The 1960's vocal group known as "The Four Season" has sold more than 100 million records. JERSEY BOYS, the Broadway play that tells their story as made 500 million dollars over the past nine years.
And now the play has been made into a movie, a rousing musical drama that presents the real history of how four juvenile delinquents from Newark, New Jersey became one of the most popular vocal groups of the twentieth century.
The four singer/actors do a great job with the music. And director Clint Eastwood's masterful direction brings out all the back stage drama of the group's troubled personal lives.
Tommy (talking to the camera): You wanna hear the real story? I'm the one you wanna talk to, Tommy DeVito. Wasn't for me, we all would'a wound up with a bullet in our head.
Vincent Piazza is Tommy DeVito, the lead guitarist, who, in reality, caused most of their problems. But he did bring Frankie Valli into the group, and it was Valli's falsetto voice that gave the quartet their signature sound. John Lloyd Young is perfect as Frankie.
The other long tenured member of the group was Bob Gaudio (played by Erich Bergen)who listens to Frankie sing in a bar and then says to the camera: After 30 seconds I know I need to write for this voice.
And yet even after hiring a talented writer and keyboard guy, the group struggled. They couldn't even agree on name until they are fired from a bowling alley gig.
A neon sign flashes above them: "The Four Seasons Lanes"
Frankie: It's a sign, Tommy.
Tommy: I still like "The Four Felons."
Tommy is constantly negative. He even complains about the title of one of their future hits.
Tommy: "Walk Like a Man"? As opposed to what, a woman?
Bob Crew (their producer): It's an anthem for every guy who's been twisted around a girl's little finger, and if I'm explaining that to you, we're in trouble.
Eventually, Frankie, Bob and Nick discover that Tommy's bad money management has put them in a huge financial hole. They want to vote on the idea of putting Bob in charge.
Tommy (sarcastically) : Maybe we should put it to a vote? Should Bob handle the money? (He smashes a chair on a desk. It breaks apart.) Well, that's my vote.
Nick (to the camera): Think Frankie would have cut Tommy loose right then? If that's what you think, you're not from Jersey.
As fascinating as their back story is, it's the music that makes us care about these guys in the first place, and on that score, the movie really delivers.