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The Jazz Singer (1980)

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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.


Richard Fleischer


Samson Raphaelson (play), Herbert Baker (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Neil Diamond ... Jess Robin / Yussel Rabinovitch
Laurence Olivier ... Cantor Rabinovitch
Lucie Arnaz ... Molly Bell
Catlin Adams ... Rivka Rabinovitch
Franklyn Ajaye ... Bubba
Paul Nicholas ... Keith Lennox
Sully Boyar Sully Boyar ... Eddie Gibbs
Mike Kellin ... Leo
James Booth ... Paul Rossini
Luther Waters Luther Waters ... Teddy
Oren Waters Oren Waters ... Mel
Rod Gist Rod Gist ... Timmy
Walter Janovitz Walter Janovitz ... Rabbi Birnbaum (as Walter Janowitz)
Janet Brandt Janet Brandt ... Aunt Tillie
John Witherspoon ... 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 <tkula@cs.wvu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Drama | Music | Romance


PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

19 December 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cantaretul de jazz See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

EMI Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby | DTS-ES (DVD version)| Dolby Digital EX (DVD version)| 70 mm 6-Track



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This was not the first theatrical movie to have music by Neil Diamond, as Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973) had had a background score composed by Diamond, for which it won a Best Original Score - Motion Picture Golden Globe award in 1974. See more »


When Molly gets in Eddie's car and has him listen to Love on the Rocks on her tape, she has Eddie turn the radio on and the volume up. The radio clearly has some kind of talk or news station playing and when Molly puts the cassette in, it locks down into the player like just about any tape deck would. However, when Eddie takes the tape out later, his arm motion clearly shows him pulling the tape out like an 8-track (no gesture of him pushing the eject button then taking it out) and the radio station doesn't come back on either. See more »


Keith Lennox: [to Jess] Thank you. That was, um, very nice. Now why don't you just piss off and take those four clowns with you.
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Referenced in Glee: Hell-O (2010) 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

No, but I bought the album...
2 January 2000 | by Mister-6See all my reviews

You know how some people read "Playboy" for the articles? This is one movie you'll only want to watch for the music. Especially if you're a Neil Diamond fan.

"The Jazz Singer" is supposed to be an update of the Al Jolson chestnut (replete with Diamond appearing in black-face at one point!!) but the only connection between these two films is that a cantor's son wants to break into show business. Other than that, they're about as similar as Chardonnay and Kool-Aid.

Diamond is a singer. Period. He can't act, he can't even look at people when he talks to them and he certainly doesn't have the charisma to carry a film. Olivier was a good actor... a looooong time ago. Here, he's just well-aged ham with an accent.

Like I said, the best part of this movie is the soundtrack. Heck, I have the CD and I love it. What Diamond fan doesn't know and/or love "America", "Hello Again", "Love on the Rocks" and even "On the Robert E. Lee"? I even liked where Diamond auditions for a spot as a country bar singer and breaks into "You are My Sunshine". It's not on CD, though. Bummer.

To sum up - all the dramatic highlights are really low-lights; the so-called actors involved with this should all turn in their SAG cards; and it's small wonder Fleischer has been regulated to directing films like "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid" and "Amityville 3: The Demon" after this disaster.

But at least it's a disaster you can dance to.

Three stars. For the music. Ignore all the rest of that "Jazz".

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