On this day: March 29: 'Desperately Seeking Susan' movie (1985) 'Like A Prayer' album (1988)

Desperately Seeking Susan

 
March 29, 1985
The Desperately Seeking Susan movie is released in the USA.
 
Directed by Susan Seidelman
Produced by Sarah Pillsbury, Midge Sanford
Written by Leora Barish
Uncredited: Craig Bolotin
Starring: Rosanna Arquette, Aidan Quinn, Madonna, Robert Joy, Laurie Metcalf
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography: Edward Lachman
Editing by Andrew Mondshein
Studio: Orion Pictures
Distributed by: Orion Pictures
Release dates: March 29, 1985
Running time: 104 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $4.5 million
Box office: $27,398,584
 
Plot
 
Roberta (Rosanna Arquette) is an unfulfilled suburban housewife living in Fort Lee, New Jersey who is fascinated with a woman she only knows about by reading messages to and from her in the personals section of a New York City tabloid. This fascination reaches a peak when one such ad with the headline "Desperately Seeking Susan" proposes a rendezvous in Battery Park with the man who regularly seeks her. Roberta goes to Battery Park too, gets a glimpse of the woman (Madonna), and in a series of events involving mistaken identity, amnesia, and other farcical elements, Roberta goes from voyeur to participant in an Alice in Wonderland-style plot, ostensibly motivated by the search for a pair of stolen Egyptian earrings.
 
Awards and reviews
 
Rosanna Arquette won a BAFTA Award for her portrayal of Roberta; the fact that the award was for a "supporting role" reflected the surge in popularity that Madonna was experiencing at the time, since in terms of billing, number of scenes, lines of dialogue, and the plot, Arquette was actually the film's lead. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. Madonna also received positive reviews for her portrayal of Susan. In her review for the New Yorker, critic Pauline Kael praised Madonna's performance as "an indolent, trampy goddess."
The New York Times film critic Vincent Canby named the film as one of the 10 best films of 1985.
 
Soundtrack
 
Desperately Seeking Susan (soundtrack) features the original score for the film Desperately Seeking Susan with Madonna and Rosanna Arquette. The soundtrack was released on both vinyl and CD together with the soundtrack to the film Making Mr. Right. The soundtrack does not feature any of the other songs in the film including Madonna's "Into the Groove" which can be found on the European 1985 re-release of her Like a Virgin album. The film captures the feel of the underground Bohemian/New Wave scene of the early to mid-1980s New York City, a scene that in real life helped Madonna get her big break in the music business. Madonna recorded a song for the movie, titled "Desperately Seeking Susan". It ended up not being used in the film, and a demo she just finished at the time called "Into the Groove" was used instead. The demo version can only be heard in the movie. The song was a huge commercial success but was not included on the film's soundtrack, despite being heard in the film, due to licensing restrictions, which did involve Madonna's record label, that none of her songs was allowed to get mixed in with other artists. The music video for "Into the Groove" consists of clips from the film compiled by Doug Dowdle of Parallax Productions.
 
Track listing
 
Desperately Seeking Susan - Music composed by Thomas Newman
 
1. "Leave Atlantic City!"
2. "Port Authority by Night"
3. "New York City by Day"
4. "Through the Viewscope"
5. "St. Mark's Place"
6. "A Key and a Picture Of"
7. "Battery Park / Amnesia"
8. "Jail / Port Authority by Day"
9. "Rain"
10. "Running With Birds in Cages"
11. "Trouble Almost"
 
Making Mr. Right - Music composed and performed by Chaz Jankel
 
1. "Chemtech Promo Video"
2. "Ulysses' Escape"
3. "Night Visit"
4. "Frankie's Drive"
5. "Ulysses"
6. "In the Lab"
7. "Sondra and Jeff"
8. "Mr. Right"
9. "Wedding Reception"
10. "Parting Glance"
 
Songs that appear in the film but not on the released soundtrack:
 
"Into the Groove" – Madonna (Madonna, Stephen Bray)
"The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)" – Betty Everett (Rudy Clark)
"One Fine Day" – The Chiffons*
"Urgent" – Junior Walker (Mick Jones)
"You Belong to Me", – Carly Simon (Pee Wee King, Redd Stewart, Chilton Price)
"Lust For Life" – Iggy Pop
"Sucker M.C.'s" – Run–D.M.C.
"Mashed Potato Time" – Dee Dee Sharp
"One Thing Leads to Another" – The Fixx
"Respect" – Aretha Franklin (Otis Redding)
"Someday, Someway" – Marshall Crenshaw
There are two versions of the opening scene; one version opens with "The Shoop Shoop Song" and one version opens with "One Fine Day". "One Fine Day" was used for the European version where licensing restrictions prevented the use of the "Shoop Shoop Song" (as explained on the 1996 DVD commentary).
 
