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I didn’t see the play. The movie is my only reference, that and a lifetime of Frankie.

Baby boomers take to Frankie Valli like hippies to the Dead, but it’s a closeted subject. It’s still to hard to decide if Frankie is cool, or not.

If the high voice bothers you, don’t tell Neil Young about it.

If it’s his size, don’t tell Bruce who’s no Jersey giant himself.

The songs? Steady, consistent, and covering decades. One hit wonders don’t make the Hall of Fame. Flashes in the pan don’t burn their sound into rock and roll history.

So what’s the problem with Frankie and Jersey Boys?

Clint nailed it when he had the Four Seasons (called the Four Lovers at the time) knock on doors inside the Brill Building, the song writing factory in New York. They’d sent a demo tape.

One man said, “You’re the Four Lovers? You’re not black? Come back when you’re black.”

Frankie Valli isn’t black but his voice goes Motown. He’s not a woman either, but he’s got dog-whistle highs.

What he is is a capitol E entertainer, a suited up boy bander with a high hair-do. He’s a throwback and a leap forward at the same time, hooking and landing fans in every era.

Will Jersey Boys do the same? I predict ‘cult’ status.

Clint Eastwood gives the best view of the fifties since the Godfather movies. It’s a look inside Italian homes, the moms and dads, the pressure to ‘make it.’

Like the young Michael Corleone’s reluctance to join the family business, young Frankie is lured toward crime and dodges away. In his neighborhood, a six month vacation in prison was the norm.

Clint shows the familiarity, the ease some of the guys move with, heading for jail and coming back out. Why the ease? Because they had protection from Christopher Walken’s elegant mob boss.

Protection runs through Jersey Boys, along with the guilt of the protected, and Frankie gets both.

John Lloyd Young plays Frankie like Jamie Foxx played Ray, like Joaquin Phoenix played Johnny Cash.

For some reason I keep seeing the young Al Pacino in Jersey Boys, which reflects well on John Young. He played Frankie from sixteen to sixty with the Pacino intensity combined with the the fixed expression of the real Frankie.

It’s a little scarey.

In Clint Eastwood’s hands Jersey Boys winds tighter and tighter, the strangulating piano wire of fame in America leaving dreams in the ditch.

He asks the question great directors ask: “What is the true cost of living the lives we lead?”

After Jersey Boys you’ll be asking your own question.

“Do I feel lucky?”

Jersey Boys will make your day.










About David Gillaspie
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