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Eugene Martone (Ralph Macchio, The Karate Kid & The Karate Kid Part II) struggles with the devil and his destiny when he goes down to the Crossroads in this contemporary drama. With a potent blend of adventure, romance, and music, the film takes gifted young guitarist Martone into a dangerous and challenging new world. Obsessed with unlocking the mysteries of the blues, the fledging musician finds cantankerous Willie Brown (Joe Senaca), a master of the blues harmonica, and frees him from prison. The unlikely duo hobos from New York to Mississippi as Martone searches for runaway Frances (Jami Gertz, Quicksilver). With a rich mixture of Delta blues and driving rock produced by Ry Cooder, the film takes Martone and Brown on an intense odyssey that leads them to a dramatic climax at the Crossroads.
- Aspect Ratio : 1.85:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medR R (Restricted)
- Product Dimensions : 7.75 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches; 3.84 Ounces
- Director : Walter Hill
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Run time : 1 hour and 39 minutes
- Release date : August 10, 2004
- Actors : Ralph Macchio, Joe Seneca, Jami Gertz, Joe Morton, Harry Carey
- Subtitles: : English, Japanese
- Producers : Mark Carliner
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Unqualified
- Studio : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- ASIN : B0002A2WDQ
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,015 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
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You can make a case that Crossroads parallels The Karate Kid in ways. Both films star Ralph Macchio, but, more importantly, both plots, when broken down to essence, rest on a young kid and a savvy old man and their eventual rendezvous with eeeeevil. Macchio is just about perfect for his role. He's a natural actor who always seems like he's not acting but is instead living his life and someone caught him on camera. He's got this unstudied charm about him. He plays Eugene Martone, the so-called "bluesman from Long Island." Except that what Eugene is, is a guitar-playing prodigy who studies classical music at Juilliard in New York. But, oboy, them soulful blues music has sure got him hooked. He's particularly obsessed with legendary bluesman Robert Johnson who supposedly recorded 30 songs during his Texas sessions, except that only 29 exist. Our bluesman from Long Island is on the hunt for that 30th song.
Okay, some plot ***SPOILERS*** ahead.
His poking around guides him to the Eastwick Security Rest Home, a minimum security prison wherein Robert Johnson's old friend, Willie Brown (Joe Seneca) a.k.a. Blind Dog Fulton, is incarcerated for attempted homicide. Now Willie is one of them crusty old hombres. He wants no part of Eugene, never mind that Eugene had gone as far as getting a custodial position at Eastwick's just so he could hobnob with him.
Thing is, Willie Brown harbors a mighty yen to get the ef out of Eastwick's. He's got places to be, things to do, in the short time he's got left. He strikes a deal with Eugene. If Eugene springs him, he'll teach him that fabled 30th song. Pact!
Huge chunks of Crossroads comprise a cross-country road movie, of the bluesman of Long Island and the savvy old harmonica meister moseying from town to sleepy town, always with their eyes fixed on one destination, a certain dusty crossroads somewheres in rural Mississippi. Willie Brown, headin' there for some sort of reckonin'.
It's a coming of age story. Eugene, gifted as he is, is still wet behind the ears, dismissed by Willie for, yeah, sure, he's caught a little bit of lightnin' with his knack for strummin', only there ain't no mileage on the kid, no hard-won experiences, no gut-check life lessons. So, cue Jami Gertz as Frances, tough-talkin', street-wise runaway who picks pockets and messes around with skeevy hotel men to scrape up a livin'. Careful. She looks like heartbreak on legs.
"Who's comin' on up? Who's gonna get their head cut? How about you... chicken boy?"
If you'd ever listened to "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," by the Charlie Daniels Band, then you may catch a whiff of déjà vu with the movie's final fifteen minutes, the electrifying cuttin' heads guitar duel between Eugene and the Devil's champion, Jack Butler (Steve Vai). These being the movies, a suspension of disbelief is a must. I'm no string plucker so I easily bought the authenticity of Macchio's finger work on the Telecaster. (Macchio didn't play guitar going in and had to be taught by guitarist and the film's musical consultant Arlen Roth.) Steve Vai, voted the 10th Greatest Guitarist by Guitar World magazine, reportedly composed and performed all the guitar bits in their duel except the slide guitar portions (which were courtesy of Ry Cooder). Steve Vai is so durn good it's possible he may actually have sold his soul to the Devil. Somewhere in the cosmos is an alternative ending where Vai plays it the way we all know he's capable of, and sends Ralph Macchio straight to hell.
Back in 1986 or '87 I bought the cassette for the Crossroads' soundtrack and wore out the tape. I ate up the music, soaked in the richness and soulfulness and the pain so redolent in them delta blues. In Ralph Macchio's résumé, three movies stand out to me: The Karate Kid, My Cousin Vinny, and Crossroads. He's done other movies; I just don't remember them. Crossroads has got a strong cast, from the three leads to Joe Morton as the Devil's slick lieutenant so mean he'll take a man's last two dollars to Robert Judd as the resplendent, big grinnin' Old Scratch hisself. I love scenes in which underdogs exceed expectations. My two favorite scenes in this one are, of course, the cuttin' heads climax, but also the scene of Lighting Boy and Willie Brown gettin' down in that smoky blues bar. It's all about that satisfying sensation of someone you weren't sure could cut it suddenly cutting it. Heck, a year later, Adventures in Babysitting gave me the same thrill with the "Babysitting Blues" scene.
Far from a piece of formulaic fluff, I view Crossroads as one of the most significant blues texts of its time, precisely because it resonates powerfully, on a symbolic level, with the transformations that were actually occurring in the mainstream American blues world of the early and mid-1980s. Framed in that fashion, it becomes legible as an anxiety formation: a fantasy about the problem of succession as it materializes within an increasingly white “legitimate” blues scene constituted by aficionados and fans, blues societies and organizations, magazines (especially Living Blues), festivals and club gigs, but above all by awards ceremonies, including the W.C. Handy Awards and the Grammys. What happens to the blues when white blues performers begin to win the big awards? What happens to the blues when the African American elders die off and the white inheritors are all that’s left? Is there such a thing as a “fit” white successor to a black blues elder, and, if so, how will he be produced? How will we recognize him?
In the head-cutting scene staged at the end of Crossroads, an essence that might be called white bluesness is split between two young men. The good stuff—the “mileage,” the mojo bag, the supportive interracial partnership—is conferred on one young man. The bad stuff—the overtheatricality of heavy metal, the narcissistic self-regard, the technical wizardry—is conferred on the other young man. White bluesness sanctifies itself by abjecting, throwing away, what it hopes it is not: the dead-souled heavy-metal shredder in black leather pants who diddles all over the 12-bar changes. What remains behind, triumphant, is the real thing, which is to say the white boy who can really play the blues and deserves to take over when the old black guy is gone—his old black guy, the master who teaches him the trade and hands him the torch.
Or at least that’s how the fantasy-world of Crossroads would have it. And the fantasy hopes, desperately, that we fail to notice that Shuggie Otis and his symbolic equivalents have been left out of the picture. Because if we notice the presence of the young black bluesman in the contemporary moment outside the film’s frame, the fantasy of succession falls apart. As it happens, one particular young black bluesman’s presence most definitely was being noticed at the time, especially in the pages of Living Blues, the self-described “journal of the black American blues tradition,” along with the disruptive presence of his most famous white guitar-playing peer.
Crossroads is heavily invested in precisely this fantasy, these questions, because the American blues scene was undergoing a significant transformation between 1983 and 1986 when the film was being brought into being. Four names take you to the heart of that transformation: Muddy Waters, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Robert Cray.