The Jazz Singer (1980) starring Neil Diamond, Laurence Olivier, Lucie Arnaz, Catlin Adams directed by Richard Fleischer Movie Review

The Jazz Singer (1980)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Neil Diamond in The Jazz Singer (1980)

The Neil Diamond Showcase

Yussel Rabinovitch (Neil Diamond) has spent his life doing what is expected of him especially what his father Cantor Rabinovitch (Laurence Olivier) expects of him despite having a yearning for the music business. When a friend, Bubba (Franklyn Ajaye) who he writes songs, for tells him to get his butt out to L.A. immediately he leaves his father and wife, Rivka (Caitlin Adams), to go. Securing a gig as a song writer under than name of Jackie Robin things don't go brilliantly when he ends up angering British rocker Keith Lennox (Paul Nicholas). But early failures don't put Yussel off who becomes even more determined to make it to the big time despite the constant moaning of his father who wants him to return home and the romantic tribulations as he becomes close to his agent Molly (Lucie Arnaz).

Despite its significance I am yet to see the original "The Jazz Singer" or the previous 1952 remake and that may be in my favour as it seems this 1980 version of "The Jazz Singer" is hated by some professional critics. In fact I read one review which took me a back as I had never read such an assault on a movie before a movie which to be honest is not as terrible as some make it out to be.

Lucie Arnaz in The Jazz Singer (1980)

Okay so "The Jazz Singer" has some issues and they range from an over acting Laurence Olivier to Neil Diamond who whilst not terrible in front of camera seems to struggle with making eye contact when delivering his lines. There are issues with tone as well because it seems the drama of the story, of Yussel making it as a star has been diluted with some lighter moments which verge on the comedy such as an early scene which with Yussel masquerading as one of his friends in their group is a homage to the original "The Jazz Singer", a scene which unless you understand that it is a homage to Al Jolson may not be understood.

But there is the real truth about "The Jazz Singer" and it is simply a movie for fans of Neil Diamond, for those who love his singing voice and his songs. If you don't fit in to that group you will notice the utter lack of realism when it comes to how events play out, how an untried singer working as a warm up act for a comedian gets an entire band as his backing. But if you enjoy Diamond's songs and his voice you will just sit back and enjoy the numerous musical scenes as well as the ease of the story, those lighter moments and frankly the appeal of Lucie Arnaz.

What this all boils down to is that "The Jazz Singer" with Neil Diamond is quite simply for fans of Neil Diamond, who will enjoy listening to so many of his great songs. If you don't fit in to that category then "The Jazz Singer" will end up a less than realistic remake which ends up feeling like an almost 2 hour music video.