Clint Eastwood Takes 'Jersey Boys' From Broadway To Movie Theaters

Jersey Boys is based on the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The film deals with the group's turbulent relationships away from the studio as much as the music that flowed out of it.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And the musical based on the songs of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, "Jersey Boys," is one of the longest-running plays on Broadway. Today, the movie version arrives in theaters, and its director may come as a surprise. Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Because his movies often dance to a violent tune, its easy to forget Clint Eastwood's passion for music. But if you think music was the only reason he directed "Jersey Boys," you'd be missing the point. Eastwood also focuses on the drama - on what it took for Frankie Valli and three pals from the mean streets of New Jersey to become international celebrities. This pleasantly old-fashioned film deals with the group's turbulent relationships away from the studio, as much as the music that flowed out of it. The story starts back in 1951 with a young Frankie, played by John Lloyd Young, being the protege of Jersey mobster Gyp DeCarlo, played by Christopher Walken.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JERSEY BOYS")

CHRISTOPHER WALKEN: (As DeCarlo) A voice like yours is a gift from God. The world is going to hear that voice. You don't understand.

JOHN LLOYD YOUNG: (As Valli) Sure, Mr. DeCarlo. It's just...

WALKEN: (As DeCarlo) What?

YOUNG: (As Valli) I don't know. I just wish things would start to happen.

WALKEN: (As DeCarlo) Impatient, huh? Don't worry. You work hard, everything follows. Am I right, Tommy?

VINCENT PIAZZA: (As Tommy Devito) Bigger than Sinatra, Gyp, my hand to God.

TURAN: Frankie and two friends play small Jersey clubs under an assortment of names before they run into the missing ingredient, songwriter and future band member Bob Gaudio. He hears Valli sing and says without hesitation, I wanted to write for this voice. The first hit he wrote for the group and producer, Bob Crewe, was unforgettable.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JERSEY BOYS")

MIKE DOYLE: (As Crewe) Bob Crewe. Frank - Crewe - yeah, it's - I'm sorry we're late, but listen. We got something for you, all right?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 1: Right now?

DOYLE: (As Crewe) No, just listen. Just listen. Here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 2: 1, 2, 3, 4...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As The Four Seasons) (Singing) Sherry.

TURAN: The song was "Sherry," featuring Valli's unmistakable falsetto.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JERSEY BOYS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 3: Set up the 8-track.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 4: What for?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 3: We're going to double Frankie's voice. It's going to explode right off the radio.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 4: Never heard of that before.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 3: Because it's never been done before. I'm a genius.

TURAN: Though it's great to hear the songs, "Jersey Boys" also tells the story of how unexpected fame created the opportunity to both succeed and fail on a grander scale than anyone ever imagined. This sense of life and its consequences is what attracted Eastwood. So has the sense that through it all, The Four Seasons remain Jersey boys, true to the code of the neighborhood, no matter what.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for the LA Times and MORNING EDITION.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHERRY")

THE FOUR SEASONS: (Singing) Sherry. Sherry, baby. Sherry. Sherry, baby. Sherry, baby. Sherry, can you come out tonight? Sherry, baby. Sherry, can you come out tonight?

MONTAGNE: It's NPR News.

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