Eddie and the Cruisers

Director: Martin Davidson

Cast: Tom Berenger, Michael Pare, Helen Schneider, Joe Pantoliano, Matthew Laurance, David Wilson, Ellen Barkin, Michael Antunes, Kenny Vance, John Stockwell, Joe Cates, Barry Sand, Vebe Borge, Howard Johnson, Joey Balin, Bruce Brown, Robin Karfo, Rufus Harley, Louis D’Esposito, Bob Garrett, Joanne Collins, Bob Kirsh, Christopher Stryker, Frank Patton, John Hagy

Reporter Maggie Foley (Barkin) is doing a story on Eddie and the Cruisers, a rock group whose music is enjoying a popular revival, long after the group disbanded. Mystery surrounds the death, eighteen years earlier, of Eddie Wilson (Pare), the lead singer of the group. Maggie is planning to capitalize on the cult-like following of the group, fed by rumors that Eddie lives, and the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the master tapes from the group’s unpublished album, “Season in Hell.” Maggie’s marketing angle is that Eddie may have “pulled a Rimbaud,” a reference to French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who wrote a book of poetry titled “A Season in Hell,” and who committed “artistic suicide” at the age of nineteen, when he abruptly quit writing poetry. To gather material for her story, Maggie tracks down and interviews the members of Eddie’s group. She finds Frank Ridgeway (Berenger) teaching literature at a high school in New Jersey. Frank does not say much to Maggie, but his interest is stirred up and he recalls episodes of his time with the group. One day in 1962 the Cruisers walked into Tony Mart, a club on the Jersey shore, to begin an engagement and found Frank cleaning up the place. Eddie was not satisfied with the standard rock and roll tunes the Cruisers played. He sought something different for his group, with more character. In Frank, who not only could play the piano, but had an Ivy League education and a passion for poetry, Eddie found a source of fresh words for his group’s music. From the beginning Frank was attracted to Joann Carlino (Schneider), Eddie’s unofficial girlfriend, who sang accompanying vocals for the Cruisers. It was Frank who introduced Rimbaud to the group, by giving Joann a book of his poems. Returning to his home, Frank finds his rooms in disarray. Someone broke in and searched his things. Frank receives a call from Doc Robbins (Pantoliano), who was the group’s planner and deal maker, and now works as a disk jockey at radio station WRHE. Doc is interested in finding the master tapes from the group’s last recording session – he thinks they may be worth a fortune. Doc’s place, like Frank’s, has been searched. Someone is also looking for the missing tapes. Frank visits Sal Amato (Laurance), who played guitar and did background vocals for the Cruisers. Sal now has a group of his own, a Cruiser’s tribute band that plays their old songs at a Holiday Inn. In his mind, Frank remembers how when Eddie sang Tender Years, girls listened to the romantic lyrics, “a summer love, a beach romance,” their eyes full of wistful yearning. Frank meets Joann, now a choreographer, and the two begin to rekindle romantic feelings they never developed before. Frank locates Kenny Hopkins (Wilson), the Cruiser’s drummer, who is not nostalgic about the Cruisers. Kenny remembers disputes and tensions and tells Frank the truth about the death of Wendell Newton (Antunes), the group’s original trumpet player. It was not a heart attack that killed Wendell. Someone is phoning Joann, saying nothing, but playing Eddie’s music, and she tells Frank she thinks she has seen Eddie’s blue Chevrolet. Frank tells Joann that Eddie’s car was destroyed in the accident that killed him, when it went off a bridge, but she has the feeling that Eddie has somehow come back from the dead, or maybe never died. Frank must find out what is going on, before someone gets hurt. Music by John Cafferty. Based on Paul Frederick Kluge’s novel of the same name.

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