Under The Cherry Moon is a 1986 American musical drama film starring and directed by Prince and written by Becky Johnson (screenplay).
Filmed primarily in Studios de la Victorine in Nice, France and on location in the French Riviera, the film tells a story of a gigolo and his friend swindling women. But when Prince's character Christopher Tracy falls in love with the 21 year old heiress Mary, things get complicated.
The film had less than stellar reviews and reception and bombed in cinemas.
Following the huge success of Purple Rain and Prince becoming one of the biggest stars in the world he had pretty much carte-blanche when developing ideas for a new film and the studio green-lit the project without even having seen a script, expecting another success like Purple Rain.
With no experience as scriptwriter, Becky Johnson from New York was assigned to develop a screenplay. Despite her lack of experience Prince and the studio were willing to take a leap of faith based upon a test screenplay she wrote.
Prince wanted the film to be a romantic comedy with a 1930's vibe set in an exotic location like Palm Beach, Miami or Capri. The idea was then born to shoot the film in France and in mid-June 1985 Prince together with his manager Steve Fargnoli and tour manager Alan Leeds flew to France to scout locations and meet with potential cast. After visiting the French Riviera Prince decided he wanted to shoot the film there.
He wanted Jean-Baptiste Mondino to direct, but when he was unavailable video director May Lambert was recruited. German cinematographer Michael Ballhaus was hired as director of photography.
Originally Prince wanted Madonna to star as the female lead, but after she declined Susannah Melvoin, who by now was Prince's fiancée was considered. She did a test-reading, but it was decided that the role of Mary needed a more experienced actress. Ultimately young British actress Kristin Scott-Thomas was cast as female lead after auditioning for Prince in Paris. Terrance Stamp and Francesca Annis were cast as Mary's parents.
Prince wanted to shoot the film in black and white, but Warner was afraid it would not go down well with the audience if the film was in black and white, but since Prince was at the top of his fame he got his way.
Once shooting commenced in September 1985 the production was marred by problems. A few weeks into shooting Terrance Stamp retracted himself from the film saying: it was not the role he was led to believe. Steven Berkoff was quickly hired as his replacement. Prince and the crew were also unsatisfied by Mary Lambert's performance. She was fired and Prince, who was already co-directing many scenes helmed the directing of the film by himself.