Production
 
The filmmakers had initially wanted Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn to play the roles of Roberta and Susan, but the director decided to cast newcomers Rosanna Arquette and Madonna instead and the studio wanted the film to have younger actors in order to appeal to younger filmgoers. Bruce Willis was up for the role of "Dez" and Melanie Griffith was up for the part of "Susan". Madonna barely beat out Ellen Barkin and Jennifer Jason Leigh for the part of Susan. Suzanne Vega also auditioned for the role of Susan, but was passed over.
The Statue of Liberty can be seen in the film when it was still covered in scaffolding during its two-year renovation. The DVD commentary track for the film (recorded in 1996) noted that after Madonna's first screen test, the producers asked her to take four weeks of acting lessons and get screen-tested again. Although the second screen test was not much of an improvement, the director still wanted her for the role, as much for her presence and sense of style as for anything else.
Costume designer Santo Loquasto designed Susan's pyramid jacket.
 
The film was inspired in part by the 1974 film, Céline et Julie vont en bateau (Céline and Julie Go Boating). The film also has an alternate ending included on the DVD, where Susan and Roberta are invited to Egypt after helping to return the earrings. They are depicted next to the pyramids on camels. The director cut this scene from the end saying that it was unnecessary and audiences at the test screenings thought the film should have already ended much earlier (as explained on the DVD). The 1964 science fiction film, The Time Travelers, is playing in scenes 6 and 23 (melts at the end of the movie). All the scenes featuring Dez (Aidan Quinn) working as a projectionist were filmed at Bleecker Street Cinema. The scene between Roberta and Gary in their kitchen show Roberta watching Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca.
 
The movie was filmed during the late summer and early fall in 1984, early in Madonna's rise to popularity, and was intended to be an R-rated feature. However, following the success of the singer's 1984–85 hits "Like a Virgin" and "Material Girl", the film was trimmed in content by Orion Pictures to get a PG-13 rating. in order to market the film to Madonna's teenage fan base.
The interior/exterior shots of The Magic Club were filmed in Harlem. Some of the scenes were filmed in Danceteria, a club that Madonna frequented and which gave her a start in the music business.
 
 
 

Like A Prayer

 
March 29, 1988
The Like A Prayer album is released in the USA.
 
Studio album by Madonna
Released: March 21, 1989
Recorded: September 1988 – January 1989 at D&D Recording, New York City, Ocean Way Recording, Hollywood, California
Length: 51:16
Label: Sire Warner Bros.
Producer: Madonna Patrick Leonard Stephen Bray Prince
 
Singles from Like a Prayer
 
"Like a Prayer"
Released: March 3, 1989
"Express Yourself"
Released: May 9, 1989
"Cherish"
Released: August 1, 1989
"Oh Father"
Released: October 24, 1989
"Dear Jessie"
Released: December 10, 1989
"Keep It Together"
Released: January 30, 1990
 
