On November 19 1993, the movie Dangerous Game premiered in New York City. Madonna shared top-billing with co-stars Harvey Keitel & James Russo in director Abel Ferrara’s gritty and experimental film about film-making. It was one of the first productions by Maverick Pictures, the film arm of Madonna’s multimedia company that was born in partnership with Warner Bros. the previous year. In some countries, the film was released under its original title, Snake Eyes, which could not be used in the U.S. due to a previous trademark on the name.
Given Maverick’s production involvement, it is perhaps unsurprising that the film’s credits include some names that should be familiar to many Madonna fans:
- Madonna’s longtime manager and founding partner in Maverick, Freddy DeMann, as executive producer
- Madonna’s assistant at the time, Missy Coggiola
- her frequent costume designer, Marlene Stewart
- her stylist, Hiram Ortiz–who not only styled her for the film but also appears as her stylist onscreen
- Madonna’s then-future manager, now the late Caresse Henry–at the time an assistant to DeMann
- songs by Maverick-signed music groups Proper Grounds & UNV
- Madonna’s eldest brother, Anthony Ciccone, as locations production assistant
Unhappy with Ferrara’s final cut of the film–which was reported to have been drastically altered from the movie that had been pitched to the actors–Madonna did not attend the premiere and, in Ferrara’s view, killed the movie’s shot at achieving wider distribution after badmouthing it in the press. Ironically, Ferrara noted, the reviews of Madonna’s strong performance in the film (which was certainly more natural, raw & vulnerable than any of her previous big-screen appearances) are among the best she had received as an actress at the time.
(Note: the clips used in the short preview above are from a low-resolution, compressed rip from DVD and do not represent the superior quality of the new high definition Blu-ray edition of the film.)
On September 9 1993, Dangerous Game (starring Madonna, Harvey Keitel and James Russo) premiered at the 50th annual Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy.
The director, Abel Ferrara had this about the film:
It was just another one of our films that never came out. But on that one, the audience didn’t really like the film. Madonna killed it. The first impression people get on a movie is the one that never gets out of their mind. So after Madonna got so trashed for doing Body of Evidence, she thought she was going to beat the critics to the punch and badmouth the film. And she actually got good reviews. She never got a good review from the Voice or The New York Times in her life, but she got good reviews for this movie, which she came out and trashed. I’ll never forgive her for it.