Filmed in 1986, this film has become cult status and you may catch it being shown occasionally late night on BBC2 or other Art Channels.
The magic of this Walter Hill (director) movie is the atmosphere and kind of ‘lost’ feel it creates. It’s sad yet gives hope.
The scenes at the actual crossroads capture exactly the loneliness and despair of someone searching for their soul.
Ralph Macchio (of The Karate Kid fame) plays Eugene Martone, a classical guitar student, but really a believer and follower of American Blues.
To pay his rent and scolarship overheads he works in a run down Old Folks Home where he stumbles accross old Blues Harmonica player Willie Brown, but also known as Blind Dog Fulton and Smokehouse Brown (played by Joe Seneca).
Eugine asks him about the lost song of Robert Johnson and where he can find it.
After some sparring, Willie Brown agrees to take him there, but on the condition Eugine gets him out of the Home, which he duly does and the story continues as they make their way by foul means and foe to the Deep South, meeting up with Frances, played by Jami Gertz on the way.
Adventures follow and they finally get to reach the place, when Willie Brown declares there is no lost song after all, but his real intentions are to get his soul back which he sold at the Crossroads many years before.
Finally, they meet up the the Devils Assistant who agrees that, if Eugine can win a guitar competition against their main man, they’ll tear up the Contract.
What follows is a masterful lead guitar contest between Eugine and their representative played by the great Steve Vai. Just as it looks like they’ve lost the battle, Eugine comes out with a mixture of classical and heavy rock guitar to win – and the stories over.
The movie also goes into the problems of race, crime and life in general on the way and a young mans ‘blooding’ into the real world.
If you like Blues music and want to watch something which, fo me anyway, conquers up the meaning of it, this is a great film to watch and the kind of film you can watch over and over again and still be moved by it. The music is haunting.
Columbia Pictures Production
Stars Ralph Macchio, Joe Seneca, Jami Gertz, Steve Vai.
Music by Ry Cooper
Director of Photography; John Bale
Director; Walter Hill
Songs – Crossroads, Down in Missippi, Cotton Needs Pickin, Viola Lee Blues, See you in Hell Blind Boy, Nitty Gritty Missippi, He made a woman out of me, Feelin’ bad blues, Somebody’s callin’ my name, Willie Brown Blues, Walkin Away Blues