IT’S important to point out from the start that I haven’t seen this film (yet) but nevertheless, I just know it’s going to be brilliant.
The director is the redoubtable and totally cool Clint Eastwood — massive tick. The screenplay and score are adapted from a stage musical which has been top of the West End to-do list for the past five years — ginormous tick. And finally, the guys playing Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons are all unknowns — absolutely stratospheric tick. Why? Because they’ve all got fantastic voices and have learned their trade by treading the boards in proper musicals rather than finding fame by warbling a bit on the X Factor and crying publicly into their hankies about the trauma of their pet hamster dying last year.
The story is all about how four guys from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey make it to the big time with their musical talent, then lose it, then regain it. If you don’t fancy it because your memory of Frankie Valli’s falsetto voice is that of a cat clinging to a blackboard, I urge you to put your prejudices behind you.
The story includes gangs, mobs, prison and skulduggery. Band member Bob Gaudio was a brilliant songwriter and the hits just keep on coming — December 1963 (Oh What A Night), Sherry, Walk Like a Man, and lots more.
In this production, Valli is played by John Lloyd Young who won a Tony award for his role in the stage show, which he has worked on since the early days. Not only has he met the real-life Valli, who was a producer of both the show and the film, he actually looks like him. He has said that one of the greatest moments of the filming project was shooting outside Valli’s original childhood home in New Jersey: “I’ve never seen him so animated. He regaled us with stories about who lived across the street,” he says.