Diamond acting is nearly as good. I also can't understand why Lucy Arnez didn't make it as an actress, having famous parents must be a disadvantage in some cases.

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15 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

I'm in shock

Author: ( from United States
20 October 2007

I love Neil Diamond. I had always heard of this film, but never knew what it was about, what type of reviews it got... anything. So I Netflixed it this weekend, and I loved it. There were even times where I got choked up in parts.

So I came on here, saw the negative overall reviews, and was SHOCKED when I learned Neil won the Razzie Award for Worst Actor for this. I thought he did a very fine job. The story unfolded very nicely, the love story was genuine... I would say this film was even better than the "music" genre film Dreamgirls.

Sure it had it's glitches here and there, but for the most part I was very pleased.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

No Jazz

Author: tedg ( from Virginia Beach
11 November 2008

I like to see remakes, because in many cases you experience two films at once: the film you are watching of course, and the one you recall. Usually that prior one is pretty good. In this case, it IS pretty good, and historically important too.

It was the first popular talkie, and not all talkie either. It was pretty amazing in depicting New York Jewry in a way gathered from the reality of the era, and on that score alone is fascinating. It was perhaps overly melodramatic, but suitably severe. And its "message" though simple wasn't quite dumb: that "jazz" music can be sacred work if delivered so. Along the way, we got (still!) entertaining songs.

Now this. I do not know what prompted the remake. It seems that they simply had Neil Diamond and saw a fit. He is Jewish. He has a fantastic portfolio of songs, some of which seem written for the project, and he is at least a credible actor. So they tromped through the old script, modernizing as they went. They shifted the focus to the music and the self- discovery of the musician. The rift with the father is recast as upset over sex rather than jazz, something I think is a big mistake.

And the script and production values (other than the songs) is horrible, Laurence Olivier embarrasses himself and us all every thing he speaks with some sort of faux stage accent. he is truly dreadful. Everyone is, save one, but he is the worst. The only good actor is on screen only a few times: he is the booker, played by Sully Boyar, and every time he shows up to speak, the sun shines. Doesn't kill the mold though.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

The Jazz Singer-When Accommodations Were Made ***1/2

Author: edwagreen from United States
17 February 2008

Wonderful version of a cantor's son in conflict over his orthodox Jewish beliefs and his desire to be a singing star.

The only major flaw that I had with this film is that by the orthodox Jewish people, there is no accommodation made whatsoever in the field of intermarriage. If it occurs, the person intermarrying is regarded as dead as depicted in the film.

Caitlin Adams, who portrayed Jesse's wife Rivka, is true to life since she chose to break with her husband due to her orthodox beliefs. Others might argue that their marriage was headed towards a downward spiral anyway.

Laurence Olivier is absolutely mesmerizing as Diamond's father. His authentic Jewish accent and tearing his clothes are memorable.

Diamond's voice is superb and is acting is on par for the role. "Love on the Rocks," as well as "Acapulco," and "Coming to America" are wonderfully staged.

In the world of today, we need understanding and accommodation and that's exactly what we get in this fine film.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Infamous flop

Author: jjnxn-1 from United States
8 May 2013

Dreadful piece of tripe was a career low point for all involved. Although I heard she is good on stage, a medium whose best performers often can not transition to pictures, Lucie Arnaz just did not possess the magnetism to be a film star. She's bland and uninteresting but even with that she still gives the best performance in the movie! Neil Diamond is a fine singer but as this movie proved his gifts did not reach to acting competency. The great Laurence Olivier sinks right along with the rest by giving a ham-hock of a performance, perhaps his worst ever. Badly directed and antiquated even when shot originally in the twenties this is a total miss.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Not really a remake

Author: laholly from United States
29 March 2006

The biggest mistake that Neil Diamond made in doing this film was calling it "The jazz singer",because it is not a remake of the classic Jolson film. That said, let me say that i really enjoyed this film.

Diamond does and admirable job as the young would be cantor caught between his love of music and his love for his father, and he doesn't seem to be intmidated by the fact that Laurence Olivier plays his father. The film moves fairly well once Yussel decides to follow his dream and pursue a career in music. It probably isn't the best movie ev er made, but it is certainly worth a look. And the music score is wonderful. "America" (coming to America) became an anthem for immigrants at the time the movie was made.

Definitely worth a look

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

No Jazz, but still a great story

Author: Glendon Gross from United States
27 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I liked this movie even though there was no jazz, because I thought the story worked. The theme of whether to follow one's dream or stick with wife and family is significant and was treated well. Neil Diamond may not be a great actor, but he made me believe in his role and he made up for his acting limitations with his music, which I found appropriate to the larger context of the film. When his father disowns him because he has left his wife for a gentile woman I found Lawrence Olivier's performance quite dramatic and effective. I also saw genuine character development in Neil Diamond's character and thought the issues he was wrestling with were familiar and helpful to any musician trying to balance career and family.

The tension between father and son is real throughout the movie and I liked the way Neil Diamond and Lawrence Olivier portrayed that tension.

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