Purple Rain (film)

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Purple Rain
Prince PurpleRainMovie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Albert Magnoli
Produced by Robert Cavallo
Stephen Fargnoli
Joseph Ruffalo
Written by Albert Magnoli
William Blinn
Starring Prince
Apollonia Kotero
Morris Day
Clarence Williams III
Olga Karlatos
Music by Prince
John L. Nelson
Michel Colombier
Cinematography Donald E. Thorin
Editing by Albert Magnoli
Ken Robinson
Studio Purple Films
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • July 27, 1984 (1984-07-27)
Running time 111 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Box office $68,392,977[2]

Purple Rain is a 1984 American rock musical drama film directed by Albert Magnoli and written by Magnoli and William Blinn. Prince makes his film debut, which was developed to showcase his particular talents, hence, the film contains several extended concert sequences. The film grossed more than US$80 million at the box office and became a cult classic.[3] This film was the only feature film starring Prince that he did not direct. The film was nominated for two Razzie Awards including Worst New Star for Kotero and Worst Original Song for "Sex Shooter".[4]

A sequel, Graffiti Bridge, was released in 1990.


"The Kid" is the talented but troubled frontman of his Minneapolis-based band, The Revolution. To escape his difficult home life - his father is verbally and physically abusive, and his mother is emotionally abusive - he spends his days rehearsing and his nights performing at the First Avenue nightclub. Competing with the Revolution for First Avenue's three house band slots is the flashy Morris Day and his group The Time. Morris knows that the Kid's guitarist, Wendy, and keyboardist, Lisa, are growing disgruntled with the Kid's leadership of the band, especially his refusal to play any of the music they have composed. Playing on the rift, Morris lobbies Billy, the nightclub's owner, to back a more commercial girl group (which Morris is already forming) to replace the Revolution. He targets the Kid's girlfriend Apollonia - an aspiring singer, newly-arrived in Minneapolis - for the group, and tries to persuade her that the Kid will never help her establish herself because he can't even establish himself. Apollonia eventually relents and joins Morris' group, which Morris names Apollonia 6; when she reveals this to the Kid, he becomes furious and slaps her.

At the club, the Kid responds to the internal band strife and pressure to draw more crowds with an uncomfortably edgy performance of "Darling Nikki". The implications of the performance publicly humiliate Apollonia, who runs off in tears, and anger both Morris and Billy, which only makes the Kid's problems worse. Billy confronts the Kid, pointing out his father's wasted musical talent and stating that he's following the same path. The premiere of Apollonia 6 is a success, and Billy warns the Kid that his slot is threatened. The Kid seizes Apollonia from a drunken Morris and, after driving her to a railroad yard, begins to manhandle her. The Kid stops just short of striking her, and she abandons him. He returns home, to find the house a mess and his mother gone. When he turns on the basement light, his father - who had been lurking in the basement with a loaded handgun - shoots himself in the head. In a frenzy after a night of torment, the Kid tears apart the basement, only to find a large box of his father's musical compositions. The next morning, the Kid picks up a cassette tape of one of Wendy and Lisa's compositions - a rhythm track named "Slow Groove" - and begins to compose.

That night at First Avenue, all is quiet in the Revolution's dressing room until Morris stops by to taunt the Kid about his family life. Once on stage, the Kid announces that he will be playing "a song the girls in the band wrote", dedicated to his father - revealed to be "Purple Rain". At the song ends, the Kid rushes from the stage and out the back door of the club, intending to ride away on his motorcycle. However, he stops short - the crowd is thrilled by his new song. The Kid returns to the club, to be greeted by the approval of his fellow musicians and the embrace of a teary-eyed Apollonia. The Kid returns to the stage for two encores with the Revolution, to the wild approval of the crowd (even Morris and Jerome); overlaid scenes show the Kid visiting his father in the hospital and sorting his father's compositions in the basement, accompanied by Apollonia. A reprise of all the songs plays as the credits roll.




The idea was apparently developed by Prince during his "Triple Threat" tour. Initially the script was to be darker and more coherent. Prince intended to cast Vanity, leader of the girl group Vanity 6, but she left the group before filming began. Her role was initially offered to Jennifer Beals (who turned it down because she wanted to concentrate on college) before going to Apollonia Kotero, a virtual unknown at the time. Excluding Prince and his on-screen parents, almost every character in the movie is named after the actor who plays him or her.

Although the film was considered "outrageous" at that time by Warner Bros., it was finally accepted for distribution thanks to music industry PR man Howard Bloom.[5]


Filmed almost entirely in Minneapolis, the film features many local landmarks, including the Crystal Court of the IDS Center (also shown in segments of the opening credits to The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and the legendary First Avenue nightclub. First Avenue was paid $100,000 for use of the club in filming; it was closed for 25 days.[6] A notable error, either geographic or taxi fare related, shows Apollonia running up (and bailing on) a $37.75 cab fare going from the Greyhound Station to the nightclub. In reality, they were just across the street from each other.

The Huntington Hotel which Apollonia stayed in is located at 752 S. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014. This was a late pickup shot and is shown in the movie to be across the street from First Avenue though it clearly is not. The motorcycle Prince rides in the film is a customized Hondamatic Honda CB400A.[7]


The film is tied into the album of the same name, which spawned two chart-topping singles: "When Doves Cry" and the opening number "Let's Go Crazy", while "Purple Rain" reached #2. The film won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. The soundtrack sold over 10 million copies in America alone, and 20 million worldwide.[8]


  1. ^ "PURPLE RAIN (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 1984-07-05. Retrieved 2013-05-14. 
  2. ^ Purple Rain (1984) at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Rockhall.com
  4. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0. 
  5. ^ The Park Slope man who saved ‘Purple Rain’! By Jacob Kleinman (for The Brooklyn Paper)
  6. ^ Purple Rain/First Avenue Agreement
  7. ^ Imcdb.org
  8. ^ Hindustantimes.com

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