Neil Diamond stars as Yussel in this tale of a young Jewish cantor who strives to make a career in music. Against the wishes of his rigid father and his loving wife, Yussel travels to California to play his music. Swept up by the excitement, he meets a woman who shares his dream. He grows apart from his family, and becomes confused about what he should ultimately do with his life.
Not much jazz spoken in this 1980 version of the Jolson classic, directed by Richard Fleischer (The Vikings) and starring a very tentative Neil Diamond as a cantor's son who would rather sing commercially than in a synagogue. The soundtrack is tedious, the portrait of L.A.'s music industry preposterous, and Diamond (despite his talents as a singer-songwriter in the real world) can't help but look like a speck on the wall in the presence of Laurence Olivier, who plays his father. --Tom Keogh