Blu-ray Commentary: “Hard To Hold”

Yes, Hard To Hold is one of those silly movies from the ’80s where a rock or pop star took a stab at big screen stardom. In this case, it was teen heartthrob Rick Springfield. Directed by Larry Peerce, the musical rom-com had to walk a line between appealing to the tween and young teen girls who idolized Springfield and the older soap opera fans who lusted for him because of General Hospital. Since these were the days before the PG-13 rating, that made it tricky. Both Springfield and his co-star Janet Eilber are better than critics gave them credit for, especially her. By the way, he’s still popular and proven himself as a songwriter with long-lasting appeal, and she is now the artistic director of the prestigious Martha Graham Dance Company in Manhattan. She started as a talented dancer prior to her movie and television career in the 1980s. Pretty cool.

Hard To Hold has a simple set-up: Spoiled rocker James Roberts (Springfield) falls head over heels for child psychologist Diana Lawson (Eilber) after a near head-on collision during a fender bender. He keeps trying to woo her while she blows him off. Over time, the seemingly uptight therapist becomes less immune to his charms while he learns to act more maturely. Meanwhile, Roberts’ songwriting partner and former lover Nicky Nides (Patti Hansen) generates friction between them. San Francisco also acts as a character in all of this.

I loaded up my commentary with a lot of Springfield and ’80s trivia (I read his memoir too), and I tracked down as many of the locations as I could. I also contacted Eilber, and she graciously gave me some of her time and offered some great memories. I quote her throughout the track. Being a child of the ’80s, I had a blast putting this together. I also added in my analysis of certain scenes based on my own experiences in the music industry. While Hard To Hold is not an American classic, it should be fun viewing for Rick Springfield fans young and old.

The following quotes are from reviews for my commentary work on Hard To Hold. Click on a logo to go to each review site directly.

“In this new audio commentary, entertainment journalist and author Bryan Reesman shares plenty of interesting information about the staging/filming of the live performances that are see in Hard to Hold, Rick Springfield’s popularity with the ladies, the members of the band that Rick’s character works with, the blending of romance and comedy, Janet Eilber’s performance and career, etc. It is a typically excellent, very nicely researched commentary.”

“Springfield, who was starring in the soap opera General Hospital at the time, was always a decent actor, and—as the excellent audio commentary by Bryan Reesman notes—was offered a small part in the film The Right Stuff. He turned it down to do Hard to Hold. Big mistake.”

“Kino also has a new Blu-ray of Peerce’s 1984 Rick Springfield vehicle Hard to Hold out, and while the movie’s appeal is highly dependent on one’s personal affection for Springfield’s music (as an unabashed fan, I’ve always loved it), the Kino disc is worth a look even for non-enthusiasts thanks to journalist Bryan Reesman’s commentary track. Reesman talks a mile a minute and jams every one of Hard to Hold’s 93 minutes with fascinating trivia not only about Springfield – like the fact that he turned down a role in Philip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff! – but about the movie and music businesses of the era and the position both the movie and album Hard to Hold occupied within them. The movie itself has a much worse reputation than it deserves, largely because Springfield himself, presumably regretful over his decision to make it rather than The Right Stuff, has consistently bashed it over the years. His shame is unwarranted, however; while Hard to Hold lacks the stylistic vigor of the Prince opus Purple Rain, which came out a few months later, its tale of a rock star who falls in love with a spunky child psychologist (Janet Eilber) is presented with warmth and idiosyncratic humor, and the soundtrack – which features songs by Peter Gabriel and Graham Parker in addition to Springfield – is killer.”

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