Like a Prayer is the fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Madonna, released on March 21, 1989 by Sire Records, three years after her previous studio album. Madonna worked with Stephen Bray, Patrick Leonard, and fellow icon Prince on the album while co-writing and co-producing all the songs. As Madonna's most introspective release at the time, Like a Prayer has been described as a confessional record. She described the album as a collection of songs "about my mother, my father, and bonds with my family." The album was dedicated to her mother, who died when Madonna was young.
The album uses live instrumentation and incorporates elements of dance, funk, gospel, and soul into a more general pop style. Madonna drew from her Catholic upbringing, as seen in the album's title track and lead single "Like a Prayer". The lyrics deal with themes from Madonna's childhood and adolescence, such as the death of her mother in "Promise to Try", the importance of family in "Keep It Together", and her relationship with her father in "Oh Father". Madonna also preaches female empowerment in "Express Yourself". Upon its release, Like a Prayer was mostly praised by music critics. Rolling Stone hailed it as "...as close to art as pop music gets."
Commercially, Like a Prayer became an international success like its predecessors, reaching the top of the charts in multiple territories. The album was certified quadruple platinum in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America. Six singles were released from the album: "Like a Prayer", "Express Yourself", "Cherish", "Oh Father", "Dear Jessie", and "Keep It Together". "Like a Prayer" became Madonna's seventh number-one on the Billboard Hot 100, while "Express Yourself" and "Cherish" peaked at number-two. Worldwide, the album has sold over 15 million copies.
With the singles' accompanying music videos, Madonna furthered her creativity and became known as a leading figure in the format. The music video for "Like a Prayer" was a lightning rod for religious controversy, using Catholic iconography such as stigmata and burning crosses, and a dream about making love to a saint, leading the Vatican to condemn the video and causing Pepsi to cancel Madonna's sponsorship contract. "Express Yourself" was the most expensive music video made up to that date. The album preceded Madonna's ground-breaking Blond Ambition World Tour. At the end of the 1980s, following the release of Like a Prayer, Madonna was named as the "Artist of the Decade" by media such as Billboard, MTV, and Musician magazine.
 
Background and development
 
Madonna worked on the album with Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard, who she collaborated with for 1986's True Blue. She also enlisted the help of fellow icon Prince for their duet on "Love Song". Madonna co-wrote and co-produced every song on the album. Recording began in September 1988 and continued until January 1989. Madonna and her husband Sean Penn filed for divorce in January 1989, following a nullified divorce filing in late 1987 and several well-publicized fights involving Penn, one of which led to a 60-day prison term. The incident inspired the song "Till Death Do Us Part", which details the failed marriage. Like a Prayer developed an introspective theme, utilizing confessional lyrics about personal issues. Madonna described the album as a collection of songs "about my mother, my father, and bonds with my family. ... It's taken a lot of guts to do this." It was claimed the album was her "most different" work to date.
Like a Prayer was dedicated to Madonna's mother, who died when Madonna was five. The songs "intertwine her search for faith with her search for her mother." Madonna's struggle with religion inspired the album. "The theme of Catholicism runs rampant through my album", she said. "It's me struggling with the mystery and magic that surrounds it. My own Catholicism is in constant upheaval." "The album is drawn from what I was going through when I was growing up", Madonna told Rolling Stone. She added, "I'm still growing up."

 

Packaging
 
The album was titled for the influence of Catholicism on Madonna's early life. The album cover has been seen as a reference to Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones. The packaging on the first pressings of the CD, cassette, and LP were scented with patchouli oils to simulate church incense. A publicist for Warner Bros. Records said, "She wanted to create a flavor of the 60's and the church. She wanted to create a sensual feeling you could hear and smell." The inlays included pictures of a brunette Madonna. The album also included an insert with safer sex guidelines and a warning about the dangers of AIDS, to which Madonna had lost friends.
 
Composition
 
'The album "teems with 60's and early 70's echoes – of the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and Sly and the Family Stone – all pumped up with a brash, if occasionally klutzy, 80's sense of showmanship." A press release said the album includes "a number of hot dance tracks" but noted, "much of the material ... is of a personal tone."
Madonna drew from her Catholic upbringing, as seen in the album's title track and lead single "Like a Prayer". She described it as "the song of a passionate young girl so in love with God that it is almost as though He were the male figure in her life. From around 8 to 12 years old, I had the same feelings. I really wanted to be a nun." The lyrics deals with themes from Madonna's childhood and adolescence, such as the death of her mother in "Promise to Try", the importance of family in "Keep It Together", and her relationship with her harsh father in "Oh Father". Madonna also preaches female empowerment in "Express Yourself", "in which Madonna expresses a 30-year-old's view of life unshadowed by rebellion and lingering lapsed Catholic pain." "Till Death Do Us Part" is about the violent dissolution of Madonna's marriage to Sean Penn. The song was described as "an anxious jumpy ballad that describes a marriage wracked with drinking, violent quarrels and a possessive, self-hating husband. Its ending finds the couple locked by their unbreakable marriage vows into a miserable cul-de-sac." Madonna noted that could have happened to her and Penn had they followed the Roman Catholic doctrine and not filed for divorce. "Dear Jessie" was inspired by Patrick Leonard's daughter. It was described as "a musical fantasia about pink elephants, lemonade and the land of make-believe, offers a stylish swatch of late Beatles-style psychedelia." The album also includes themes of love on "Cherish" and "Love Song", "a yowling come-hither duet" with Prince. "Spanish Eyes" is said to have "confronted the still-taboo issue of AIDS." Stephen Holden of The New York Times noted, "The songs, which deal directly and very emotionally with her failed marriage to the actor Sean Penn, her family, and her Catholic girlhood, transcend the brassy dance-pop of her three previous records to reveal Madonna as a vulnerable human being." Jon Pareles of the same publication mused that the album "is largely a meditation on male power and love, from paternalistic religion to parents to partners."
 
