23 March 2012


Friday Night Movie: Eddie and the Cruisers

0:09 The anticipation during the last few moments before a concert begins can be so magical.
0:45 Ah, miming . . . This would actually fit right in on Top of the Pops circa 1983. LOL!
2:00 In the summer of '63, On the Dark Side was the Number 1 song in the country. I don't know much about 60s music outside of The Beatles, but I did enough research to understand why the idea that this song would have charted at that point in pop history is either the most unbelievable joke ever . . . or the split-off point into a credible parallel universe.
2:53 Good music can live forever but the people behind it never do. =(
2:58 They'd better cut the exposition soon or this will get boring.
3:14 What about the idea that Eddie's still alive? Probably inspired by Elvis Lives", it rivals even "Paul Is Dead".
4:00 Now I'm embarrassed to admit I know nothing about Arthur Rimbaud.
4:39 But was there a "Rimbaud Lives" conspiracy theory during the twenty years he was off the grid?
4:55 Oooooooooh!!! That's good enough for this Lit major.
5:09 Satin Records? I'm reminded of that time I watched (failed morality play) Moulin Rouge and thought Satine was an allegory for Satan. (And I'm not alone, right? . . . Right???)
5:47 Only a handful of people ever know the happiness of hearing something they've put their heart and soul into being played on the radio. Lucky jerks.
6:35 From Wild Summer Nights (which actually does sound 60s) to the grind of another school year (now in the 80s). Very deft use of the soundtrack.
6:48 I may not know my Rimbaud, but I'd recognise William Wordsworth anywhere! =D
7:04 So . . . what's Wordsworth getting at? Your life, Mr. Ridgeway? =P
7:57 Del Shannon? Really? I guess actual 60s hits are necessary for the audience's sake.
8:20 For the record (Pun not intended), Shannon's Runaway went to Number 1 in 1961.
8:51 Why, Mr. Ridgeway! I hardly recognised you!
9:48 Tell Tony "Eddie and the Cruisers" are here. This is actually a really classic moment. If the band had really existed, this is how the same point in their history would have been filmed.

0:07 You may also remember Runaround Sue from 1961. (Anyone want to start a drinking game for whenever a recognisable song from the 60s comes on?)
0:44 And that was a pretty cool cover. =)
1:12 Betty Lou Got a New Pair of Shoes And there's your early 60s satire! LOL!
2:50 Another classic moment! Eddie has charisma.
3:17 In case you're all wondering, it's spelled C-A-E-S-U-R-A. And it's up for Word & Question next month. ;-)
3:38 Wow, Mr. Ridgeway, it is you!
4:41 I never thought I'd be so unhappy to be zapped back into the 80s . . .
4:47 If Ellen Barkin hadn't trashed this movie after it's release, I'd actually really love her character, who transcends "80s hot" and enters into classic sultry.
6:21 Anyone think the music was going to turn out to be some updated jazzy version of Go Away, Little Girl, another early 60s hit? LOL!
6:48 You're an English teacher, Mr. Ridgeway. Surely you recognise symbolism and foreshadowing when they happen in your own home.
8:08 Oh, look. It's the guy who said, "Never bullshit a bullshitter," and didn't care to listen to the Cruisers' new song. And now he's a disc jockey playing songs two decades old. This is good writing.
8:20 It just occurred to me that the only profession more lonely than lighthouse keeper is classic radio disc jockey. Everyone who understands is always miles or years away.
8:27 Oh, yeah, if you're playing the drinking game . . . *DRINK*
8:55 I'm really loving how much I can read in Tom Berenger's expressions.
9:10 The way I see it, Eddie's my ticket out--and yours! A far cry from "Eddie was my friend" at the end of our first clip, but Eddie is just the sort of character who'd mean different things to different people, in that "the thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed" sort of way.

