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Prince’s Under The Cherry Moon

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At the Venus de Milo nightclub in Nice on the French Riviera, gigolo Christopher Tracy (Prince) raises a glass for a toast and plays piano for the patrons. A voiceover says he lived for money, entertaining rich women of all types, but died for just one woman after learning the true meaning of love. As he plays, a mysterious woman in white appears and sits at a specially placed chair to listen to him play. At a nearby table sits his partner Tricky (Jerome Benton), who has a server pass Christopher napkins with notes on how to win her over, and reminders that they need money. With suggestive eye contact and body language they silently size each other up until she sends over a drink for him and leaves a sizeable wad of money on the table as she leaves, confirming their assignation for the evening.

The following morning Christopher has discreetly left a note on the pillow of the woman in white and gone to a private hillside grotto where he keeps a piano and writes poetry and music. Back in Nice, he doles out money to some passing kids and helps a woman select flowers in the market before returning to his apartment. Tricky is making out with the landlady, Katy (Emmanuelle Sallet), who is demanding payment on two months of back rent under threat of turning them out on the streets. After joking and stalling, Christopher gives up a wallet full of money as he heads to their room for a bath. He tells Tricky that Mrs. Wellington (Francesca Annis), the woman in white, is divorced and worth three million dollars. The goal of getting rich through marriage is part of their profession of fleecing people, but Christopher wants a bigger payload. Tricky points out a newspaper headline that Mary Sharon (Kristin Scott Thomas), daughter of a billionaire shipping magnate, has just turned 21 and will receive a trust fund worth $50 million dollars. Christopher says he would consider marrying her for that amount of money. Mrs. Wellington calls and asks Christopher for some seductive poetry on the phone, so he slips into the bathtub and woos her, then laughs with Tricky after they hang up.

At the party for Mary Sharon, her father Isaac (Steven Berkoff) has pulled out all the stops, with circus animals and fire breathers, and a guest list of the richest folks on the Gold Coast, but he is absent from the event. A band of observers known as the Jaded Three (Victor Spinetti, Myriam Tadesse, Moune De Vivier) follow the circus parade through the grounds as they gossip about Isaac. Muriel Sharon (Alexandra Stewart) is waiting with the others for Mary, who suddenly shows up in nothing but a sheet, opens it for the assembled guests and asks if they like her birthday suit. She then takes over the drum kit, and the band joins her in an impromptu performance. She sees Christopher, who turns on the charm, but she is not impressed and goes to change into a gown for her party, asking her three friends (Pamela Ludwig, Barbara Stall, Karen Geerlings) to watch over the two party crashers.

When she returns her friends fill her in on Christopher, saying he made the rounds twice to check out all the women, and Tricky is also at work. Mrs. Wellington gives Mary a present. Tricky introduces himself and she blows him off as she heads to the fountain away from the crowd. She tosses the present behind her shoulder and Christopher catches it. She tries to put him off with rude retorts as he opens the box for her and finds a deck of tarot cards. When Mary realizes the appearance of Mrs. Wellington has set him on edge, she takes him over to introduce him to Muriel, who is talking with her. Muriel asks if he reads cards professionally, and he replies that he only does things for fun.

Tricky gets Mary to join his conga line with the other partygoers, but her friends pull her away to take a phone call from her fiancée Jonathan, who is in New York. After she puts his off-key birthday song on the speaker phone, she sees Christopher is in the room. They exchange insulting banter, and Jonathan overhears it, thinking she is talking to him. Annoyed, she ultimately hangs up on him. Christopher gives her a free pass to the Venus de Milo, but as he rejoins Tricky she orders the bouncers to throw them out. Mrs. Wellington is leaving the party so Christopher joins her. At her home the answering machine picks up a live call from Isaac, who says he will be back home in the morning, giving her and Christopher another night of fun. He plays piano during the message and misses that Isaac said he plans to visit at 7:00 the next night.

In the morning Mary has come up with a retort for a remark Christopher aimed at her before being ejected from the party, finally heads to the club and interrupts his playing to deliver it. He asks if she had worked all night to come up with the line. Chastened, she tells him Mrs. Wellington passed her word that she wants Christopher at her house at 7:00 that evening.

