Written by / 5/24/2012 / No comments / , , , ,

WALTER HILL DIRECTS RALPH MACCHIO IN CROSSROADS

year: 1986
As the legend goes, Robert Johnson stood on the crossroads and sold his soul to the devil... With that contract he wrote twenty-nine songs that defined the blues genre, and… to fit within this storyline… one more tune was written that was never recorded...

rating: ***1/2
And this is what a young classical guitarist with a blues itch named Eugene Martone, played by Ralph Macchio, wants to record to make himself famous: He finds a revamped version of “Mr. Miyagi”… an eighty-year-old black blues man stuck in a rest home, who first denies he’s Blind Willie Brown (named for wearing glasses), best friend of Robert Johnson... But then cons Martone into breaking him out of the hospital. And from this point, the unlikely duo go on a road trip that, it turns out, won’t be an easy bus ride – and like all dues-paying journeymen, they hitchhike. Along the way they meet a beautiful young runaway who borders on being a prostitute.

Jami Gertz’s spirited Frances provides not only the necessary love-interest but lights the fuse of a few action sequences. Although the best moments have Martone and Willie alone discussing, and playing, the music director Walter Hill celebrates through a soundtrack by slide guitar virtuoso Ry Cooder – providing each soulful lick Macchio imitates on the fretboard with amazing dexterity.

One can argue this particular casting choice is a bit too conventional, especially given Macchio’s mainstream status as a popular young star, but he does a good job. His final guitar duel with heavy metal shredder Steve Vai, so that Willie can get his soul back from an age-old crossroads deal, is reminiscent of Charlie Daniel's THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA and THE KARATE KID finale: playing his guitar, Macchio does all but a crane kick to literally beat the Devil.

Yet with all the town-to-town adventures this is really about the music, not only a character in itself but the reason for the entire trip...
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