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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 | Add 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?


Richard Fleischer - the director - told Laurence Olivier that he did not like his Jewish accent, although that Olivier told him he used the same accent he played with in The Boys From Brazil. See more »


Jess sings to an audience in California in the middle of the movie. At the end of the movie he is singing to an audience in New York (it is assumed from the progression of the film) and it is quite obviously the same audience and venue. A number of audience members are present in both scenes. There is a woman with glasses wearing a vest and white shirt, a man in the middle of the audience with a checked cap, and a large man having a great time down front clapping very excitedly. See more »


Molly Bell: I'm with Keith Lennox productions. Molly. Molly Bell. That's what they call me. My real name is a lot longer.
Jess Robin: So's mine.
Molly Bell: Belengocavela?
Jess Robin: Rabinovitch?
Molly Bell: Oh. That's not bad.
See more »


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


Words and Music by Neil Diamond and Gilbert Bécaud
Orchestra Arranged and Conducted by Tom Hensley
© 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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