0:34 Okay, what does this instrumental bit remind you of?
0:48 I just keep looking at Berenger's face. It says everything.
1:05 He's got an Eddie lookalike. After all this time, Doc, you're still a bullshitter.
2:03 Is this a Cruisers song on the radio? I don't recognise it.
2:53 And the plot thickens . . .
3:48 Now I feel like a real philistine, but I think there's more to this than a music lover's obsession with a favourite band's final, unreleased album. (Even I wouldn't go to these lengths for Duran Duran's Reportage . . . but then again, the tapes weren't mysteriously lost, were they?)
4:32 That was actually so mesmerising I forgot to comment on it until she was out of the frame.
4:59 He reads poetry, knows words like "caesura" and plays the piano. Swooning now.
5:20 A-HA!!!
6:53 Anyone else reminded of the Fonz wearing his leather jacket on the beach? ROFL!
7:02 But our songs . . . I want to be able to fold ourselves up in it forever. Not a bad vision. How many Pop/Rock songs of the twentieth century can we say fit this description?
7:46 "Eddie and the Cruisers featuring Sal Amato"??? I'll bet we won't hear that caesura in this version of Betty Lou either. (You're a tool, Sal.)
8:16 Now, I get it. I get that if you have a family and can make a decent living playing all your old hits over and over to an audience that likes your marketing, then you have nothing to be ashamed of. Artistic integrity is great, but it doesn't pay the rent. What I don't get is why I believe that but still think that Sal is a sell-out.
8:42 It's the evil reporter woman!!! =O
9:31 How does she manage to say all the right things???

0:18 In case you're wondering, no, that's not John Cafferty, who gives us Eddie's singing voice. It's a real fake. LOL!
0:56 No mocking. Cole Porter couldn't sing, either, you know.
1:20 Are those Sal and Doc laughing in the background? =(
2:55 And this is when you realise (assuming you haven't already) that this movie is an unsung cinematic gem. Pun intended, of course.
3:50 I usually love the bass player as a matter of course . . . but not Sal.
4:18 Yeah, I'd be driven to drink, too.
5:46 I love this jump! =D
6:41 One beehive hairstyle does not a 60s audience make. They still look 80s to me--and yes, I would know.
8:40 I hope someone is paying critical attention to the lyrics because I'm too lost in the sounds.
9:26 Who else just loves the saxophonist? I mean, who needs guitar solos when you've got this? (I can't believe I wrote that, either.)

0:07 And a piano solo, too! Kind of refreshing, actually, although I'll always love my guitar bands best.
0:33 Oh, what a beautiful smile. =)
0:54 And never a day passes that I don't think he's . . . around . . . somewhere. Anyone else catch that inflection in his voice?
1:42 I've got to be fair: Sal gave us a good show.
2:28 Unexpectedly heartwarming!
2:47 First Doc thought he'd authored a book and now Sal thinks he's a Hollywood screenwriter. What do you think Wordman feels about being a high school English teacher when he reconnects with everyone who had seen him as a genius?
3:32 Hear the switch to a "minor key"? The actor Matthew Laurance could do voice work.
4:20 And now I know why Sal felt like a sell-out to me: he feels like a sell-out to himself. Stuck having to build his career on Eddie, even after all these years.
5:24 Oh, Sal. =(
5:32 It sure gripes me, when I think about how big we could have been. And when he compares it to how small he is now.
5:44 The time is right . . . Wow. Is every song in this movie meaningful or what? (This isn't 60s music, though, so no drinking!)
6:51 *DRINK!*
7:10 Seriously, is this for real?
7:59 We ain't never played no finishing school like this. Snobs. =( But I get it. Not every audience has ears to hear what you've got.
8:43 When I graduated from high school, I asked my guidance counsellor what I should do. He talked about being a beautician . . . Social class can be a real bitch.

