Five Facts About "Jersey Boys" and the Four Seasons

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
June 18th, 2014

The film "Jersey Boys," based off of the musical play of the same name, gives the inside scoop on the successful rise and eventual turbulence of the Four Seasons. Four boys from the proverbial "wrong side of the tracks" – urban New Jersey, in this case – claw their way to the top of the music charts in the early 1960s, and spend time teetering on that apex as their personal histories attempt to drag them down.

Following in the footsteps of films such as "Dreamgirls," "That Thing You Do!" and "Sid and Nancy," the movie adaptation of "Jersey Boys" walks the fine line between telling a true story and maintaining dramatic flow. In fact, the play was originally created by band member Bob Gaudio, and the most famous of all the Four Seasons, Frankie Valli, had a hand in some of the production of the movie.

Here are five facts about the film and the group that inspired it:

1: John Lloyd Young plays the role of Valli in the movie. Young is a Broadway actor most famous for playing Valli in the Broadway production of "Jersey Boys." In fact, he won a Tony Award as Best Actor for the role in 2006 as well as Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World awards. In the movie, Young joins Erich Bergen (as Gaudio), Michael Lomenda (as Nick Massi) and Vincent Piazza (as Tommy DeVito) to create the Four Seasons. Christopher Walken takes on the role of mobster Angelo "Gyp" DeCarlo.

2:  Clint Eastwood directed the film. "Jersey Boys" marks Eastwood's directorial debut in the world of musicals. Eastwood has been absent from the director's chair since 2011, when he directed the critically-acclaimed "J. Edgar." Eastwood also directed "Gran Torino," "Letters from Iwo Jima" and "Million Dollar Baby," in which he also starred.

3: While not a tribute film, the movie naturally incorporates many Four Seasons songs. Big favorites include "December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)," "Working My Way Back to You," "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," "Sherry" and the ever-famous "Big Girls Don't Cry." From 1962 to 1964, the Four Seasons released "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like a Man," all of which hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts. They were the first group ever to release three consecutive No. 1, non-holiday hits.

The play and the film include the hit "Rag Doll," written by Gaudio in 1964 after an incident with a homeless woman. He was stopped at a red light in Manhattan when a homeless woman dressed "like a rag doll" washed his windshield for change. Lacking change, Gaudio gave her a $10 bill, a lot of money at the time. Touched by her amazement about the money, Gaudio penned the song 24 hours later. It proved to be the Four Seasons' fourth No. 1 hit on the Billboard charts.

While Gaudio and longtime songwriter Bob Crewe created the music for the play and film, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice wrote the book and screenplay.

4: The screenplay changed studios. "Jersey Boys" started out with Sony Studios. However, Warner Bros. picked up the rights to adapt the play for the big screen. The studio worried about the international appeal of the musical, though, and put it in turnaround in 2012. Graham King and his GK Films signed a first-look deal with Warner Bros. and ultimately produced the film along with Malpaso Productions and RatPac Entertainment. Warner Bros. is distributing the film.

5: The "Jersey Boys" play gave some of the first insider information into the wildly popular band. Prior to the play's appearance on Broadway, fans of the Four Seasons knew little about the internal struggles of the band. The play was originally set up in four acts, or four seasons, during which time each of the band members narrated his version of events. The play and film dramatize such occurrences as their name change from the Four Lovers to the Four Seasons, an epiphany that happened after the group failed to get a gig at the Four Seasons Bowling Alley. Both also dig deep into events such as Valli's dealings with a mobster and drug usage by various group members. Ultimately, the film showcases their triumphs over misfortune.

The Broadway musical won four Tony Awards, including Young's for Best Actor, earned a Grammy Award for Best Musical and grossed $1.2 billion worldwide. Broadway shows sometimes become hit movies, with the likes of "Chicago" and "Les Miserables" successfully transitioning from the stage to the big screen. "Jersey Boys" the play already has so many fans, and "Jersey Boys" the movie is sure to follow suit.