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This is one the best rock 'n roll movies ever made, but that doesn't
say much since there haven't too many that much good to begin with.
However, this IS good.
It features solid music by John Cafferty, whose "The Dark Side," is played quite a bit during the movie but is a great song and always enjoyable to hear. The movie also has interesting characters and a somewhat intriguing story. The story features a decent imitation of a Jim Morrison-type lead singer without getting too dramatic.
A very young Ellen Barkin is the female lead here. She looked better when she got a bit older. A young Joe Pantolione also is in here and Michael Pare was effective as the lead singer.
Don't listen to the national film critics who didn't care for the film. The public liked it and most times, they are a better judge.
Mystery surrounds the death of a rising rock star in director Martin Davidson's `Eddie and the Cruisers,' starring Tom Berenger and Michael Pare. With one successful album under their belts, lead singer and guitarist Eddie Wilson (Pare) takes his Cruisers into the recording studio to make an album he hopes will stand the world on its collective ear. Drawing the title from a work by Nineteenth Century poet Arthur Rimbaud, they begin to lay down tracks for `A Season In Hell.' But all is not well with Eddie and the band; there is dissent, and at least one among them, bassist Sal Amato (Matthew Laurance) disagrees with the direction in which Eddie has taken their music. Early one morning, toward the end of the recording sessions, Eddie's car goes off a bridge into the river; his body is never found. Now, eighteen years later, a reporter, Maggie Foley (Ellen Barkin) is doing a story on the Cruisers, and attempting to uncover the mystery behind the disappearance of the master tapes from the recording sessions, which inexplicably vanished the day after Eddie's apparent death. Pare is perfectly cast as Eddie, the Bruce Springsteen-like rocker; he lip-synchs convincingly to John Cafferty's vocals and deftly captures the persona of an early sixties rock n' roll idol on the rise. Tom Berenger (who is actually the star of the movie) does an excellent job as lyricist Frank Ridgeway, the keyboard player known as `Word Man' by the band. Davidson tells the story by effectively using flashbacks, through which we get to know Eddie and his band, and which establishes the relationships so pertinent to the present day conflicts which emerge during Foley's investigation of Eddie and the missing tapes. The focus is mainly on Ridgeway, therefore as the story unfolds it is predominately from his perspective that we learn what really happened, especially on that last night in the recording studio. That there is a comparison being drawn between Eddie and Jim Morrison of The Doors is unmistakable; the plot draws heavily on the myth that Morrison (and Eddie) is still alive and may have `Pulled a Rimbaud.' Poet Rimbaud (who is considered a genius, and to whom the creation of the form of modern poetry as we know it is attributed) committed `artistic suicide' at the age of nineteen, at which time he abruptly quit writing and disappeared for the next twenty years, only to reappear at last on his deathbed in France. That the title of Rimbaud's masterpiece is `A Season In Hell' is no coincidence. The parallels are drawn convincingly, which heightens the interest and adds to the credibility of the mystery. The supporting cast includes Joe Pantoliano (Doc), Helen Schneider (Joann), David Wilson (Kenny), Michael Antunes (Wendell) and Kenny Vance (Lew). An excellent soundtrack of original songs, written and performed by John Cafferty, provided Davidson with a solid base from which to launch his story. `Eddie and the Cruisers' is entertaining, if not entirely memorable, but the music and performances are good, and all in all this movie will do for a pleasant evening's viewing, with maybe a little popcorn thrown in for effect. If you haven't seen this one, try it out; I think you'll be glad you didn't let it pass you by. I rate this one 7/10.
Disregard what the big time movie reviewers may say! Despite a poor sound track, there is much more to this film than is obvious within one viewing. It took me awhile to get into it, but once I did, I loved it more with each viewing. The underlying premise of the film, that there was, indeed, a definitive crossover point between the innocent early rock and roll music of the 1950's and the deeper coming of age sounds of the mid to late sixties is quite real. And the charismatic title character "Eddie" has sensed this change in the wind, but is unable to convey his vision to those around him. Yes, there are a little too many flashback scenes for my taste, but all in all the film had something to say that deserves to be heard.
I saw this movie when my family first got cable television. I watched it once, then twice, then the next thing I know I had watched it about 30 times. The story is well told through flashbacks and current events. the casting is good. Michael Pare is Eddie Wilson. Every time I have seen him since, that's the first thing I think about. Tom Berenger is also very good. His character starts out as naive and innocent and then begins to grow as we grow with him. This movie is totally addictive.