Tricky dances with Mary and treats her with politeness and respect, making her feel more comfortable. He says he wants a special woman to add new perspective in his life. She invites them to another venue called Le Pavilion to see if they blend into the finer side of life. Christopher cuts in and takes her onto the terrace. They dance and continue to exchange insults until it wears thin and they ask what each wants from the other. Christopher tries to entice her, but has to leave or he will be late to his date with Mrs. Wellington. Pulling up at her home with champagne and glasses, he sees an impressive car parked there. Sitting in the driver seat, he finds the license and sees the car belongs to Isaac. Realizing Mary is using him to get at her father and his own affair with Mrs. Wellington, he yells taunts at the house and pulls away, leaving the champagne behind as the two rush out in disheveled clothes.

As the pair dress for the evening, Christopher says Mary knows who she is but not what she wants, and Tricky thinks she will want to marry him instead. She is not accustomed to their way of life, however, and they mull over how to show it to her. At home Mary says she wants to joyride in the boat, and her father objects. She is testing her independence and they argue over the trust, which Isaac has modified to include the condition that Mary wed Jonathan. Christopher teases Tricky, saying Isaac and Muriel would not approve of their union and the police would arrest him, while he would sit by and deny he knows him. They stare each other down and Tricky breaks eye contact first, making Christopher laugh.

At the venue Tricky insists Mary likes him better and will dance to his tune, and Christopher gets an idea to bring her down to their world. Inside the restaurant Christopher taunts Mary that she is not familiar with the kind of life in their native Miami. He writes down the words “wrecka stow” on a napkin. They prod her to repeat the words loudly, but she cannot fathom the phrase. He and Tricky laugh raucously, and their behavior disturbs the patrons. Christopher finally asks Mary where one would go to buy a Sam Cooke album, and she realizes she is looking at a phonetic urban pronunciation for a record store.

The staff clear a space on the floor for dancing, and Tricky hauls a huge boom box to the stage to play their own music, which the patrons gamely dance to. The maître d’ has phoned Isaac, who shows up with his bodyguard Lou (Guy Cuevas) and his retinue. They break the boom box and put an end to the evening. Mary says she wanted to do something special for once, but when he says they are going home, she obediently follows him out. Isaac asks Lou to get information about Christopher and Tricky.

At the apartment, Tricky confesses that he likes Mary, but Christopher tells him to just keep handling the money in the partnership. Mary calls Christopher, unable to get to sleep, and vaguely suggests that she wants him, so he and Tricky proceed to the house and set up a ladder to a second floor balcony so Christopher can seduce her. He tells Tricky to whistle four times if they need to abort the mission, then enters the bedroom pretending to be a pizza delivery man. He whispers that he will take care of everything, and she replies in a strange voice that she takes medication to sleep. Outside, Tricky spots Mary, whose bedroom is actually on the third floor. He smiles and is about to leave his partner in the predicament when he spots men patrolling the grounds. Unable to whistle through a dry mouth, Tricky climbs the ladder and pitches stones at Christopher to distract him and tell him he is actually with Muriel, and they manage to escape. Isaac comes to bed, and a now seductive Muriel, warmed up by Christopher, takes control of her own satisfaction.

The next day Mary visits the two at their apartment and shows them a consolation gift of money from her father for missing her birthday party. They go on a shopping spree. Christopher buys a car from the Jaded Three to give to Mary, while she and Tricky buy pricey clothes and watches. Christopher whispers to her to meet him at the hippodrome after sunset before she goes off for more shopping with Tricky.

Later Christopher tells Tricky he wants to leave the business and become an honest man. At a small café they discuss the power of love, and Christopher feels that two people who truly loved each other could never be separated. Tricky tries to stress that they are engaged in business and need to get enough money to return to Miami before Isaac gets them. They do not see Lou watching them, and the place clears out quickly when Tricky sees bats on the ceiling. Later they dress for the evening, and Christopher says he will meet Tricky at the club in two hours, as he must do something before picking up Mary. He waits at the hippodrome for Mary, who drives up in her new car. They race, finally kiss and spend the evening together, and a furious Tricky leaves the club when he realizes he has been stood up.

