A look at Jersey Boys (M)
MAFIA boss Gyp DeCarlo from the mean streets of New Jersey takes a few neighbourhood boys under his wing and acts as their mentor. It’s the early 1950s and Gyp (Christopher Walken) is well aware that Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) and Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young) could spend most of their productive years behind bars.
Tommy’s the lead guitarist and self-appointed manager in a club band which isn’t setting any world records. It’s when he brings Frankie into the band that the group starts to grab attention. Frankie’s haunting tenor falsetto is to become a trademark of Tommy’s outfit. And when a friend introduces them to Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) who is not only a singer and musician but a songwriter of real talent things start to happen.
Eventually after a lot of trips back and forth to Manhattan’s Brill Building, where all the record producers hang out, the newly-named Four Seasons get their big break. Producer Bob Crewe (Mike Doyle) senses he has something big and takes them on. Bobby’s hits Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Walk Like A Man propel them to stardom with appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and other major television slots. Eventually all this takes a toll on their family life. Frankie’s wife Mary (Renee Marino) isn’t happy with his infrequent trips home, tied up as he is with public appearances.
Godfather Gyp re-enters the scene as a conciliator when Tommy’s gambling debts spiral out of control and Mafia threats from a pushy loan shark surface. The fourth member of the Four Seasons, bass singer Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda), packs up and leaves fed up with Tommy’s divisive behaviour.
They keep going but it’s not quite the same without Nick. Director Clint Eastwood – remember he’s now 84 – has brought together not only a real-life showbiz story, but a showbiz story with a real edge. I’m from the era when Frankie Valli was at his peak so the sound track resonates for me. I had forgotten, however, just how many big hits Bobby had written. He was a marvel.