On this day in 1984, the film that elevated Prince in the pop-culture firmament from above-average R&B singer-songwriter to, well, Prince, premiered in Hollywood. Purple Rain was a box-office hit, while the soundtrack went on to win an Oscar for Original Song Score and become one of the biggest-selling albums of the 1980s.
Purple Rain has long been one of Rocks Off's favorite music movies, for two very different reasons. First, there's the music. Prince & the Revolution's songs ("Let's Go Crazy," "Take Me With U," "Darling Nikki") rank among our favorites in the diminutive Purple One's funk-rock/erotic-pop catalog, but there's also two killer cuts from Morris Day & the Time, "Jungle Love" and "The Bird," and even Apollonia 6's "Sex Shooter," which was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Original Song around the same time the rest of the soundtrack was competing for an Oscar.
The other reason we've grown to love Purple Rain so over the years is more along those lines: Besides the first-rate concert sequences shot mainly at Minneapolis' First Avenue, the movie also contains some of the campiest dialogue and most overheated acting we've ever seen, from people who were pretty much playing themselves. The early scene where Morris Day's flunky/bodyguard Jerome dumps one of Morris' female castoffs into a Dumpster never fails to bring us to tears.
Poking around on the Internet today, Rocks Off discovered a copy of director Albert Magnoli's script, adapted from William Blinn's "Dreams" - they received co-credit onscreen - on the INFlow Screenplay Repository. Purple Rain underwent quite a bit of tinkering before reaching the screen, apparently.
For one thing, the draft we found has Prince as "Prince" instead of "The Kid," and the role of his love interest is written for Vanity (and her group "Vanity 6") and not Apollonia. We thought it would be interesting, and perhaps instructive, to see what such indelible musical moments looked like on the page.
Check 'em out before you go purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
MORRIS and The Time rip into a funk tune called "Jungle Love." Their stranglehold on the audience is instantaneous. Morris struts across the stage like a panther, playing to the audience with a relish. His eyes fastened on Prince - his pride unmistakable.
PRINCE watches Morris a moment, then eyes Vanity again. The heat between them is apparent. Vanity's heart is pounding, she's not sure what to do. She keeps her eyes on Morris, hoping that a Solution will present itself.
INT. THE TASTE - NIGHT
Wearing sexy lingerie and moving seductively to the beat, the Girls launch into "Sex Shooter" with complete abandon. The MUSIC is slick and fierce, the Girls sexy and sure. Wearing black bikini panties, black tails and boots, Vanity dances center-stage and begins SINGING. She's mesmerizing, her look so alluring, so profound that the audience sits slack-jawed in amazement. The SPOTLIGHT is hers and she soaks it in, radiating a sexiness that has the audience at her feet.
The entire concept - dress, dance, music and staging -- is overwhelming, with just the right degree of playfulness to allow the Crowd easy passage into the fantasy world the Girls create. Brenda and Susan play off her wonderfully, sharing secret looks with the Crowd, balancing the wickedness of the act with an innocence that is enticing. They're working strongly as a unit now, the AUDIENCE roaring their approval...
INT. CLUB - NIGHT
I would like to do a song that two of my friends wrote.
A MURMUR, cuts through the Crowd like a riptide. Prince snaps a look to Lisa and Wendy and confirms that it is indeed their song. They can't believe it! Tears spring to Wendy's eyes before she knows it ... Prince smiles at her, then gazes at his entire Band. Their eyes fasten on him in an instant. He counts softly and...
MUSIC. The opening bars of "Purple Rain." He turns to to the audience and SINGS.... It's a ballad, a poem really, a plea for understanding, love, and survival. It's a testament, a pact if you will, between himself and others... The AUDIENCE is mesmerized, all EYES are upon him - but Prince doesn't notice. Lips pressed against the mike, dark eyes streaming, he's lost to himself now, loosening all that's within him, cleansing himself of his rage, hatred and pain...
CELEBRATION! Everyone is JUMPING up and down. Prince is radiant, strutting across the stage, his hands upraised. The CROWD goes WILD! He flashes a wide grin to Vanity, then twists, eyeballs the CROWD wickedly, wonderfully. It's too much!
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SHOW ME HOW
The MUSIC segues into a fierce BEAT. The CROWD lets out a ROAR! Prince strips off his guitar, streaks center stage. The Band launches into "Baby, I'm A Star."
...And the CROWD laughing, dancing, shouting and loving. The CLUB is ALIVE! And the MUSIC continues... forever...