By the Way

‘Purple Rain’ returns to big screen in Gulfport on Friday


'Purple Rain' will show at area theaters after Prince's death last week.
'Purple Rain' will show at area theaters after Prince's death last week.

Prince will have the opportunity to once again reign as “king” of the box office as “Purple Rain” finds its way back to South Mississippi theaters beginning Friday.

The Cinemark 16 in Gulfport will show the 1984 film Friday through Sunday at 1 p.m. and again at 7:05 p.m. The Grand Cinema in D’Iberville will show it Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

The movie is being released to limited theaters around the country in honor of Prince, who died suddenly on Thursday, April 21.

When “Purple Rain” was released in 1984, it was more than just a movie, it was major event in my life.

The first time I remember seeing Prince was on a show on (W)TBS called “Night Tracks.” It was one of the first programs to mimic MTV, which showed nothing but music videos at the time, by showing continuous music videos for about eight hours on Friday and Saturday nights.

I had never seen people who looked like Prince and his band in the “1999” video. And the music was mind-blowing.

I jumped off the Prince deep end pretty quickly and bought “1999” on cassette. I also had a special “two for one” deal where I was able to get the albums “Dirty Mind” and “Controversy” on cassette. Ah, cassette tapes.

Although I was very familiar with Prince, nothing could have prepared me for the onslaught of all things “Purple Rain,” which is a movie, album and one of my favorite songs.

When “Purple Rain” the movie opened at the Elkin Theater in downtown Aberdeen, a small town near Tupelo, my friends and I went to see it on the Friday it opened, the following day and then again on Tuesday, which was “dollar movie night.” The theatre was actually sold out on dollar night, but we knew the manager and he let us stand in the balcony.

The movie has been criticized over the years for bad acting and stiff dialogue, etc. This means nothing to me.

Prince was the epitome of cool. Was he a great actor? I have no idea. He was Prince and he was lighting up the screen. Was Elvis a good actor? Who knows, but the comparisons are similar.

But “Purple Rain” was about the music. From the opening number of “Let’s Go Crazy” to the finale of “Purple Rain, “I Would Die For U” and “Baby I’m a Star,” the music was what mattered the most.

Plus you get to see The Time, led by the charismatic Morris Day. The Time perform a couple of numbers in the film, including “Jungle Love.” Which, by the way, was co-written by Prince, who also plays all of the instruments on the songs except for one guitar track.

Will “Purple Rain” fire up the box office and be, once again, one of the biggest hits of the summer? The answer is: no. But will die-hard fans embrace the opportunity to pay their respects and enjoy a moment in time on the big screen? The magic 8-ball says “Yes.”

Jeff Clark is a staff writer for the Sun Herald.

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