“There are many kings. King Solomon, King Tut, King James, King Kong, and the Three Kings, but there is only one Prince.” – Alicia Keys inducting Prince into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in 2004
The entertainment world lost a legend yesterday with the untimely passing of Prince. The iconic performer was found dead at his Paisley Park complex on the morning of April 21, he was only 57. Best known for his musical genius, Prince left a Hollywood legacy as well – appearing in four movies (three of which he directed) and writing and performing songs for blockbusters like BATMAN (1989).
PURPLE RAIN and BATMAN are good movies and SIGN O’ THE TIMES has some great performance footage and UNDER THE CHERRY MOON is a visual and musical Prince-fest, so spend some time this weekend celebrating and remembering ‘The Purple One’ with his music and movies.
Prince on Film
PURPLE RAIN (1984)
Prince’s sixth studio album is also the soundtrack to his film debut. The album is regularly ranked among the best albums ever and is considered by many to be Prince’s greatest. Time magazine ranked it the 15th greatest album of all time in 1993, and it placed 18th on VH1’s Greatest Rock and Roll Albums of All Time countdown. Rolling Stone ranked it the second-best album of the 1980s and 76th on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The film was also a hit raking in strong box office and earning an Academy Award in 1985 for…you got it, Best Original Song Score.
The movie introduced mainstream America to Prince in a big way and cemented his place as the funkiest, sexiest MF who ever wore a fringe shirt and that much purple. Along from the eponymous title song, “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy” topped the charts off the album.
UNDER THE CHERRY MOON (1986)
Directed by and starring Prince as a gigolo named Christopher Tracy and former Time member Jerome Benton as his partner, Tricky. Together, the pair swindle wealthy French women. The situation gets complicated when Christopher falls in love with heiress Mary Sharon (Kristin Scott Thomas) after planning to swindle her when he finds out that she receives a $50 million trust fund on her 21st birthday. Mary’s father Isaac (Steven Berkoff) disapproves of the romance and provides an excellent adversary for Tracy. UNDER THE CHERRY MOON proved it was hard to capture lighting in a bottle twice, as the album and film did poorly compared to the success of PURPLE RAIN.
SIGN O’ THE TIMES (1987)
To support the album of the same name, Prince decided to direct a concert tour movie (something that artists often did before the Internet and YouTube). A dud at the box office when it was released, the film saw a resurgence in home video and has been critically acclaimed for years.
Director Tim Burton originally asked Prince to contribute a couple of songs to his upcoming superhero movie, instead he came back with a nine song soundtrack that peaked at No.1 on the Billboard 200, selling 4.3 million copies. The single “Batdance” topped the Billboard and R&B charts. Additionally, the single “The Arms of Orion” with Sheena Easton charted at No. 36, and “Partyman” (also featuring the vocals of Prince’s then-girlfriend, nicknamed Anna Fantastic) charted at No. 18 on the Hot 100 and at No. 5 on the R&B chart, while the love ballad “Scandalous!” went to No. 5 on the R&B chart.
For those who only think of Nolan-Bale when they think of Batman – the original Burton-Keaton movie was a critical and financial success, earning over $400 million in box office totals. It was the fifth-highest grossing film in history at the time of its release, it was the first film to earn $100 million in its first ten days of release, received several Saturn Award nominations and a Golden Globe nomination, and won an Academy Award.
GRAFFITI BRIDGE (1990)
In this semi-sequel to PURPLE RAIN, we see where The Kid ends up. Again pitted against his nemesis Morris Day for ownership of their club, Prince delivered a critical and box office bomb. Nominated for numerous Razzies, the movie is often many ‘Worst’ lists. Prince directed and starred. Luckily, the album soundtrack for the film was better received.