Most Important Black Films #22 – Purple Rain


Oh yes!  This one was on and off the list a few times, but in the end it made the cut.  Even though I’m known to be more of a Michael Jackson in his prime fan, Purple Rain still played a very important role in my childhood.  How you ask?  Read on…

Relevance:  Prince and the Revolution vs Morris Day and the Time.  And I understand there were a few songs from this film that still get into the rotation on black radio from time to time…

Legacy:  Again, I’m judging primarily the film, not the album.  I’m tempted to say the film didn’t give us much that’s stood the test of time, until Dave Chappelle and Charlie Murphy opened their mouths.  “Why don’t you purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka?”  Yes, I’m laughing as I type this…

Craft:  Well, there were two professional actors in Purple Rain (Prince’s parents), and um, it kinda shows.  It’s a definitive 80s movie though, and by all accounts the point of the film was to highlight the talents of Prince, so, high marks for that.

Crossover: Was Prince already an accomplshed musician with hit songs?  Yes of course.  Did Purple Rain take his stature to the next level, permanently?  I would say so.  Fun tidbit I was too young to remember: Prince won the Best Original Song Oscar for Purple Rain.  That’s right folks, on top of everything else, Prince is an Academy Award winner.  Wow.

Apollo: They’ve taken Prince’s Dad away in the ambulance.  It’s dead silent in the Revolution’s dressing room.  It looks like it’s all over.  And right at that rock bottom moment, Morris Day sticks his head in the doorway and says “How’s the family?”  Oh man.  I still get upset just thinking about the Time laughing their way down the hallway!  Even when they cut to Morris and Jerome cheering during Prince’s encore at the end, I was still pissed off!  I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 at the time, but I know my lifelong distrust of light skinned brothas AND pretty boys started right at that moment (Prince aside of course).  And if you’re a light skinned pretty boy, I’m just telling you right now you got an uphill battle with me, player!

Alright, I’ve gotten that off my chest.  Another classic ‘player’ movie comes in at #21.  Come back in a couple weeks for that one.

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