The Jersey Boys - Clint Eastwood on set with stars Erich Bergen and John Lloyd Young ©2014 Warner Bros, photo by Keith Bernstein

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 Jersey Boys – Director/Producer Clint Eastwood ©2014 Warner Bros, photo by Keith Bernstein

Clint Eastwood tells 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.”

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.

The Jersey Boys – Clint Eastwood on set with executive producer Frankie Valli ©2014 Warner Bros, photo by Keith Bernstein

By far, the most distinctive element of The Four Seasons’ sound was the falsetto tenor of Frankie Valli.

Clint 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.”

At the time, Clint had not seen the show, but he quickly remedied that, catching the Las Vegas, San Francisco and Broadway productions in quick succession. As it turned out, those were the first round of auditions for the director.

The Jersey Boys – Clint Eastwood on set with stars Erich Bergen and John Lloyd Young ©2014 Warner Bros, photo by Keith Bernstein

Bringing the musical to the screen, the filmmakers drew a number of talents from the theatrical productions, including several members of the cast. In addition to Young as Valli, Erich Bergen and Michael Lomenda returned to the roles of original Four Seasons members Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi, respectively, having played their parts in the national touring company.

Joining the band for the first time, Vincent Piazza took on the role of Tommy DeVito, another of the group’s founding members. Eastwood also cast award-winning actor Christopher Walken as local mob kingpin Gyp DeCarlo.

One unexpected device taken directly from the show is the fact that the actors break the proverbial “fourth wall”—talking right to the camera and, thus, right to the audience. “Each member of The Four Seasons is telling the story from his own point of view,”

The Jersey Boys – Christopher Walken who plays local mob kingpin Gyp DeCarlo with Clint Eastwood. Surprisingly they had never even met before this. ©2014 Warner Bros, photo by Keith Bernstein

Colin Davies

The editor of Film Review Online