For the promo video to accompany the ‘Never Let Me Down’ single, Bowie recruited French director Jean-Baptiste Mondino.
Mondino had made his name in 1985 with Don Henley’s ‘The Boys Of Summer’ and Sting’s ‘Russians’, and would later direct Madonna’s controversial ‘Justify My Love’.
Of the video, Bowie said it’s “an experiment; I’m really putting myself in his [Jean-Baptiste’s] hands. … I think if I did it [the video myself], it would be very abrasive, and I’m not quite sure if that’s how I want the song to come off visually. In concert it will be abrasive; it won’t have the sane quality as the video. But I really think Mondino is a fantastic video maker. He just knows that this is his genre. He’s like a craftsman and that’s what he’s trying to perfect, this craft of making his five minutes work.”
Years ahead of its time (Bowie later noted that “it has a very sort of nineties look to it”), Mondino’s video beautifully captures the song’s dreamlike quality, with sepia-tinted shots of sleepy couples at an American “dance marathon” straight from Sydney Pollack’s 1969 melodrama They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?.
The video was reviewed positively by one critic, who called it “creative and engaging.” A review in the Los Angeles Times scores the video “excellent (85/100)” and the newspaper later rated the video as one of the Top 10 of 1987.
Actor Joe Dallesandro appears in the video as the dance marathon announcer. His spoken preamble(“Put on your red shoes and dance to your heartbeat!”) harks back to an earlier hit.
The song’s 7″ picture disc cover shot is a still from the music video.