Eddie and The Cruisers perform in the music video "On the Dark Side" from the original motion picture soundtrack to Eddie and the Cruisers (1983) recorded for CBS Records. The band performs... See full summary »
They say rock 'n' roll never dies, but one early morning in 1964, Eddie Wilson's car took a dive off a New Jersey bridge with the troubled rock idol at the wheel. His body was never found. Twenty years after the lead singer of Eddie and the Cruisers disappeared, the band's songs are hotter than ever. And renewed interest in the band leads television reporter Maggie Foley to pursue a tantalizing mystery: What if Eddie is still alive? The circumstances surrounding his death are just shadowy enough to make it a distinct possibility, and someone (could it be Eddie?) has been ransacking the homes of the surviving band members in a desperate search for tapes of the group's visionary, never-released album. As Maggie interviews the former band members, the pieces of the puzzle start to fit - but only until still deeper mysteries begin to surface. Written by
MGM/UA Home Video
When Frank is talking on the boardwalk, several of the passers-by stop to watch the scene. See more »
Are you crazy? We had the money in our hands and you blew it. You blew it!
[Eddie pushes him far back]
Eddie, you're wrong! You're wrong! Now listen to me, I love you. I've known you longer than anyone else. But you're wrong. They want "On the Dark Side"! Why are we giving them some damn opera? I don't even know what your after!
I want something great. I want something that nobody's ever done before!
Why? We ain't great. We're just some guys from Jersey.
If you can't be great, than ...
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This film, along with "Amadeus" and "This Is Spinal Tap", has woven its way into the culture and lingo of musicians around the world. Classic lines like, "Do it my way with the cesarean", "We ain't great--we're just a bunch of guys from Jersey", and the all time rocker, "WORDS AND MUSIC" (with the appropriate finger gesture), can be heard in every recording studio and rehearsal room in the English speaking world.
So if you're a musician--or even if you just want to hang out with musicians--you must watch this film, otherwise you'll look like a total n00b.
Even to non-musical audiences, this movie is a work of art. It's a nostalgic and poetic trip back to the early 1960s when America was just emerging from its cocoon of innocence. The entire film is a metaphor for this. Eddie's music, like life itself, dared to venture beyond the bubble gum into a world of complex social and personal issues... literally, the "Dark Side" of American life.
Once you grasp this fundamental theme, you will appreciate the entire film on a deep level. It's not just a rock'n'roll romp. It's a profound commentary on the growing pains our society endured in the 2nd half of the 20th century. Told in flashback, the story takes on a particularly tragic air, as if you were browsing through a dusty old scrapbook of your childhood memories, now gone forever.
The story/mystery is set in the first 5 minutes, and for the remaining 90 mins it unravels concurrently in 2 timelines to a brilliant finale. Acting is absolutely flawless, camera-work is both tense and dreamy, and the clincher is the fantastic music, a retro soundtrack by John Cafferty with songs you'd swear you'd heard from the 50s but were actually written in 1980: "On the Dark Side", "Tender Years" & "Wild Summer Nights" to name some of the best. Check em out on Youtube if you can.
Vivid characters bring this story to life. In "Eddie and the Cruisers", the two lead characters personify the duality of a soul. First there's Eddie (Michael Paré) who is the dark, explosive force yearning to evolve. His counterpart is the naïve kid Ridgeway (played by Tom Berenger showing off his amazing versatility as an actor--just 2 years before his role in "Platoon" as the sadistic Vietnam commander. Can you believe it's the same guy?!). The two characters wrestle with each other, at times best friends, at times worst enemies, but always bound together by the thread of music. I'll leave you to discover the philosophical implications of their conflict and its outcome.
Notable supporting performances are made by young actors Joe Pantoliana ("Risky Business", "The Fugitive", "The Matrix", perhaps best known for "The Sopranos"), Matthew Laurance (tons of 80s-90s TV), Ellen Barkin ("The Big Easy"), and Eddie's girl played by Helen Schneider who surprisingly never did any other feature films.
Some people criticize this film as being "B grade" or "cheezy". Sure, why not. To me, that only added to its charm. The 80s itself was a time of innocence & simplicity relative to today's gritty cinema. Isn't it fitting that we, living in our mega-produced, paranoid, cynical new millennium would enjoy watching an honest 80s flick which itself is taking a look back to the warmth of its prior generation? It's like a window within a window. Don't miss the magic of this experience.
I've seen 20 or 30 rock'n'roll films and this is hands down my favorite. Other faves include, by decade they depict, "Jailhouse Rock" (a surprisingly angsty 50s Elvis flick), of course "Eddie" (early 60s) and "Head" (late 60s trippy Monkees flick), "Spinal Tap" (a 70s metal spoof), "Music & Lyrics" (an 80s pop spoof), "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" (80s thru present day comeback attempt/comedy/documentary) and "Garage Days" (a 90s Aussie rock comedy by the director of "The Crow"). Worthy of note is "Looking for an Echo" (2000) by the same writer/director who did "Eddie", it presents a parallel story of what might've happened to a 50s singer if he slowly faded into obscurity.
Hope this review made sense to you. "I nearly broke my fingers" typing it. Haha. Watch the movie and you'll get it.
P.S. If you see the film, make note that "Wendell" the sax player is actually the one who played sax on the soundtrack. In addition, the writers went to great lengths to ensure that the instruments of the era were used (Wurlitzer 140b piano, old Fender Strat guitar, etc). But notice how the piano isn't plugged in! Doh! Almost perfect. Almost.
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