0:12 Check out his preppy sweater vest . . . and her snooty glance to the side.
0:32 You know, the mean-ass black group out of Newark, the Cruisers? ROFLMAO!
0:45 While it feels weird to me that Joanne is spending so much time with a guy who has a crush on her and isn't her boyfriend, I understand that we need to see Ridgeway's relationships with every other member of the band. It can't be all group dynamics, all the time.
0:50 "Lavelier"! Now there's a word I haven't had to think about since Sweet Valley High (LOL!)--and another candidate for Word & Question. ;-)
1:38 Ridgeway, that's a bad idea. =(
1:43 Joann, what the hell do you think you're doing?!?!?!?!
1:47 It just figures, you know . . . Geez, I thought Ridgeway was supposed to be the really smart one.
3:46 Hey, remember that sign? =)
4:58 I can't liveblog properly when they're performing. I just get lost in the music. (Anyone else?)
6:02 I'm going to present the Cruisers, one by one. The reporter lady tried introducing them at the beginning, but I don't think anyone really paid attention. But now that we've heard their music and care about them a little, we'll remember their names.
6:11 Anyone else get an odd feeling that we're not going to hear Ridgeway's name?
7:04 My family actually had a copy of Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus when I was growing up. (The book by James Otis, not the movie by Disney.) What a cruel allusion.
7:21 And that was Eddie's revenge. Ouch. =(
8:32 Words and music. Just like that. This isn't the first time I've thought a band took "for better or for worse" more seriously than a lot of married couples.

0:18 This will be hard for my younger readers to understand, but back before digital technology went mainstream, unreleased tapes were like paintings. If you lost them, then they were really gone.
0:33 Words and music, remember? So if Ridgeway had been the one to leave the band, Eddie would be the one still blocked and missing him today?
1:08 It's Kenny the drummer!
1:21 LOL! Well, someone has to be the ladies man of the group, aye?
1:56 You got to take a look at the whole story, man. There were bad times, too. Hey, I'm watching this movie as much for the bad times as for the magic. =P If Kenny has got any more dirt, I want to hear it.
2:30 Where the hell have you been? The question should be, "When the hell have you been?"
3:57 Of course it's not the same . . .
5:10 But everyone else has Eddie's back. It's usually sport films that give us this sort of teamwork and camaraderie. Should I be watching more "band movies"?
5:43 I seriously want the soundtrack now.
6:19 Ah . . .
7:10 What do you think? Will something bloom this time around or does Eddie still stand between them?
8:31 I pick up the phone and someone plays "Tender Years". Ooooh! Nobody else got mysterious phone calls.
8:40 And the plot thickens some more!
8:46 But not Kenny's place? I'd wonder more about that, but I'm still trying to figure out the meaning behind his work in gambling.
9:15 Oh, gosh, it's the "Fire Suite" of the lost Season in Hell! And we're listening to it in 1964 . . .
9:43 I have no confidence in those studio bosses. =(

0:26 You want to be a poet? Try Greenwich Village. It's words and music, jerk!
0:35 Hey! I put up ten grand and I expect something for my money. But to some people, I guess it's money and music. Which is just a reality of the music industry, nothing personal.
0:39 This is what I've been waiting a year for? A bunch of jerk offs making weird sounds? Why did The Beatles' Abbey Road just come to mind? (And a lot of David Bowie?)
1:25 They want On the Dark Side. Why are we giving them some damn opera? Since the 60s, all the really successful Rock bands have eventually attempted a Rock Opera of some sort--but I think they waited a couple of albums longer than Eddie. Being ahead of your time is one thing; being ahead of your band is another.
1:58 Oh, shut up, Sal. You'd be screwed up in a completely different way even if Ridgeway had never become a Cruiser.
2:10 When something so unapologetically 80s and synth driven plays like this, I totally forget we're still in the 60s. Cue the time warp . . .
2:34 Oh, wow. A time warp tunnel! LOL!
3:36 And now there's a door, too!
4:14 Just so you know how ironically ahead of his time Eddie is, we get a set up straight out of an early 80s music video.
4:53 He actually believed that he could build a castle out of a bunch of junk. The allegory is a bit thick here, but I'm eating it up with a spoon.
6:39 Eddie and I had a deal. We never talked about the future. There is something about music that keeps everything in the present or in the past . . . even music that was ahead of its time.
8:00 I can't blame her for thinking it's Eddie and projecting her own fixation on the past on him as well. He's so mythical in that way, aye?
8:18 Anyone see this twist coming?
8:36 Now I'm guessing that the one trashing everyone's apartments, making the phone calls and driving around in a vintage car is another member of the old gang. And I'm taking bets on who it might be!

