Back in the early 80’s Rick Springfield was seen as a bit of a double threat – actor and rock star. His song “Jessie’s Girl” hit number one in 1981, meanwhile he was playing Dr. Noah Drake on the soap opera General Hospital. Still, he was a soap opera star – not exactly considered the height of the acting profession. Could he make it as a movie star? To answer that question a plot was hatched to get all his daytime television watching female fans to turn out for a big screen outing that would combine both Springfield’s acting and musical prowess. The result was 1984’s Hard to Hold.
Springfield plays Jamie Roberts, a rock star who fills stadiums for his concerts and sweats profusely on stage. After one particularly big show in San Francisco, Jamie decides to hop into the shower before the traditional backstage party. But when his psycho ex-girlfriend / songwriting partner Nicky (Patti Hansen) shows up in a rage, he sneaks out wearing only a towel. Yes ladies, he does flash his butt to the camera a few times. Borrowing one of his roadies’ car, he heads back to the hotel. Unfortunately, he ends up in a bit of a fender bender with child psychologist Diana Lawson (Janet Eilber) along the way.
Despite the fact that he didn’t get her address, let alone her name, a new car is delivered to her home the next day – which she sends back. Later, Jamie shows up on her lawn with a Tony Bennett impersonator and full band to try and win her over. Apparently this was just the ticket, ‘cause next thing we know these two are upstairs bumpin’ uglies. See guys, it’s the simple things that make all the difference.
Now, Diana is down with this one night stand stuff, but she’s not really keen on becoming a rock star’s girlfriend. Jamie has other ideas, however, and soon the two become a legit couple. When Jamie has his own little Hard Day’s Night moment of being chased by fans through the streets, Diana get so hot and bothered she practically begs him to make love to her while they duck behind a fence. It’s not all rosy for these two, though. Psycho-ex Nicky is out to destroy this new love, and Jamie’s manager is convinced that his star’s inability to write any new songs is because of this new female distraction.
In many ways Hard to Hold feels like Springfield was trying to live out his rock star fantasies. Let’s face it, the dude had a few hit records but he was nowhere close to being one of the big music acts of the 80’s. Here his character is essentially the biggest rock star in the world, and it all comes across as wishful thinking more than anything else. Heck, the being chased by fans scene is a classic case of Beatles-envy. Springfield’s character also happens to be a bit too squeaky clean to be convincing as a self-absorbed rocker. When his shows are done, there are no groupies or lines of cocaine waiting for him – just his Space Invaders machine.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that much of the film definitely has a soap opera feel to it. That is to say, the film lacks any real depth. The sequence involving (spoiler alert) the death of Diana’s father especially feels as if it could’ve been plucked off a soap. Springfield’s approach to the acting also reflects daytime TV sensibilities. Diana Lawson, on the other hand, turns in a pretty solid performance despite the limitations of the script she has to work with.
The film’s soundtrack certainly holds some appeal for 80’s music fans. The climactic song, “Love Somebody,” peaked at number five on the Billboard charts in the spring of 84. It fared much better than the film that inspired it. Hard to Hold ended the year as the 75th most popular movie of the year. There just weren’t many people who wanted to go to the movies to see a rock ‘n’ roll soap opera.