Purple Rain (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Albert Magnoli|
|Produced by||Robert Cavallo
|Written by||Albert Magnoli
Clarence Williams III
John L. Nelson
|Cinematography||Donald E. Thorin|
|Edited by||Albert Magnoli
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||111 minutes|
|Box office||$68.4 million|
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. 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".
"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. First Avenue's three house band slots are held by The Revolution, the flashy Morris Day and his group The Time, and Dez Dickerson and The Modernaires. 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. Taking advantage of the situation, Morris lobbies Billy Sparks, 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 his 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 her partnership with his rival to the Kid, he becomes furious and slaps her.
At the club, the Kid responds to the internal band strife and the pressure to draw more crowds with an uncomfortably edgy performance of "Darling Nikki". The Kid's performance publicly humiliates Apollonia, who runs off in tears, and angers 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 debut of Apollonia 6 is a success, and Billy warns the Kid that his First Avenue 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 to release his anger, 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". As 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, before he can mount his motorcycle, he realizes that 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); overlaid scenes show the Kid visiting his father in the hospital and sorting his father's compositions in the basement, accompanied by Apollonia.
- Prince as The Kid
- Apollonia Kotero as Apollonia
- Morris Day as Morris
- Clarence Williams III as Father, a.k.a. "Francis L."
- Olga Karlatos as Mother
- Jerome Benton as Jerome
- Jill Jones as Jill
- Dez Dickerson as Dez
- The Revolution as themselves
- The Time as themselves
- Lisa Coleman as Lisa
- Wendy Melvoin as Wendy
- Sheila E. as Morris' Jilted Date
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.
- "Let's Go Crazy" - Prince and the Revolution
- "Jungle Love" - The Time
- "Take Me with U" - Prince and the Revolution featuring Apollonia
- "Modernaire" - Dez Dickerson and the Modernaires
- "The Beautiful Ones" - Prince and the Revolution
- "When Doves Cry" - Prince
- "Computer Blue" - Prince and the Revolution
- "Darling Nikki" - Prince and the Revolution
- "Sex Shooter" - Apollonia 6
- "The Bird" - The Time
- "Purple Rain" - Prince and the Revolution
- "I Would Die 4 U" - Prince and the Revolution
- "Baby I'm a Star" - Prince and the Revolution
Prince developed the 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. Excluding Prince and his on-screen parents, almost every character in the movie is named after the actor who plays him or her.
After the character change from Vanity to Apollonia, the script was drastically revised and many dark scenes were cut. Some of these scenes include Prince and Apollonia having sex in a barn (a concept which was the story behind the 1985 song "Raspberry Beret"); Prince going to Apollonia 6's rehearsal and engaging in a physical fight with the members of The Time; and a scene which featured Prince's mother talking to him about her shaky relationship with his father. In addition, many scenes such as the Lake Minnetonka scene, Apollonia first meeting Morris, and the railyard scene were cut down because of time restraints. Many clips from these scenes were featured, however, in the trailer for the movie as well as the "When Doves Cry" montage.
Principal photography took place 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. 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.
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.
Purple Rain received positive reviews. It currently holds a 74% rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes and a 45/100 rating on Metacritic. The film was a box office success, grossing $68,392,977 in the United States.
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