Desperately seeking screen stardom ...not always successfully
While Madonna has never enjoyed the same sort of success in the cinema as she has in the recording studio (the comically awful
Swept Away in 2002, directed by then husband Guy Ritchie, won her an unprecedented fifth Golden Raspberry award for Worst Actress), she does have a small body of film work of which she can be quietly proud. The crowning glory has to be her starring role in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical,
Evita (1996), directed by Alan Parker, for which she won a Golden Globe. There’s more quality elsewhere. I love the postpunk, spirit-of-New-York thing she brings to Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), and her willingness to muck in with a classy ensemble cast (Tom Hanks, Geena Davis) in the underrated baseball movie A League Of Their Own (1992). Then there was the time she saw off competition from Sharon Stone, Kim Basinger and Michelle
Pfeiffer to play Breathless Mahoney in Dick Tracy (1990), with Warren Beatty playing the police detective, and directing too. It was nominated for seven Oscars, won three and co-starred Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman. Classy company for a pop singer, but she looked great and held her own.
One exchange lingers particularly in the memory, as Dick and Breathless meet in her dressing room at a New York dive after the murder of the gangster Lips Manlis.
‘No grief for Lips?’ growls Beatty.
‘I’m wearing black underwear,’ purrs Madonna.
‘You know it’s legal for me to take you down to the station and sweat it out of you under the lights...’
Pause. ‘I sweat a lot better in the dark.’
They don’t write lines like that any more – which is probably a good thing – but I’m glad they once did, and I’m quietly glad Madonna was around to deliver them.
ON SONG: Evita (1996)
COMMOTION: Who’s That Girl? (1987)