Under the Cherry Moon
|Under the Cherry Moon|
|Screenplay by||Becky Johnston|
|Music by||Prince and The Revolution|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$10.1 million|
Under the Cherry Moon is a 1986 romantic musical comedy-drama film starring Prince and marking his directorial debut. The film also stars former The Time member Jerome Benton, Steven Berkoff, Kristin Scott Thomas (in her feature film debut), and Francesca Annis. Although the film underperformed critically and commercially, winning five Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Picture, tying with Howard the Duck, its soundtrack album, entitled Parade, went platinum, selling over a million copies.
Christopher Tracy (Prince) and his friend Tricky (Jerome Benton) are gigolos, originally from Miami, who live on the French Riviera. Christopher works as a piano player at a local restaurant and, along with Tricky, spends his days identifying rich women to target in order to gain large amounts of money. At the beginning of the film, Christopher is in an informal relationship with wealthy spinster Mrs Wellington (Francesca Annis) whilst Tricky is romantically involved with their landlord Katie (Emmanuelle Sallet).
One day, whilst reading the front page of the local newspaper, Tricky notices that Mary Sharon, the wealthy daughter of shipping magnate Isaac Sharon is due to have her 21st birthday and thus inherit a $50 million trust fund established by her father. Deciding that Mary will make a suitable next target, they both gatecrash the 21st birthday party which is being held at the Sharon Estate. Christopher catches the attention of Mary but quickly learns that she is engaged to Jonathan, an employee of her father's. The planned engagement has been arranged by Mary's father as a means of consolidating the fortunes of two powerful families together.
Mary rejects Christopher at the party and both he and Tricky are thrown out by bouncers. Mary visits Christopher the following day at the restaurant where he works and delivers a message from Mrs Wellington to visit her house later that evening. Christopher visits Mrs Wellington but realises that the arrangement is a setup as she is having an affair with Mary's father.
Christopher and Tricky meet with Mary at an exclusive restaurant where they both mock her privileged upbringing and lack of street sensibility. Christopher performs Girls & Boys, but the song is interrupted when Isaac Sharon, alerted to Mary's presence by a maitre d, takes Mary home. Mary is humiliated at the way her father still controls her life and vows to become her own woman.
Both Christopher and Tricky start to genuinely fall in love with Mary but realise that if they continue to pursue her, they will be dealt with severely by her father who has been using his bodyguards to trace them. Christopher and Tricky try to sneak into Mary's bedroom late one night but accidentally disturb her mother instead before running off.
When Christopher fails to show for a meeting with Tricky due to meeting Mary at a nearby racecourse, Tricky gets drunk and reveals to Mary their scam in order to get her money. Mary is hurt by the revelation and plans to leave France with her mother in order to visit Jonathan in New York. Mrs Wellington meets Christopher and tells him that Isaac Sharon will pay him to stay away from his daughter; Christopher is incensed and wins Mary back at the airport.
Isaac Sharon, now aware that Mary is in love with Christopher, alerts the Chief of Police and Coastguard and orders them to locate both his daughter and her lover immediately. The coastguard quickly locates them and shoots Christopher dead. Christopher dies in Mary's arms whilst Isaac, Tricky and Katie look on.
In the film's epilogue, it is revealed that Tricky has moved back to Miami with Katie and is now in charge of his own apartment complex which has been bought for him by Mary. Mary reveals in a letter to Tricky that she is moving on with her life but will never forget Christopher as long as she lives.
- Prince as Christopher Tracy
- Jerome Benton as Tricky
- Kristin Scott Thomas as Mary Sharon
- Steven Berkoff as Isaac Sharon, Mary's father and a billionaire shipping magnate
- Emmanuelle Sallet as Katy
- Alexandra Stewart as Mrs. Muriel Sharon, Mary's mother
- Francesca Annis as Mrs. Wellington
- Victor Spinetti, Myriam Tadesse, and Moune De Vivier as The Jaded Three
Following the huge success of Purple Rain and Prince becoming one of the biggest stars in the world, the musician had pretty much carte-blanche when developing ideas for a new film and the studio green-lit the project without even having seen a script, expecting another success like its predecessor. With no experience as scriptwriter, Becky Johnson from New York was assigned to develop a screenplay. Despite her lack of experience Prince and the studio were willing to take a leap of faith based upon a test screenplay she wrote.
Prince wanted the film to be a romantic comedy with a 1930s vibe set in an exotic location like Palm Beach, Miami or Capri. The idea was then born to shoot the film in France and in mid-June 1985 Prince together with his manager Steve Fargnoli and tour manager Alan Leeds flew to France to scout locations and meet with potential cast. After visiting the French Riviera Prince decided he wanted to shoot the film there.
Prince wanted Jean-Baptiste Mondino to direct, but when he was unavailable video director Mary Lambert was recruited. German cinematographer Michael Ballhaus was hired as director of photography.
