Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Jersey Boys


There’s a lot of guys who can sing falsetto. (I’m not one of them.) But for most of them, when they hit those upper registers the tone becomes a little hollow, a little less powerful than their regular singing voice. Not Frankie Valli. His voice seemed to become even stronger when he reached for the stratosphere, which was most of the time. He was the person, his was the freakish voice that put the Four Seasons on the map and gave them a dozen hit songs I can sing along with to this day.

I wasn’t much impressed with them at the time. Like I said, I knew most of their songs, but I never thought of them as “Four Seasons” songs. Just do-wop stuff playing on the radio. But watching this movie, listening to the excellent re-creations of their music, I was moved more than I expected to be. Nostalgia, I suppose, but what’s wrong with that? It’s from the innocent days of rock and roll, where the guys dressed in blazers and highly polished patent leather shoes, and did synchronized dance routines. You sort of wonder how anybody could have thought of this as the devil’s music. Lord have mercy, what do those people think of the stuff we hear today?

Clint Eastwood has sung in a few movies. Badly. For a man who really loves music and has written the scores for several of his movies, it must be a real pain to have such a weak, wispy singing voice. This is his first musical (and probably his last, considering his age), and he does a decent job. It’s an unusual musical, and I’d like to have seen it on stage. It was told by the individual members speaking to the audience, telling the story of the rise and fall of the group, and Clint preserves that format here. In an ordinary Broadway or West End musical the characters burst into song, and the songs advance the plot or tell what the character is feeling. Here all the music is straight Four Seasons hits, done on stage or in the studio. Three out of the four singers are original cast from Broadway, including the star, John Lloyd Young, who is astonishing in his ability to channel Mr. Valli’s voice. Though the movie may be a little over long at two hours and fourteen minutes, I thoroughly enjoyed it.