The new biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which stars Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, tells the story of the celebrated Queen singer and songwriter, who died on 24 November 1991. Mercury himself loved films, a passion that started at St Peter’s public school in India, where he loathed the games of cricket but loved the film-club nights where they showed John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier. Indeed, Freddie Mercury’s favourite films offer a revealing insight into the life of one of rock’s most theatrical frontmen.
Later, when he was a superstar, Mercury rarely slept more than four hours a night and used to stay up watching films. If ever he thought he was being too arrogant, he would say, “I’m starting to sound like Gloria Swanson,” the Hollywood star of Sunset Boulevard; one of his favourite male actors was the late Burt Reynolds.
Here is a guide to Freddie Mercury’s favourite films.
Shanghai Express (1932)
Like writer Ernest Hemingway, Freddie Mercury was a huge fan of Marlene Dietrich, and he particularly liked the film Shanghai Express, in which she delivers the memorable line: “It took more than one man to make me Shanghai Lily.” When photographer Mick Rock showed Mercury the iconic George Hurrell photograph of Dietrich, taken during filming, the band copied the pose for the shot that Rock took for the artwork of Queen II in 1974. (more…)