Commercial response
 
The album debuted at number eleven on the Billboard 200, and within three weeks was number one, where it would stay for over a month. The singles "Express Yourself" and "Cherish" both reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, while "Oh Father" was her least successful single since 1984, peaking at number twenty. "Keep It Together" reached number eight, and "Dear Jessie" became a hit single in Europe, with an animated video. After the advent of the Nielsen SoundScan era in 1991, the album sold a further 575,000 copies in the United States. The album was also very successful in Asia and Oceania. In Japan, Like a Prayer reached number one on the Oricon weekly albums chart and remained on the chart for 22 weeks. At the 1990 Japan Gold Disc Awards held by the Recording Industry Association of Japan, Madonna won three awards for "Artist of the Year", "Grand Prix Album of the Year"—which acknowledge the best-selling international artist and best-selling international album of the year, respectively—and "Best Album of the Year – Pops Solo". It also became her sixth platinum album in Hong Kong, the most for any international artist of the decade. Like a Prayer has sold over 15 million copies worldwide.
 
Singles
 
The title track "Like a Prayer", "whose lyrics could be about carnal or religious transcendence", was the first single to be released from the album in March 1989. Jim Farber of Entertainment Weekly said, "The gospel-infused title track demonstrates that her writing and performing had been raised to heavenly new heights." The song was featured in a television advertisement for soft drink manufacturer Pepsi, although the ads were canceled following the song's controversial music video. In the video, Madonna incorporated many Catholic symbols such as stigmata and burning crosses, and a dream about making love to a saint. Holden of The New York Times said the video "surpasses Madonna's earlier music videos in its heady swirl of sacred and profane images." The scandal led "Like a Prayer" to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Madonna's seventh U.S. number-one single. It also reached number one in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, among other countries.
The album's second single, "Express Yourself", is "an unabashed groove tune" which is "smart and sassy." Madonna preaches female empowerment, and advises girls not to settle for less than they are worth. It peaked at number two in the U.S. and was a top five hit worldwide. The music video was inspired by the classic Fritz Lang film Metropolis (1927). Its budget of $5 million made it the most expensive music video in history at the time it was made (it is currently the third most expensive of all time). It was followed by "Cherish", an adult contemporary hit which also peaked at number two on the Hot 100. The song "manages a nod to the Association song of the same title" and "makes savvy retro-rock references." The album's fourth single, "Oh Father", is "an homage to Simon & Garfunkel and tells the story of an abused child." The video, inspired by Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941), reunited Madonna with "Express Yourself" director David Fincher.
"Dear Jessie", which "boasts kaleidoscopic Sgt. Pepper-isms", was released in Australia, the United Kingdom, and some other European countries. "Keep It Together" is inspired by Sly and the Family Stone. It was the sixth and final single to be taken from the album. In Australia, it was released as an double A-side with "Vogue", resulting in a number one hit. (Wiki)
 
Track listing
 
1."Like a Prayer" Madonna, Patrick Leonard 5:39
2."Express Yourself" Madonna, Stephen Bray 4:39
3."Love Song" (with Prince) Madonna, Prince Rogers Nelson 4:52
4."Till Death Do Us Part" Madonna, Leonard 5:16
5."Promise to Try" Madonna, Leonard 3:36
6."Cherish" Madonna, Leonard 5:03
7."Dear Jessie" Madonna, Leonard 4:20
8."Oh Father" Madonna, Leonard 4:57
9."Keep It Together" Madonna, Bray 5:03
10."Spanish Eyes" Madonna, Leonard 5:15
11."Act of Contrition" Madonna, Leonard 2:19
 
Additional notes
"Spanish Eyes" was re-titled "Pray for Spanish Eyes" on certain editions of the album and also on the "Oh Father" single release in 1989.
 

 

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