0:25 Am I the only one who wonders whether those tapes from the 60s would have survived being in a junk yard for twenty years?
1:36 Black and white pictures all over her walls . . . Nobody but Kenny has moved on from the past, have they?
1:54 That one was always my favourite. Eddie for music, Ridgeway for words, and Joann for . . . inspiration?
2:35 You two had better not kiss again or anything. =/
3:23 I realise they're very excited, but can you believe they just left the tapes completely unattended in another room?
3:48 It wasn't just Eddie who haunted you, was it, Ridgeway? All this time, it was Joann, too.
5:45 Of course it would be he. The bullshitter who had nothing to do with making the music and everything to do with marketing it.
7:12 I once asked Eddie why he kept you around. I wonder if St. Peter ever asked Jesus why He kept Judas around . . . and if so, what the answer was.
7:55 Wow. Can you believe this??? No wonder Roger Ebert had issues with the ending! This is too . . . quick. =/

0:11 There's nothing like an old friend . . . =)
0:13 Hey, Frank and Joann! If you want to kiss now, I won't scream at you.
0:59 The innocence of the 50s was over . . . and so was Rock n Roll as we knew it. I almost wouldn't mind living in this alternate universe where the songwriting team that changed everything was not Lennon-McCartney, but Wilson-Ridgeway. (Almost.)
1:37 For me, and for everyone who listens to music, Eddie Wilson lives--and always will. It is music, more than all the other arts, that bestows this gift of immortality . . . but her script should have read, "For me, and for everyone who listens to recorded music . . ." Words and music; art and technology.
2:11 Michael Pare was so perfectly cast.
2:39 Oh, good grief. Don't tell me . . .
2:46 Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about this. It's even more open ended than the story the characters already know, with the added bittersweet element that Eddie is probably just as hung up on the past as everyone else. (Why'd you disappear, Eddie? What is it you won't tell us?)
3:04 There's a novel??? =P Not that I'm ever going to read it now . . .


Enbrethiliel said...


Okay, so the drinking game was kind of a bust . . . but did you really notice? =P

I don't know about anyone else, but I feel really let down by the ending. =( I think the "surviving" members of the band, plus Doc, should have all reunited and finally laid Eddie to rest properly--at least in their own minds. I doubt they did that the last time they were all together, twenty years before. It was never just about the tapes and about getting the music to an audience; it was also about being a band--being vulnerable to each other at such a young age and on the cusp of a new era in music--and then having the most important bond suddenly severed. No wonder no one seemed to get over it (except, perhaps, Kenny), despite all that time.

Nor do I buy the idea that Eddie so easily let go of his dream to make "something great." I think he would have started over, wherever he ended up. The sequel addresses this by "revealing" that Eddie has had amnesia all that time--but from what I've read of the sequel, there's no way we can call that canon.

christopher said...

I still haven't found the time to rewatch this yet, but rest assured ma'am, I will appear with surprising comments when you least expect it...

Enbrethiliel said...


Take your time! The archives are always here. =)

And your comments are (almost) always surprising!

Michael said...

Can't believe I missed this one. One of my favorite movies despite the ending.

I didn't know there was a novel but I have seen the movie sequel. I won't spoil anything for you until you see it. :P

Enbrethiliel said...


One can always stop the film at the junk yard and imagine an alternate ending. Everything leading up to that part is just that good.

I have no plans to see the sequel, though. I got a good enough sense of it from the trailer and am with fans who say they consider it an extended daydream of Sal's! =P So spoil away if you have something to say! =)