Filming started at the Victorine Studios in Nice, France on September 14, 1985, directed by Mary Lambert, the director behind some of Madonna's and Janet Jackson's most popular music videos, but after disagreements about the film's direction, she left the production on November 4 after 16 days of filming and Prince took over directing himself. Lambert is listed as a creative consultant in the film's credits. Prince was able to take over the production as it was being filmed in Europe and thus did not fall afoul of the Directors Guild of America who veto directors being fired in favor of lead performers taking over their duties.
The cast was also changed during pre-production. Prince originally had planned to have Susannah Melvoin (sister of Revolution member Wendy Melvoin, as well as Prince's girlfriend at the time) play Mary Sharon, but it was clear she couldn't act and Prince replaced her with Kristin Scott Thomas (in her feature debut).
The film was conceived by Prince as being filmed in black and white, but Warner Brothers had concerns that this would reduce its commercial appeal- a deal was struck where the film would be shot on color stock but processed into black and white in post-production. None of the color footage has yet emerged with the exception of the music videos for Mountains which is the same as the end credits sequence in the picture but kept in its original coloured format.
Under the Cherry Moon, along with its soundtrack album, marked the first of many recorded collaborations between Prince and jazz keyboardist/composer-arranger Clare Fischer, whose orchestral arrangements had by this time become highly demanded by pop and R&B acts, stemming from his initial arrangements for Rufus and Chaka Khan in the early 1970s. Appearing in the credits as "Orchestra Composed and Arranged by...," Fischer's contribution was further acknowledged by Prince in both the film's closing titles and the album's liner notes:
2 Clare Fischer 4 Making Brighter the Colors
Black and White 
All tracks are written by Prince, except where noted.
|1.||"Christopher Tracy's Parade" (Prince, John L. Nelson)||2:11|
|3.||"I Wonder U"||1:39|
|4.||"Under the Cherry Moon" (Prince, Nelson)||2:57|
|5.||"Girls & Boys"||5:29|
|6.||"Life Can Be So Nice"||3:13|
|7.||"Venus de Milo"||1:55|
|8.||"Mountains" (Prince, Wendy & Lisa)||3:57|
|9.||"Do U Lie?"||2:44|
|10.||"Kiss" (Prince, arranged by David Z)||3:37|
|12.||"Sometimes It Snows in April" (Prince, Wendy & Lisa)||6:48|
The film also includes several pieces of music that were not on the Parade album. The opening introduction scene features a piano accompaniment (later credited as "An Honest Man" although it is not related to the acapella track of the same name included on the Crystal Ball compilation). The scene where Mary and Christopher dance on the restaurant balcony was accompanied by "Alexa De Paris", later featured as a B-Side on the 1986 release of Mountains and 1993 single Letitgo. The single release of Kiss includes "Love or Money" which is featured later in the film as Tricky and Christopher go on a shopping spree with Mary. Excerpts from the opening of Jill Jones' single Mia Bocca are included during the scenes at Mary's birthday party. The song Old Friends 4 Sale is featured near the end of the movie and would later lend its name to an outtakes album released in 1999 which also featured it in a more orchestrated version than the original (The Vault: Old Friends 4 Sale)
Under the Cherry Moon failed to gain any breakout audience, regardless of much pre-publicity including a special MTV premiere in Sheridan, Wyoming. It was held there after a fan won a contest to have the film shown in her hometown. The film earned $3,150,924 in its opening weekend from 976 venues, ranking #11 at the domestic box office (according to the Daily Variety Chart), and the fourth-highest among the weekend's new releases. At the end of its run, the film's final domestic gross was $10,090,429.
The film received generally negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it currently holds a 36% score based on 36 reviews, with an average rating of 3.86/10. The site's consensus states: "Under the Cherry Moon may satisfy the most rabid Prince fans, but everyone else will be better served with this vanity project's far superior soundtrack."
Siskel & Ebert gave them film "Two Thumbs Down" on their review show, later including it on their Worst of 1986 list. Ebert commented on the Worst of 1986 show that "the film achieves a nice glossy black and white look and then never figures out what to do with it".
In 2016, Peter Sobczynski, writing for Roger Ebert's website, reappraised Under the Cherry Moon, calling it a better film than Purple Rain, and stating that the film's contemporaneous negative reception had been due to people expecting it to resemble Purple Rain.
The film was a multiple winner at the 7th Golden Raspberry Awards, winning five awards. The categories were: Worst Picture (tied with Howard the Duck), Worst Actor and Worst Director (Prince), Worst Supporting Actor (Jerome Benton), and Worst Original Song ("Love or Money"). It was also nominated for Worst Supporting Actress and Worst New Star (Kristin Scott Thomas), and Worst Screenplay.
Under the Cherry Moon was first released on DVD on February 8, 2005. The film was released on Blu-ray for the first time on October 4, 2016, separately in a purple case and as part of the Prince Movie Collection.
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he was really the first person to give me my first job as an actress in a film
- Macnab, Geoffrey (October 24, 2020). "Why award-winning Kristin Scott Thomas turns prickly when she is described as an English rose". Belfast Telegraph. Archived from the original on October 30, 2020.
Bizarrely, Prince was the first to spot Scott Thomas. "You have an amazing talent," he told her when he cast her in Under the Cherry Moon
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