Basically this film is a nostalgic musical for all Rock'n Roll fans. There
are some good numbers that will set toes tapping and hands clapping while
Eddie belts out lyrics such as "On the dark side" of "Betty-Lou's got a new
pair of shoes". But as a bonus and for those not so interested in the beat,
the writers have thrown in some drama with a touch of mystery.
When Eddie Wilson crashed over a bridge in his car, his body was never found. Could that mean he is still alive? He certainly lives on in the hearts of the Cruisers. And what's more, there are unexpected phone callers that sound like Eddie and there's a car like Eddie's that dips its lights in the same way that Eddie used to do. The belief that he may still be alive is reinforced, even though Eddie died some 18 years ago. An intriguing situation!
Much of the film is in flash-back, jumping to & fro between the band of to-day and the band of years gone by. One adjusts quickly because Eddie it seems always wears a black leather jacket.
In a particular interesting scene Eddie takes his girl friend to an old junk yard one night. He explains that as a kid he used to hang out there. One of the workers at the yard built a castle of steel from bits and pieces selected from the dump. Eddie in a growing mood of despondency explains it is a memorial to nothing. Much like the boys from Jersey, they built up a band from nothing. I liked the analogy. "Long live nothing" he screams below the huge junk heap now illuminated with a million light bulbs.
It is interesting that fans refuse to let their rock stars die. I guess it is true that they really do live on in the songs that they created.
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.
This is probably my all-time favorite movie. I can't explain why in terms to satisfy most people though. It's just one of those things. I love the music and have been to see John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band many times since the release of this movie. The idea that a prominent celebrity could vanish from society is a thrilling storyline for this movie. Its movies like these that help people whose loved ones are missing to keep the faith. It also breeds fantasy that stars like Elvis and Jim Morrison are still alive. I could write more but I'd rather go watch this movie!!!
Michael Paré delivers his best performance as Eddie Wilson, a talented young singer who strives to achieve the perfect original sound with lyrics that reach deep within the soul forever. Eddie draws the necessary ingredients required to create his vision through Frank Ridgeway, a young man with an Ivy League education who has a passion for poetry. Powered by a sensational Rock n Roll soundtrack, Eddie and the Cruisers takes you on a journey through a glimpse of the other band members lives more than twenty years after. Their music is in the charts again, and the Cruisers are bigger and hotter than ever. But the tragic disappearance of Eddie in 1964 still haunts their minds and their lives, but now they must deal with the creation of a legend more thant wenty years after they were the hottest sound in town. Eddie and the Cruisers is well directed with solid performances by the cast. But it is the intense image created by Michael Paré's performance, that makes you believe in the legend.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was 15 when this movie was released, and I LOVED IT. Eddie and the Cruisers is one of those AWESOME movies. I remember partying to it and watching at least 100+ times. It is a movie the seems to describe a lot of what was going on in the 80's even though it was supposed to be set in the 60's. Eddie was a music "ICON" for us, John John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band were awesome, and the music still lives on today. As a child of the "80's" a Gen."X" child, we are called the Lost Generation and Eddie was also lost,and showed how a lot of us felt, just disappear... Again, if you haven't seen this movie, you really NEED to. It is truly a Classic 80's movie. Also, watch garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores. You can sometimes find the Soundtrack which is also awesome. My Ex-husband recently found it in a box a friend gave him, and the first time he listened to "The Dark Side" it took him back again..
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Let me preface this by saying that I was born in 1949. I have lived through the evolution of rock 'n roll. Beginning with my older (7 yrs) sister's obsession in the 50s and watching American Bandstand as a child. Although Perry Como was my first idol, that quickly evolved. And, yes, I am still a Beatles Girl. I think that I was one of the few people that actually saw this movie (twice) in its original theatrical release in 1983. I was mesmerized. Yes, it could have been the combo of Pare and Berringer, et al. Truthfully, it is THE perfect blend of music, characters, mystery (Old Nancy Drew enthusiasts do not fade away), add a dash of "chuck it all, I am out of here" - and who among us has not entertained THAT idea? -class distinction (college kids and working class) you have the perfect recipe for a kick arse movie. I think it is significant that it is set in 1963, in that tiny little sliver of time that was post JFK election (change and youth), his assassination (November 1963) and before The Beatles/British invasion (February 1964). When this movie was made, MTV was barely a toddling toddler (born 1981) and they actually played music. Anyway, here it is thirty years later and I am accidentally catching this movie again on AMC. The music, characters, and story line are still viable. Even the onslaught of 30 years of "life is what happens when you are planning something else", this movie still mesmerizes me.
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