Night Flight’s “Video Profile: The Cure” examines the band’s 1980s music videos directed by Tim Pope

By on August 15, 2016

In our “Video Profile: The Cure,” which originally aired on February 6, 1988, “Night Flight” examined the Cure’s musical video output up to that point — videos that were almost exclusively lensed by director Tim Pope — with “Radio 1990″ interview snippets with vocalist Robert Smith interspersed throughout. Watch it now at Night Flight Plus.

One of the highlights was actually not a Cure video, but a Siouxsie and the Banshees video — their cover of the Beatles’ song “Dear Prudence,” which was also directed by Pope.


Robert Smith, we think it’s fair to say, was somewhat obsessed with the Beatles, and many times over his career, with the Cure, and various side-projects, he was clearly inspired by the band’s music. In early interviews he attempted to draw comparisons to attempting to write songs for the Cure which were Beatlesque pop songs (he referred to both “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Friday I’m In Love” as being in the “old-fashion Beatles craft of the perfect pop song.”

Smith’s recording side-project released as The Glove — with bassist Steve Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees and vocalist Jeanette Landray — was also pretty obviously directly inspired by the Beatles’ psychedelic animated film Yellow Submarine.

The Glove’s Blue Sunshine album and its first single “Like an Animal” were both released in August 1983.


Just prior to The Glove’s recordings coming out, however, Smith had joined Siouxsie and the Banshees as a replacement guitarist for an extensive UK tour. The Cure had toured with the Banshees previously, and Smith had even toured with the Banshees in 1979.

Meanwhile, Souxsie Sioux had sung backing vocals on a Cure b-side, “I’m Cold,” and so the two bands had become friendly comrades (particularly Smith and Severin). They even shared the same A&R man at Polydor Records, Chris Parry, who was also the founder of Fiction Records, the Cure’s label.

When the Banshees started to have difficulties with guitarist John McGeogh two dates into a tour in the late autumn of 1982, it was only natural that they’d reach out to Smith again to come aboard and help out on guitar when McGeogh left in November.

That’s precisely what Smith did, for the next eighteen months.


Smith also continued to honor his commitments with the Cure during the same time, to the point of having some health problems and also suffering a near mental breakdown at the time.

He’d become increasingly disillusioned with the band by that point and felt they were creatively having a dry spell, and so there were rumors that the Cure were kaput, since it seemed Smith was pretty obviously a member of the Banshees.

When Smith was asked if he had joined the Banshees permanently, however, he replied, “I’m just the guitarist with The Banshees. There’s nothing formal, which is probably why it’s working. I get on well with Siouxsie, which is strange because I’m one the few who do.”


Before they released their next album, Smith wanted to record a track with the Banshees, to document the time he’d just spent with them, and the song he chose for Siouxie to sing was a cover of a favorite Beatles tune from 1968: “Dear Prudence.”


John Lennon had first thought of writing the tune sometime in February-March of 1968, when he and the other Beatles traveled to Rishikesh, India, to spend two weeks seeking spiritual enlightenment under the tutelage of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Actress Mia Farrow was there too, and had brought along her 20-year old sister Prudence Farrow, who was mainly focused on learned more about TM (transcendental meditation).

Apparently Prudence spent long periods of time away from the rest of those in attendance, in her room, and Lennon worried that she might be depressed.


Lennon, discussing the song in an interview with Playboy magazine — published posthumously in 1981, just a few months after his death — said that Farrow “wouldn’t come out of the little hut we were living in… We got her out of the house — she’d been locked in for three weeks and wouldn’t come out. She was trying to find God quicker than anyone else. That was the competition in Maharishi’s camp: who was going to get cosmic first.”

Lennon originally began sketching the ideas for the song based on his invitation to her that she should “come out to play” with the rest of them. He and George Harrison were asked by the rest of the group to help bring Prudence out of her room, but Farrow was intent on learning about TM because she wanted to know it well enough to be able to later teach the techniques.


“Dear Prudence” would later appear on the Beatles’ self-titled 1968 album commonly called The White Album because of its plain white jacket, and it would prove to be a very successful song some fifteen years later when Siouxsie and the Banshees recorded it for release on their own Wonderland Records label, one of their biggest hits, in fact, climbing to #3 on the U.K. Singles chart.


There’s no doubt that some of the song’s success can be traced back to the video, which shows the band — Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin, Budgie and Robert Smith — on the streets and waterways of Venice, with footage of the band playing psychedelically superimposed with the waterways footage, and filtered colorfully with what appears to be primitive early 80’s-style solarization effects.


Tim Pope had known at age seventeen that he wanted to be a film director. Pope — who grew up in the north London suburb of Enfield — had started off by taking Saturday morning film classes at Hornsey College of Art, and making his first film, Voyage, at the school, uising a 16mm Bolex camera.

A subsequent film, called Canine Excrement, was also lensed while at Hornsey, and Pope is said to have followed a dog round the then bombsites of Seven Sisters in London, waiting for the inevitable to happen (perhaps he was second-guessing or expecting the inevitable common reaction to many student films, which are often described as being “shit.”)


After moving on to film classes at Ravensbourne College of Art & Design, Pope began to focus on short movies with music soundtracks, making one film which was scored with Frank Zappa’s “I’m the Slime” (from Zappa’s album Overnight Sensation).

Eventually, by the time the early 80s had come around, Pope was able to focus on the making of music videos, and he ended up directing a lot of them.


His first unofficial music video was Soft Cell’s first video film for the Some Bizarre label, entitled Soft Cell’s: Non-Stop Exotic Video Show, a companion film to their debut album, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. It featured a notorious segment for the track “Sex Dwarf,” which featured real-life prostitutes, their pimp, a trainee doctor in leather jeans and a handful of maggots that Pope slipped in while filming the video, which caused quite a riot at the St. John’s Wood film studio location.

That video was later seized by the Porno Squad from Scotland Yard, who checked it out thoroughly before returning the tapes to the band after discovering that it wasn’t “obscene” material.


Pope would go on to direct videos for Altered Images, The Psychedelic Furs, Wham!, Visage and other artists, and along the way had earned a reputation as someone who might be game for anything, which is exactly the kind of creative partner Robert Smith was looking for, and knew Pope would accurately capture the band’s fun personality, not to mention their newly-found experimental aspects, instead of presenting them as a dour, gloomy goth rockers, as their previous videos had.


Tim Pope — or “Pap” as he would be known to the Cure, who loved to give everyone in their camp nicknames — would ultimately end up directing over 37 videos for the group, including some of their most famous songs, many of which are collected here in “Video Profile: The Cure,” including “Let’s Go To Bed” (shot in thirteen takes and released in 1982), “Close To Me”(1985), and “Just Like Heaven” (1987).


Tim Pope outside the Beverly Center, in Los Angeles, 1983

In 1983, Pope came to America for the first time — at Neil Young’s invitation —in order to film the video for Young’s song “Wonderin,” with Young becoming yet another creative partner (shooting additional videos for Neil Young until 1997).

Pope would end up directing a ton of music videos during the rest of the 80s and into the 90s (a partial list of the artists include Hall & Oates, Iggy Pop, Pretenders, Wendy & Lisa, David Bowie, Men Without Hats, Talk Talk and Paul Weller.

He also directed a short film, Phone — which starred Linda Blair ad Bill Pullman — and a handful of Crow sequels for Miramax, beginning with The Crow: City of Angels, as well as a number of documentaries and other projects.

A more complete list can, of course, be found at IMDB.

(Below: Tim Pope & Robert Smith)


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.