Release year: 1986
Director: Walter Hill
Screenwriter: John Fusco
Starring: Ralph Macchio, Joe Seneca, Jami Gertz, Joe Morton, Robert Judd, Steve Vai, Dennis Lipscomb, Tim Russ
Despite studying classical guitar at the acclaimed Julliard School for Performing Arts, Eugene (Macchio) has a heart beating for blues music. He comes across the tale of the legend of how legendary blues musician Robert Johnson (Russ) sold his soul to the devil and decides to get his hand on his famed ‘missing song’. He finds out Johnson’s longtime friend Willie Brown (Seneca) is still alive and incarcerated for murder in a nearby minimum security prison. Here Eugene goes to see the man and convince him to help him get the song. It becomes the beginning of a life-changing adventure for them both.
A young man played by Macchio is taught skills by an elderly who masters the skills before being tested way beyond his experience. No one can be blamed for comparing this to Macchio greatest hit, The Karate Kid (1984), and there is undoubtedly similarities when it comes to the lay-out. But this mixture of coming-of-age story and homage to the blues music genre is a darker story and shows Macchio in a more mature role and one he handles well. Gertz (The Lost Boys, 1987) is a convincingly blend of cute and mean as the runaway they meet on the way and guitarist Steve Vai (Crazy, 2008) lends his skills in the climax. But Seneca’s (A Time to Kill, 1996) performance as the old blues musician helping Eugene (or maybe just himself?) overshadows all other performances. He is mysterious, mean, charming and all in all, very fleshed out and real. Honestly, the movie is rather average, though good no doubt about that, but it is the famous ending that makes it truly stand out.
Robert Johnson is a real person, an American blues musician who legends says sold his soul to the devil.
Picture copyrights: Sony Pictures