Sean Penn

Friday Video: Live To Tell

I thought about posting a video in honor of W's 61st birthday. The Smiths did a song called "Unhappy Birthday." and the first few lines apply to W ("you're evil and you lie"). But the song is sung from the perspective of a lover who commits suicide.

So I wanted something dark and beautiful. And then I remembered hearing a Madonna song in the distance while waiting for the fireworks in New York harbor. The song was La Isla Bonita, from the album True Blue. That reminded me of the best song on the album, Live to Tell.

You might recall that True Blue was dedicated to Sean Penn, who is described in the liner notes as, "the coolest guy in the universe." The single, Live to Tell, was the theme to the film At Close Range, which starred Sean Penn, Chris Penn, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Christopher Walken. It was directed by James Foley, whos other great accomplishment was the movie version of Glengarry Glen Ross (accompanied by the same DP and editor, which counts for a lot.

If The Falcon and the Snowman didn't turn Sean Penn into an A-list actor, then At Close Range surely did. It was also a very dark film. I mean dark; darker than Sopranos. It told the semi-true story of a crime family in rural Chester County, Pennsylvania. Christopher Walken is a believable psychopath who murders one of his own sons and his other son's girlfriend. In a decade where dark films were rare, At Close Range and Blue Velvet stood-out as the darkest mainstream dramas of 1986. That was a year in which Reagan's popularity was at its peak, and there was some national unity over the Challenger disaster as well as our skirmishes with Libya (recall that the top-grossing movie of 1986 was Top Gun).

So here is a well-mastered video that shows key clips of the film accompanied by Madonna's song. Some graphic violence and spoilers in this one:

And here is the original music video from 1986. This is is one of Madonna's greatest songs, in my opinion. You know...along with Open Your Heart, Rain, Take a Bow, Deeper & Deeper, Express Yourself, and Frozen. Oh yeah.