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For, Friday, March 12, 2021

EDITOR’S NOTE: Despite the last line in the review below, Kino Lorber believes this rock musical-romance has an audience willing to fork over $20 for a new Blu-ray upgrade of Rick Springfield’s 1980s attempt to cross over to movie stardom. So ignore my advice if you must but gear up for disappointment. The review was published in the Deseret News on April 12, 1984. (And by the way, the poster referred to in the review is the same one that’s on the Blu-ray box cover.)

Neil Diamond played a rock star in his film debut, “The Jazz Singer,” and Paul Simon, in his firs starring role in “One-Trick Pony” also played a rock star.

So, using all the imagination they could muster — and no doubt using those films as inspiration — Rick Springfield’s backers came up with “Hard to Hold,” casting their talent as. …What else? A rock star.

Actually, there’s nothing wrong with that. It makes perfectly good sense, in fact. But there was a lot wrong with “The Jazz Singer” and “One-Trick Pony” — and there’s even more wrong with “Hard to Hold.”


  Patti Hansen, Rick Springfield, 'Hard to Hold' (1984)

The ads for this movie make it look like a humorous reworking of “Woman of the Year,” with Springfield as a famed rock star pursued by groupies everywhere he goes, and Janet Eilber as the woman he falls for. The joke is that Eilber not only doesn’t want anything to do with Springfield, she hates rock music and doesn’t even know who he is.

That’s actually a pretty good basis on which to build a funny comedy. Alas, screenwriter Tom Hedley prefers a clichéd, morose romantic-drama approach, and neither director Larry Peerce nor his cast are up to it. Worse, what comic scenes there are come in heavy-handed, prolonged sequences that choke the jokes the death.

There’s also an ending right out of “An Officer and a Gentleman,” fast becoming the most copied cinematic trick of the season, but there is no dramatic punch to carry us there.

There’s also a death that’s supposed to be overwhelmingly traumatic to Eilber’s character but we don’t get enough character development — for either Eilber or the character who dies — to make us understand what she’s feeling.


And then there’s Springfield’s desire to transcend the mediocrity of stardom and create great music, which is so unbelievable it simply can’t be taken seriously.

Springfield, who is a regular on TV’s daytime soap “General Hospital,” and Eilber, who was good in “Whose Life Is It, Anyway?” are generally ineffective and superficial here, but much worse is Patti Hansen, who was so funny and sexy in Peter Bogdanovich’s “They All Laughed” a couple of years ago but who overacts terribly as Springfield’s mean-spirited, foul-mouthed writing partner/part-time lover.

To be fair, though, no one looks good in “Hard to Hold,” which is obviously an ill-conceived vehicle for its star.

The PG rating is pushed to the limit with sex and nudity throughout, along with profanity. But it hardly lives up to the steamy “Body Heat”-style print ads you see in the newspaper.

In fact, I’m not sure who will like this movie, unless Springfield has an especially tolerant fan club.