Madonna makes a lot more money out of record sales than she'll ever squeeze out of the movies, which ought to tell a Material Girl something, if a Material Girl was prepared to listen. But Maddie has an endearing habit of turning a deaf ear to the logic of the bank account when pop culture comes a'courtin'.

Let's face it, to be a star still means being a movie star and Madonna (right), child of Marlene, Marilyn and Hollywood Myth, knows this better than most. After all, it once looked as if she had cracked it first time out with Desperately Seeking Susan (well, second time out if you count A Certain Sacrifice). Then came the underrated Who's That Girl, Shanghai Surprise (why did Sean Penn want her to play a missionary?) and a Mae West turn in Dick Tracy (why did Warren Beatty want her to play a nympho bitch?) that could have been amused self-parody or pandering to public perception. Either way, it was playing it safe.

Body of Evidence was a mistake: Madonna trying to refute Sharon Stone's claim to top blonde, with a Basic Instinct rip-off. Big laugh line: 'That's what I do. I fuck.' The critics were merciless, despite signs that she was learning to act (in earlier outings she's usually just Madonna). Dangerous Game (see right) contains her best work to date - irony: she plays an actress - but who will notice? Or want to? Today it's so much easier to sneer and simply forget the fact that Madonna, despite everything, has never given a performance as awful as Whitney Houston's in The Bodyguard - and the public hypocritically ate that up.

(Photograph omitted)