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Crossroads (1986)

Ralph Macchio is Lightning Boy. A kid who can make a slide guitar sing. Blind Dog is an old pro who knows it. Together, they're headed to a place where deals are made. And legends are born.

Director:

Walter Hill

Writer:

John Fusco
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ralph Macchio ... Eugene Martone
Joe Seneca ... Willie Brown
Jami Gertz ... Frances
Joe Morton ... Scratch's Assistant
Robert Judd Robert Judd ... Scratch
Steve Vai ... Jack Butler
Dennis Lipscomb ... Lloyd
Harry Carey Jr. ... Bartender
John Hancock ... Sheriff Tilford
Allan Arbus ... Dr. Santis
Gretchen Palmer ... Beautiful Girl / Dancer
Al Fann ... Pawnbroker
Wally Taylor Wally Taylor ... O.Z
Tim Russ ... Robert Johnson
Tom Donaldson Tom Donaldson ... John McGraw (as Tex Donaldson)
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Storyline

Eugene is an extraordinary talent in classic guitar, but he dreams of being a famous Blues guitarist. So he investigates to find a storied lost song. He asks the legendary Blues musician Willie Brown to help him, but Willie demands to free him from the old-people's prison first and to really learn the blues on the way to its origin: Mississippi Delta. Eugene doesn't know yet about Willie's deal with the devil, that he now wants to revoke. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

'The Kid' keeps the legend alive.... See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 March 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Encrucijada See more »

Filming Locations:

Murphy, Mississippi, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,071,680, 16 March 1986, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$5,839,031
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Black and White (partial)| Color | Black and White (partial)| Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Though the blues guitar sounds aren't truly coming from Ralph Macchio's fingers, he plays the music of Steve Vai and Ry Cooder note for note. His fingering, slides and bends are precise until the "main" solo, which incorporates Niccolò Paganini's "5th Caprice", where he does not finger the correct locations on the guitar. He mostly uses the same pattern (scale on the top frets, then another one in the bottom frets). The scales shift and change sound, but his patterns remain the same. See more »

Goofs

Willie has money in his hands when he catches Frances sneaking out of their hotel room. Then his hands are empty before he goes to his bag to get money to give to Frances. See more »

Quotes

Willie Brown: They find out I can walk, they take away my Pontiac!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Ralph Macchio (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

EUGENE'S TRICK BAG
Written and Performed by Steve Vai
See more »

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User Reviews

Cult Classic with Incredible Music!
9 December 2003 | by cariartSee all my reviews

CROSSROADS (Walter Hill's Blues film, NOT Britney Spears' self-indulgent 2002 fluff) is a terrific introduction to a uniquely American 'sound', with a remarkable cast and southern 'atmosphere'. It has always astonished me that the film was not a hit when released, in 1986, but it's status as a cult classic is certainly well-deserved, with subsequent films like the Coens' O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? 'borrowing' the Robert Johnson subplot and many of the visual elements. Perhaps the film, with it's magnificent Ry Cooder score, was just too far ahead of it's time, a strange criticism to apply to a Blues movie!

The tale involves young Long Island guitar prodigy Eugene 'Lightning Boy' Martone (Ralph Macchio), a rebel at the Julliard School with his passion for the Blues ("Primitive music," one professor sneers), who is on a quest to recover legendary guitarist Robert Johnson's fabled "30th Song" of 1938. His research leads him to a New York nursing home, where fabled harmonica player Willie Brown (the late actor/singer/songwriter Joe Seneca) is confined. Promising to 'give' the song to the youngster if he can be "busted out" and returned to his Mississippi home, the pair are soon on a cross-country trip, with Martone learning about discrimination, the 'darker' side of Man, and love's loss (through a brief encounter with Jami Gertz, who was never lovelier), providing him with the core of sadness Brown says is essential to truly play the Blues.

The climax of the film is legendary; arriving home, Brown, who had 'sold his soul' to the Devil at the 'Crossroads' as a young man (just as his friend, Johnson, had), attempts to get 'Scratch' (skeletal Robert Judd) to tear up the contract. The Devil informs him that he will, only if Martone can defeat his Champion in a 'Guitar Duel'. If the youngster loses, his soul, as well as Brown's, will be lost, forever. Martone rashly agrees ("I don't believe any of this crap anyway!"), and he and Brown find themselves in a church converted into a dance hall, with demons and lost souls cavorting to the rock strains of insanely talented Jack Butler (Frank Zappa guitarist/composer Steve Vai). With only his love of the Blues, Julliard training, and Brown's 'ju-ju' to aid him, the humbled Martone must play for far more than his life, in a guitar 'Duel' with the rocker (both parts were actually performed by the astonishingly gifted Vai) that is so fabulous that it is amazing that it was NOT included in the soundtrack album!

Walter Hill was no stranger to music-themed fantasies (he also directed another 'ahead of it's time' cult film, STREETS OF FIRE), and with CROSSROADS he took a simple storyline, and turned it into an unforgettable musical experience.


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