In the car after they share a laugh, Christopher asks Mary why Isaac is so cruel. Still programmed by the class structure she has been raised on, she says he is considered a peasant. He makes remarks about their relationship compared to how she would act with Jonathan, she gets angry and tells him to shut up. He pretends to be indignant and says he is calling her father. He calls Mrs. Wellington from a nearby phone booth, knowing Isaac is there, and pretends to be Lou to speak with him. When he answers the phone, Christopher taunts Isaac by saying that he loves Mary and she will come around to loving him, threatening to tell Muriel if Isaac attempts to separate them. Mary cuts the call short and tells Christopher that her father has the chief of police in his pocket, but he says he can destroy Isaac, and they make out in the booth while Lou, in a concealed car nearby, keeps a watch on them.

The next morning Isaac yells at Mary when she finally arrives at home after being out all night. She ignores him until he grabs her arm and rants about how her marriage to Jonathan will increase the net worth for both families, and she realizes he is pawning her off to Jonathan in his greed for more money. At the apartment, Christopher comes home to a drunken Tricky, who yells at him for breaking all the rules they made in their partnership. Tricky says Christopher is jealous because he can steal Mary, and insults him. Christopher leaves to find Mary waiting at the front door for him, hoping they can get away for a while. He takes her in a small motorboat to the grotto, where they make love. Isaac calls Sam (Sam Karmann) to help him deal with the problem.

As they drive back to the club, Mary points out to Christopher that a limo sent by her father is following them. Tricky comes out of the bar, where Katy has been trying to smooth things over and curb his drinking, but Tricky brings up the first conversation Christopher had with him, in which he said he would consider marrying Mary for $50 million dollars. Feeling she has been used all along, Mary leaves in the limo. At home Mary confronts Muriel, saying she is hurt by the hypocrisy on which they raised her. Muriel tells her daughter she feels hurt as well. Mary wants to leave for New York immediately.

Christopher has entered the club and downed several drinks. An older woman, a former client, accosts him, saying she misses him. Realizing his lifestyle has gotten him nowhere, he runs off and winds up at Mrs. Wellingtons home. She hands him a check from Isaac for $100 thousand dollars to keep him away from Mary, but he writes a classic obscenity on it, hands it back and is ready to leave when she tells him Mary is leaving at midnight on the family plane for New York. As he pulls off, she wishes him good luck.

At the airport, Christopher pleads with Mary for five minutes so he can talk to her, determined to seal their love for each other. He drives away with her and parks the car so they can talk in private, while Isaac arrives at the airport and insists that Mary was abducted against her will. Mary says she does not know him anymore, so Christopher gets into the back seat and puts on dark sunglasses, saying nothing while she unloads her frustrations on him, at one point calling him a whore, which visibly affects him. When she says she hates him, he replies he loves her, and after some give and take, she realizes she does love him, and as they kiss he offers a chance to go away together forever.

Tricky returns to the apartment, rehearsing his speech to Christopher so they can mend their partnership, but finds Lou and the others there. They rough him up when he refuses to reveal where Christopher is, and knock him out. Isaac receives a call that investigators found the car Christopher drives parked at the harbor. Mary awakens in the grotto to find a poem Christopher has written about being an honest man, noting that, even in death, they would always be together. At the apartment Isaac calls Lou to send the men to the harbor, and Tricky comes to in time to escape with Katy.

Christopher meets up with Tricky at the harbor, and Tricky promises to be the best man if the wedding comes off. He and Katy deal with Lou and the men as they close in. Isaac arrives with the harbor patrol on the water, and Christopher heads out in the motorboat to get Mary. She races down from the grotto when she hears the commotion, and a marksman on the boat is told to shoot Christopher. Mary pleads with him to run away, but he gets off the boat onto the dock, saying he will not go without her, and a shot is fired. As a distraught Tricky falls to his knees in prayer, Mary goes to the dock and cradles Christopher, who smiles and dies in her arms. When Isaac arrives to take Mary home, she says she is going with Christopher and accompanies the patrol boat, leaving Isaac alone on the dock.

Time passes, and Tricky has returned to Miami in style, driving a Rolls Royce. He has become an apartment manager. Katy brings a letter that has arrived from Mary, who is now his investor. She has stayed single, and notes Christopher was right. She will come to Miami soon to visit, and says for Tricky to give Katy a hug for her. She is ready for her hug, but the tables have turned and a smiling Tricky reminds his tenant that her rent is late and he will throw her out onto the Miami streets. Though Christopher is gone, life will go on for his friends.

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