Albert Magnoli graduated from the Film School at the University of Southern California in 1981. While there he completed ten student films, culminating with his Thesis Film project Jazz (1979), which he wrote, produced, directed, and edited. Focusing on the lives of three Los Angeles jazz musicians, Jazz went on to win fifteen filmmaking awards in this country and abroad including a CINE Eagle Award, three FOCUS Awards and a Student Academy Award. The twenty-four minute film is listed in the 1983 edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica as “the most honored student film made in this country in the last twenty years.”
After graduation, Magnoli was asked to edit the MGM film, Reckless (1984), which was being directed by his former USC classmate, James Foley. While editing the film, rock star Prince and his manager, Robert Cavallo, came looking for a director to helm Prince’s feature film debut. Foley passed on the project, but suggested Magnoli. Prince and Cavallo screened Jazz and offered the project to him. Magnoli went to Prince’s hometown, Minneapolis, and sequestered himself in a hotel room for six weeks. There he researched and wrote the script for Purple Rain (1984).
As the director, writer, and editor Magnoli delivered Purple Rain to the theaters eleven months later. The Hollywood Reporter described Purple Rain as “sensational and highly visual - an accomplished and sophisticated example of storytelling.” Released by Warner Bros. in nine hundred theaters, Purple Rain topped the box office in its first weekend knocking Ghostbusters from the number one position. Purple Rain has grossed over $156 million dollars worldwide.
Magnoli followed with the Lorimar-Columbia feature, American Anthem (1986) and ghost-directed the critically acclaimed concert film, Sign 'O' The Times (1987) starring Prince. Magnoli then began a four-year association with Prince, culminating with Magnoli becoming Prince’s manager and handling his creative affairs. The soundtrack album for Batman (1989) was created during this union, and two #1 videos, Batdance and Partyman were directed by Magnoli to promote the Batman film and soundtrack.
Warner Bros. executive Mark Canton and producer Jon Peters then asked Magnoli to take over the directing reins from Andrei Konchalovsky on Tango & Cash (1989) starring Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell. The $65 million dollar film was behind schedule and over budget, and Magnoli was asked to begin shooting immediately. Four days later Magnoli arrived on the set, filmed for forty days, and delivered the picture to the studio in time for a Christmas release just two months later. Tango & Cash was a commercial success and has grossed over $186 million dollars worldwide.
Magnoli then directed Born to Run (1993) for Fox Television starring Richard Grieco. Filmed in just twenty-four days, the $3.4 million dollar film was critically acclaimed. The Hollywood Reporter stated “... this is mood TV, a highly stylized look at the racing culture that’s dark, fast, idealistic, and gritty. It’s great filmmaking, and a surprisingly impressive profile of the racing culture.” The Los Angeles Times wrote: “... who can resist a story like this? It’s apple pie and baseball, and more to the point, it’s sexy. The reason lies in the pristine direction of Albert Magnoli. This is movie heaven.”
Magnoli went on to direct Dark Planet (1997) a science fiction film for producers John Eyres and Barnet Bain and the Sci-Fi cable channel. Starring Paul Mercurio, Harley Jane Kozak, and Michael York, Dark Planet was shot in eighteen days with a budget of $800,000 dollars.
That same year, Magnoli directed Deliverance an episode of Nash Bridges (1997) for CBS.
He then wrote a slate of scripts for his production entity Dark Harbor Pictures:
Staked, Fetish, Primal Scream
Ghost Child, Savage, Falcon, 25 to Die
Eternity: The Wakening, Eternity 2: Heart of the Covenant
The Code Conspiracy, The Code Revelation, World Without End
The Don Aronow biopic, Cigarette
Black Sunday: The Story of Sausio 13
Albert Magnoli continues to write screenplays for Dark Harbor Pictures and work on various projects including: Captain Blood, Johnny Blackout, Vanished, and Heavy Shadows.
He is currently writing a Television Show titled Mob Bros. Inc.