Trivia / The Jazz Singer

  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Breakaway Pop Hit: The 1980 version is less remembered than the three hit songs its star, Neil Diamond, wrote and performed for it: "Hello Again", "Love on the Rocks", and "America".
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The 1959 TV remake of The Jazz Singer has never been rebroadcast or distributed on any home format.
  • Troubled Production: The 1980 version suffered from a disastrous first few weeks of filming, when initial director Sidney J. Furie rewrote the screenplay beyond recognition and made several bizarre decisions such as hiring Laurence Olivier who had no known Jewish ancestry, and was well into his Money, Dear Boy phase to play the all-important part of Cantor Rabinovitch, and having Diamond perform a scene in blackface in total seriousness. After seeing how much money Furie had already wasted on useless footage, the producers fired him and replaced him with Richard Fleischer, who quickly realised what an enormous task he had on his hands when he checked the daillies and found that Diamond was wooden and unconvincing, while Olivier had decided to be as much of a Large Ham as possible, and this combined with original lead actress Deborah Raffin quitting in protest of Furie's dismissal (she was subsequently replaced by Lucie Arnaz, who was cast so hastily that they didn't even have time to screen test her) resulted in them having to ditch and reshoot virtually everything shot so far (except, bizarrely, the blackface sequence). Things ran a lot smoother under Fleischer, though the reshoots meant that they badly overran the original shooting schedule, causing the budget to balloon; Olivier for instance had time to leave the country, film scenes for Brideshead Revisited and direct a play, while being paid for this film all the while. Then, just to add insult to injury, after the film wrapped Olivier went out to dinner with some friends and talked about how disastrous the shoot had been, only for a reporter at a nearby table to overhear this and publish the story the following day, while conveniently leaving out the fact that Olivier had been talking about when Furie was directing the film, not Fleischer's subsequent work. The end product actually did pretty well at the box office, but was poorly reviewed and much less profitable than the studio had hoped for.