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A Prince on screen, from 'Purple Rain' to 'Graffiti Bridge'

22 April 2016, 10:58

Los Angeles — Flamboyant, expressive and larger than life despite his diminutive stature, Prince fit perfectly in Hollywood. He won an Oscar, starred in a big-screen hit, wrote and directed, and lent his songs to scores of productions.

Prince, who died unexpectedly Thursday at age 57, won an Academy Award for his original songs in 1984's "Purple Rain," the film that introduced him to the movie-going masses.

Wearing ruffles, eyeliner and Jheri curl, Prince made his acting debut playing a sexy, androgynous young musician on the cusp of fame. His character, the Kid, was escaping his parents, falling in love with Apollonia and battling Morris Day for top billing.

The film amplified Prince's sex-symbol status and popularity in real life. He had released five albums before making "Purple Rain," which shot him to the top of music charts around the world.

Besides winning the Oscar for Original Song Score (a category that no longer exists), the "Purple Rain" soundtrack won Grammy Awards for its writing and performance.

The film received mixed reviews, but Roger Ebert gave it a thumbs-up, calling it "one of the best combinations I've seen of music and drama." It was also a box-office success with $68 million in ticket sales.

In 1986, Prince directed and starred in "Under the Cherry Moon," which critics panned. The New York Times described Prince's character as "a self-caressing twerp of dubious provenance" and the Chicago Tribute called the film "absurdly bad." The soundtrack, "Parade," was well-received, though, and yielded the dance-floor standard "Kiss."

All the while, Prince was writing new music, and the following year he released a concert film called "Sign O' The Times," comprising songs from his double album of the same name.

He composed the soundtrack for the 1989 "Batman" film starring Michael Keaton. "Batdance" became a No. 1 single.

A year later, Prince wrote, directed and starred in "Graffiti Bridge," a sort-of sequel to "Purple Rain." This time, the Kid and Morris are fighting over ownership of a nightclub called the Glam Slam. Prince really owned such a place in Los Angeles for a time. The real club was cool, but the movie was just mediocre.

Prince's songs — both those he performed and those written for other artists — have appeared in many movies. Among the most memorable: Sheila E.'s "A Love Bizarre" in 1985's "Krush Groove," ''If I Was Your Girlfriend" in 1996's "Striptease," and Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You" in 50 Cent's 2005 film "Get Rich or Die Tryin'."

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- AP


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