Since this is Oscar week, I thought I’d write about Neil Diamond’s one and only film so far, The Jazz Singer. The film didn’t receive any Academy Award nominations, although Diamond did receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor, and “Love On The Rocks” was nominated for Best Original Song. Diamond won a Razzie (Golden Rasberry) Award for Worst Actor and The Jazz Singer was nominated for Worst Movie.
The soundtrack to The Jazz Singer was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Album of an Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special.
The Jazz Singer received mixed reviews when it was released in 1980. A remake of the 1927 Al Jolson classic, The Jazz Singer stars Neil Diamond as Yussel Rabinovitch, a young Jewish man who has dreams of becoming a pop singer. Yussel defies his father, a cantor (Sir Laurence Olivier) and his wife Rivka, and heads to California to pursue his dream.
He changes his name to Jess Robin, meets Molly (Lucie Arnaz), a woman who has the same dream as him, and drifts apart from his family. Jess’s father encourages Rivka to go to California in the hopes that she can get Jess to embrace his Jewish roots and return home to New York.
Jess has fallen in love with Molly, and informs his father that he and Rivka are getting divorced. Jess is living with Molly, and recording his songs, which is all he’s ever wanted to do. During a recording session that goes from bad to worse, Jess runs off and spends several months on the road. He winds up finding work as a singer at a bar. One of his bandmates tracks him down, and tells him that Molly has given birth to a son. Jess did not know that Molly was pregnant when he left. He returns to Molly, and his son. Molly hopes that Jess can revive his career, and is given a second chance.
During a rehearsal for a concert in New York, a friend of his father tracks Jess down at the concert hall. The friend informs Jess that his father’s doctor will not let him perform the Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur due to high blood pressure. He asks Jess if he will do it. Jess relents and goes to the synagogue on Yom Kippur to do the Kol Nidre. It is a surprise to his father, as he did not know that Jess was going to be there. Later, Jess gives his concert, and his father attends.