Old School 4 Life‘s Today’s Memory
Premiere of movie Xanadu
Originally shared by Old School 4 Life™
On this day:
At 8th August of 1980, the movie „Xanadu” was released.
If you conduct an on-line search for the word „Xanadu,” you will get an amazing array of responses. It’s the „Original Hypertex Project.” It’s a language and translation wizard. It’s a swingers club in Manchester. It’s an undersea adventure company. It’s Charles Foster Kane’s fortress. It’s Kubla Khan’s pleasure dome. And it’s a 1980 film starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly.
The movie was intended to catapult Olivia Newton-John onto the A-list and give Kelly a chance to strut his stuff for a new generation. Instead, it ended up pretty much finishing both of their acting careers. Kelly never made another feature film (by choice – after Xanadu, he only appeared in a couple of TV mini-series), and Olivia Newton-John went back to music. Within a year, she would release the smash, multi-platinum album, „Physical.”
„Xanadu”, directed by Robert Greenwald from a screenplay by Richard Christian Danus and Marc Reid Rubel, is an attempt to bring the spirit of the old 1930’s and ’40’s Universal musicals to 1980’s audiences. The story revolves around a record album cover painter (remember records ?), Sonny Malone (Micheal Beck), who has a dream of freely creating art, out of the confines of business.
Along the way, Sonny meets Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly), a former 1940’s big band member who has lost his dream. Danny now sits on the beach playing his clarinet, missing his past. And sent from Greek mythology to help their dreams along is one of the nine daughters of Zeus, a muse named Kira (Olivia Newton-John) who inadvertently falls in love with Sonny while attempting to accomplish her mission.
With more than a little help from Kira, the two become partners and the result of their efforts is „Xanadu,” the hottest night spot in the Beverly Hills area. But there’s trouble ahead for Sonny and Kira. Zeus wants his daughter home, and he’s not happy that she developed feelings for a mortal. He’s also probably a little cranky because Mount Olympus has gone all neon.
‘Xanadu’ cannot be watched with anything resembling a serious mindset. Enjoy it for its garishness. Enjoy it for its silliness. Enjoy it for the soundtrack (the product of John Farrar and ELO). This is, after all, a musical, and the stench of ripe cheese can be set aside if it offers pleasure to the palate. The soundtrack soared. Of its ten tracks, two („Magic” and „Xanadu”) were hits. Two more („Suddenly” and „Don’t Walk Away”) got significant airplay.
But, most of all, enjoy it for Olivia Newton-John. She may not be the greatest actress of her generation, but she’s gorgeous, and she has a great singing voice. She was at the peak of her career in 1980.
Then there’s the late Gene Kelly. Some long-time fans have lamented that this represents Kelly’s farewell to feature films, but the venerable song-and-dance man „got” the movie. It was a throwback to his bread-and-butter – an attempt to re-create ’50s musicals in the early ’80s (a marriage between disco and retro). It gave Kelly an opportunity to do what he was best at, even at age 68. And, believe or not, we get to see Kelly on skates. A 1940’s style dance number performed by Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly is wonderful and pays homage to „the golden age of musicals”.
35 years since its 1980 release, ‘Xanadu’ has developed a cult following and has made more than twice the amount of money on home video that it captured at the box office. The film is often referred to as a flop, but that’s not entirely accurate. While it’s true that it didn’t make back its $20 million budget on the big screen, the numbers aren’t as bad as some think them to be. For example, during its opening weekend, it made $1.5 million. That’s not a lot, but converting it to a modern day opening, it looks better.
„Xanadu” is an interesting film. There is underlying greatness here that seems to want to escape the film’s faults but never does. It was a big budget experiment that didn’t quite succeed, but has a goofy charm all it’s own.