Warner Bros. Pictures’ new musical “Jersey Boys” tells of the rise and fall of the iconic rock ‘n’ roll group The Four Seasons, reminding audiences why their songs have remained in the public consciousness—some for more than half a century—but also revealing the surprising origins of this seemingly clean-cut, all-American rock band.
The film is based on the Tony Award-winning, smash hit musical, which has struck a chord with audiences worldwide, becoming one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history and a sensation in virtually every city in which the show has been mounted, both in the U.S. and abroad. Now director Clint Eastwood broadens the canvas and brings all the joy and heartbreak, the music and the memories, to the big screen for moviegoers everywhere.
Eastwood, who also produced the film with Graham King and Robert Lorenz, offers that it was the drama behind the jackets and ties and four-part harmonies that intrigued him most. “I have always loved the music of The Four Seasons, so I knew it would be fun to revisit that, but what mainly interested me was how these semi-juvenile delinquents, who didn’t grow up under the best of circumstances, made it big.
They were living on the periphery of the mob, pulling off petty crimes and what have you. Some had even done jail time. Then the music came and pulled them out. It gave them something to strive for.”
Producer Graham King estimates he has seen the stage show “Jersey Boys”between 30 and 40 times, but says it didn’t take him nearly that long to recognize its cinematic potential. “I fell in love with it the first time I saw it,” he attests. “I knew the songs of The Four Seasons, but I couldn’t believe I knew nothing of their real story. For someone like me, who loves making movies like ‘The Departed’ and ‘The Town’ and films of that genre, it was perfect because it had that Mafia, street-smart aspect, and then you incorporate the songs from that period. It had all the right elements for a terrific film.”
Eastwood relates, “Frankie Valli told me that to be a singer in that neighborhood in those years was hard. Just singing under the streetlights, they endured a lot of ridicule…until they became a big hit, of course. But they had to have a great deal of perseverance to get through that.”
The music was one of the main reasons King approached Eastwood to direct the film. “Clint is an incredible filmmaker and I knew he had a love for music, especially jazz,” says King. “The sound of The Four Seasons came out of the jazz and big band era, so I felt this would be in his wheelhouse. Out of the blue, I sent him the screenplay and within two days he called and said he wanted to make the movie.”
Behind the scenes, Eastwood enlisted the show’s original musical director Ron Melrose to serve as music consultant on the film, as well as choreographer Sergio Trujillo. The real Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio served as executive producers, with Gaudio, together with lyricist Bob Crewe, also credited with writing the unforgettable playlist of Four Seasons hits.
King points out that people today still know the songs—from dozens of movie soundtracks over the past four decades to contemporary remixes. “It’s amazing how their music transcends the years. Just a few years ago, my kid was listening to ‘Beggin΄’ by Madcon, having no idea it was originally a Four Seasons hit.”
Eastwood agrees. “There are so many wonderful songs: ‘Sherry,’ ‘Rag Doll,’ ‘My Eyes Adored You,’ ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry,’ ‘Walk Like a Man,’ ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’… And each was distinctly different, even though they all had the imprint of The Four Seasons on them. Every day of filming, there would be a new favorite. They’d sing ‘Dawn’ and we couldn’t stop humming that. Then we’d go back and film another scene with ‘Rag Doll,’and it would take over and we’d be humming that. It was great fun.”
To be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide starting July 16, “Jersey Boys” is distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.