Image from the motion. picture Shanghai Surprise Image from the motion. picture Shanghai Surprise

Shanghai Surprise - 35MM

Adventure, Comedy, Crime | 1986 | 97MIIN


Jim Goddard


Sean Penn
Paul Freeman

This notorious star vehicle for newlyweds Ms. Ciccone and Mr. Sean Penn was called by Rolling Stone “Madonna’s first flop.” Considered one of the worst movies of the 1980s, the film’s production was fraught with honeymoon drama, as the couple sparred with director Jim Goddard, producer George Harrison, the press… and each other. Louis Virtel, writing in Movieline in 2011, said that the now never-shown Shanghai Surprise is “downright loveable for capturing exactly a time in 1986 when two celebrity supernovas married, agreed to a ‘vanity’ project where Madonna could exercise her Dietrich fetish, and aired their stilted chemistry for box-office returns… It is avant-garde tabloid drama.” Is Shanghai Surprise now ripe for reappraisal by the Material Girl’s biggest fans?? You tell us!   

Video: MATERIAL GIRL (Mary Lambert, 1985)

Her first major reinvention–and overt nod to matinee idols of an earlier era–drapes Madonna in a repro of Marilyn Monroe’s cotton candy, bow-tied gown, gliding down a palatial staircase: a carbon copy of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” from Howard Hawks’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. An ironic, postmodern comment on the 1980s infatuation with wealth and stature, “Material Girl” unintentionally conjured the nickname for which Madonna would be best known (“Boy Toy” was – by then – so passé).

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