Classic films in music videos: “Express Yourself” by Madonna

This is September’s edition of Comet Over Hollywood’s film references in music videos.

metropolisMadonna has always mixed pop culture into her music and music videos- especially classic films:
-Frequently wearing clothing and bleached blond hairstyles reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe
-Paying homage to Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” number from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953) in her “Material Girl” music video.
-Listing several classic actresses in the lyrics of “Vogue” including Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis and Lana Turner.

Madonna’s 1989 music video for “Express Yourself” is no exception.

The music video pulls inspiration from the 1927 silent film “Metropolis.” Directed by Fritz Lang, the German Expressionist styled and futuristic film was a pioneer for the science fiction genre. In the film “Metropolis,” the futuristic city has a strong divide between the working class and the planners of the city.

Similarly in the music video, Madonna plays a glamorous lady with muscular men as her workers and she picks one of them to “express his self” with her. Futuristic like factories and skyscrapers with a German Expressionism tone are the backdrop.

A city scene from "Metropolis" and "Express Yourself."

A city scene from “Metropolis” and “Express Yourself.”

“All the imagery we wanted—and I had a few set ideas, for instance the cat and the idea of Metropolis,” Madonna said in an interview. “I definitely wanted to have that influence, that look on all the men—the workers, diligently, methodically working away.”

The music video ends with the phrase: “Without the Heart, there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind. This is a reference to a very similar quote from “Metropolis, “There can be no understanding between the hand and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator.”

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Classic film in music videos: Oh Father by Madonna

This is May’s edition of Comet Over Hollywood’s classic film references in movies.

Citizen Kane (1941) was named the greatest film of all time by the American Film Institute in 1998.

But prior to this, Madonna used themes from the Orson Welles film in her 1989 music video “Oh Father,” according to writer E. Ann Kaplan.

A scene similar to Citizen Kane in Madonna's video "Oh Father"

A scene similar to Citizen Kane in Madonna’s video “Oh Father”

The whole video is shot in black and white. At the beginning of the music video, a priest is looking out the window, watching a little girl spin and play in the snow. Inside, the little girl’s father is lying over her mother as she dies.

Madonna's video was modeled after his scene of Agnes Morehead as Mary Kane watching young Charles Foster Kane playing outside. (Screen capture by Comet Over Hollywood)

Madonna’s video was modeled after his scene of Agnes Morehead as Mary Kane watching young Charles Foster Kane playing outside. (Screen capture by Comet Over Hollywood)

The scene is similar to young Charles Foster Kane playing in the snow as his parents are inside, preparing to send him away with guardian to be raised in luxury. When Kane is taken away from his parents, he acts rebellious and is expelled from several universities.

The song and video were Madonna’s attempt to accept her mother’s death and her father remarrying.

“I had to deal with the loss of my mother and then had to deal with the guilt of her being gone and then I had to deal with the loss of my father when he married my stepmother. So I was just one angry abandoned girl. I’m still angry,” she is quoted as saying in a 2002 biography “Madonna: An Intimate Biography” by Randy Taraborelli. 

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Classic Movies in Music Videos: Give Me All Your Luvin’ by Madonna

This is August’s edition of Comet Over Hollywood’s classic film references in music videos.

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death on August 5, 1962.  Turner Classic Movies is dedicating today to Marilyn Monroe with a whole day of her film’s during their 10th annual Summer Under the Stars Salute.

As we all know, everyone and their mother has imitated Marilyn Monroe in some shape or form. Comet has even already spotlighted two music videos where Lana Del Rey and Madonna both paid tribute to the 1950s sex symbol.

Well 27 years after Madonna dressed up like Marilyn in “Material Girl,” the singer paid tribute to her again in her 2012 single “Give Me All Your Luvin’.”

But Madonna isn’t the only one in the video who donned short blond curls and a sexy white dress. Her two famous back-up singers in the song, MIA and Nicki Minaj also dress up like Monroe.

The Marilyn moment happens at 2:08 to 2:54 minutes into the video:

Check out other posts on Marilyn Monroe during the TCM Summer Under the Stars blogathon at http://scribehardonfilm.wordpress.com/ and http://sittinonabackyardfence.com/ for the month long classic film celebration!

Check back in September for another classic film reference in music videos!

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Classic film in music videos: Material Girl by Madonna

This is June’s edition of Comet Over Hollywood’s classic film references in music videos.

In honor of Marilyn Monroe’s 86th birthday on Friday, June 1,  Comet is spotlighting a Madonna’s 1985 music video “Material Girl.” I remember seeing this music video when I was little and loving the glamour, and Madonna’s wardrobe.

Madonna and Marilyn

It wasn’t until much later that I realized she was recreating Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” musical number from the 1953 film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

Madonna was a fan of Marilyn Monroe and wanted to pay homage to her in the music video:

“My favorite scene in all of Monroe’s movies is when she does that dance sequence for ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’. And when it came time to do the video for the song [Material Girl], I said, I can just redo that whole scene and it will be perfect,” Madonna said in 1987 to the New York Daily News.  “Marilyn was made into something not human in a way, and I can relate to that. Her sexuality was something everyone was obsessed with and that I can relate to. There were certain things about her vulnerability that I’m curious about and attracted to.”

Here are “Material Girl” (1985) and “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” for comparison:

Madonna-

Marilyn-

Notice the similarities in the red stage, the male dancer’s costumes and the pink dresses both women wear.

Trivia:
-When Marilyn is singing “No no no,” singer Marnie Nixon was dubbing her.
-You can see George Chakiris, who later won Best Supporting Actor for “West Side Story,” as a back-up singer.
-Jessica Pickens (me) is not a Marilyn Monroe fan.

Who hasn’t tried to look like Marilyn? Here is a link I came across with other actresses who dressed up as Marilyn Monroe. Pretty interesting, most of them are terrible.

My apologies for not having classic film references in April or May, guys.  McCrea in May contest winners will be announced soon!

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