Jazz Singer, The
This is The Jazz Singer, 1980's-style. Practically the only scene it shares in style and spirit with the 1927 classic, in which Al Jolson played the cantor's son who abandons the synagogue for America's own national religion which is show-business, is the one where Neil Diamond returns to his faith-and the synagogue-to sing Kol Nidre in place of stricken papa. It is still a tear-jerker de-luxe. Otherwise director Richard Fleischer has up-dated ever element of Samuel Raphaelson's play (which in turn was based on Jolson's own life story).
Though the cantor (played by Laurence Olivier) is a recent immigrant to America, he comes from part of the world where his wife is killed by terrorists. Though his becomes an American success-story, Neil Diamond now does so in the Los Angeles record industry where he sells a million discs instead of walking a million miles ( for one of Mummy's' smiles). His music has changed AI's sentimental ballads, sung with all the stops out, to Diamond's distinctive brand of 'family rock'. He also has acquired a shiksa manager in the 50-odd years between the two films: a girl played by Lucie Arnaz who is all wised up to the media communications business, but still surrenders to that old True Love that can only be found backstage.
The ten songs which Diamond wrote for the film are neatly intergrated into it-thanks, in part, to the proliferation of recording studios in Los Angeles neighbourhoods. As for the acting, it is an inventive idea to have Diamond's fairly restrained naturalism set off against Olivier's eye-catching, gestural performance to which he brings another one of his idiosyncratic Middle-European accents. The two actors come from different generations, countries and acting (or, at least, entertainment) schools and fans of Olivier will find this film a collector's item.
Fans of Diamond's will find it as good value as the LP. If the makers haven't moved the original milestone movie up the road, they've at least done a fascinating job of extending the road into today's cinema entertainment.
Director: Richard Fleischer
Cast: Neil Diamond, Laurence Olivier, Lucie Arnaz, Catlin Adams, Franklyn Ajaye, Paul Nicholas, Sully Boyar, Mike Kellin, James Booth, Luther Waters, Oren Waters, Rod Gist
Genre: Music and Performing Arts, Drama
Jazz Singer, The
TVS 900304 2
* N/A or Unknown
Small Box - Rental Tape
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