The Jazz Singer is a 1980’s film starring Neil Diamond as a talented vocalist torn between tradition and family and his dreams of becoming a successful pop singer. Starring Neil Diamond and Laurence Olivier ‘The Jazz Singer’ tells the story of a fifth generation cantor Yussel Rabinovitch (played by Diamond) who on the side pursues a career as a pop singer named Jess Robin. His two worlds collide when he performs in blackface at a club and ends up in jail, only to be bailed out by his father (played by Olivier).
Universally panned by critics, the film still found an audience brought in $27 million on a $13 million budget. Diamond took home best actor at the Golden Globes for his performance in 1981. He also received the worst actor award from the Golden Raspberry Awards.
The film holds a special place in Jewish culture, speaking to the conflicts between generations, assimilation and responsibilities of making sure Jewish legacies and traditions remain.