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
Edited by Albert Magnoli
Ken Robinson
Purple Films
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s)
  • July 27, 1984 (1984-07-27)
Running time 111 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7.2 million[2]
Box office $68,392,977[3]

Purple Rain is a 1984 American rock musical drama film directed by Albert Magnoli and written by Magnoli and William Blinn. In it, 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.[4] Purple Rain is the only feature film starring Prince that he did not direct. The film won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score, currently the last film to receive the award. It was nominated for two Razzie Awards, including Worst New Star for Apollonia Kotero and Worst Original Song for "Sex Shooter".[5]

A semi-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.

The film opens with the famous “Let’s Go Crazy” sequence, comprising little edits of punky/New Romantic-looking people in the crowd, and Prince adjusting his eyelashes and hands on the mixing board. During this sequence we see Morris Day of The Time at home with an Aunt Jemima kerchief tied around his head, and Apollonia pull up in a cab outside. She ditches her fare, gets a hotel room across the street, and heads over to the club, where she sneaks in past the Bear Icon bouncer and gives her name to a waitress, hoping to perform at the club. She lists her age as 19, although she looks 37. Appollonia is transfixed by Prince’s guitar solo. (She moved to the city, checked into the hotel room, and passed her contact info to club management in the final two minutes of the song), then is transfixed anew by Morris Day as he and The Time perform "Jungle Love". She turns around to find Prince staring at her intensely, then he dons a pair of round mirrored "John Lennon glasses" and stands right behind her. By the time she can muster an "I really liked your song, too", he’s gone.

Prince rides home on his purple motorcycle. He goes in to find his father beating up his mother; he tries to break them up and gets hit himself. Then he’s back in the club and a waitress is giving him a song by Wendy & Lisa, members of his band, but he doesn’t want to listen to it because he’s a megalomaniac. 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. Morris and his lackey/servant Jerome are watching two girls (the other two members of Vanity 6), and Morris instructs them: "Let’s see some asses wiggling". They oblige, and Morris and Jerome then step outside, where Morris is confronted by a woman who complains that he stood her up. Jerome stands next to her shaking his head, and claiming that "She just doesn’t get it”. He picks the woman up and throws her into a dumpster.

Appollonia stops by the club and encounters Prince, who asks her to give him a bracelet off her boot. He then takes it and walks off, refusing to give it back. She hops on the back of his bike, and they go for a pastoral country ride. They stop by a lake, and Prince tells her that she must purify herself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka". Appollonia, after giving him a sly glance, proceeds to undress, removing her leather corset to reveal her large bosom, as Prince looks on in satisfaction. She jumps into cold waters of the lake, but Prince then informs her that the body of water she just jumped into is not Lake Minnetonka. He then takes off on his motorcycle and makes her think he has left her to walk home. However, he circles back after a few minutes to give her a ride. When she lifts her leg to get on the bike, he guns the engine and pulls ahead. Then he does it again, and again, before finally letting her on. When she finally does get on the bike he cheekily looks back and says, "Don’t get my seat all wet".

Morris targets Apollonia for the girl 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 titled "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 club's back door, 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. He 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.




Prince developed the film concept 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. Prince had seen her appearance on the February, 1983 episode of Tales of the Gold Monkey, in which she played a saucy island girl who was sleeping with a German man of the cloth.[6] Excluding Prince and his on-screen parents, almost every character in the movie is named after the actor who plays him or her.

Although Warner Bros. considered the film was considered "outrageous" at that time, it was finally accepted for distribution thanks to music industry PR man Howard Bloom.[7]


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.[8] 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 are just across the street from each other.[citation needed]

The Huntington Hotel, where Apollonia stayed, 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. The motorcycle Prince rides in the film is a customized Hondamatic Honda CB400A.[9]


Main article: Purple Rain (album)

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", and "Purple Rain" which 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.[10]


  1. ^ "PURPLE RAIN (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 1984-07-05. Retrieved 2013-05-14. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Purple Rain (1984) at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ Rockhall.com "Prince". Rockhall. 
  5. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0. 
  6. ^ Hahn 2004, p. 118.
  7. ^ Jacob Kleinman. "The Park Slope man who saved ‘Purple Rain’!". The Brooklyn Paper. 
  8. ^ "Purple Rain/First Avenue Agreement". Discussions.mnhs.org. 
  9. ^ "Vehicle 137249 Honda CB 400 A 1981". Imcdb.org. 
  10. ^ "Those chart busters". Hindustantimes.com. 


  • Hahn, Alex (2004). Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince. Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7749-7. 

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