FILMS… Xanadu (1980)



A Musing Adventures with Rollerskating…


A muse comes to earth via a mural and inspires a roller disco but falls in love.


Xanadu – Trailer, Universal Pictures,  Pictures © Universal Pictures 1980


Today a review on another musical, this time from the 1980s. This film wasted both the singing talent of Olivia Neutron Bomb Newton John and ELO and the dancing talents of Gene Kelly. Both Newton John and Kelly starring in this fantasy musical dance extravaganza. The film is Xanadu (1980) and was Newton John’s third musical and sadly Gene Kelly’s last film appearance.

Sadly poor Gene never had the chance to redeem himself on the big screen with this his final film. The film probably increased the sale of roller skates, and in turn, inspired roller discos, and in turn Andrew Lloyd Webber for Starlight Express. Er, thanks. But despite all this, it is a guilty pleasure. On the bright side, the film inspired the Golden Raspberry Awards, with the film winning in the first 1980 ceremony.

The film was an accidental viewing for me, after being a Grease (1978) fan – had the album, book and bag (which Santa must have commissioned especially for me) – and loving Newton John’s ballads Sam and If Not For You. Most Some men do admit to liking her too but have a feeling it was purely Physical.

After seeing the film, I bought the Xanadu soundtrack and for years wondered why this wasn’t reshown on the telly as I had been keen to watch it again. So I was happy to find it going for the daft price of about 3 British pounds on video – showing how long ago this was – and snapped it up. Only regretting this when the plot sunk in years later with a more cynical me later wondering how the f∗∗∗ did this pass the pitching stage on the rewatch. But then many stranger ideas have been made into a film.

The story tells of a mural depicting the Greek God Zeus’s daughters including Terpsichore, using the pseudonym, Kira (Newton John) which comes to life. The mural is a bit reminiscent of those awful fairground rides paintings which depict well-known celebrities looking more like they’ve been painted by an artist painting from memory. This memory is after he’s forgotten what they look like and is really based on a description by a pathological liar.

The muses then rollerskate all over the place to an ELO tune and Kira kisses Sonny (Michael Beck) en route. Sonny paints equally dodgy pictures for album covers for a living and duly paints Kira for an album cover. As you do. He then hopes to find her again (aw).

Sonny then meets Danny (Gene Kelly) on the beach outside the building where he met Kira. Danny was a bandleader who lost his muse (also Newton John) in the 1940s. Cue song, flashback and a wee chance for Kelly to tap dance. Danny and Sonny become friends and open a nightclub at this building, an abandoned auditorium. Kira remeets Sonny and Danny and encourages this idea, and Sonny and her fall in love… and the rest is on the DVD. Sorry if this frustrates you.

My frustrations with this film however are three-fold. Firstly, despite the fact Kira is the double of Danny’s girl, Danny seems to have forgotten this.. so much for remembering the muse who inspired him. It turns out that as she is a muse she isn’t allowed to fall in love, which might explain it. Or maybe she’s just a tease.

Secondly, why didn’t Danny open his nightclub earlier as roller skates were invented and patented in the 18th century? Also reading up Wikipedia, if he had wanted to open a roller disco then he would have the full backing of The Roller Skating Rink Operators Association who encouraged the public in the use of roller skates. And thirdly, and most importantly did Gene Kelly really need the money? Could he not have done an earlier episode of The Love Boat (1977–1987)?

And why bother changing her name. Finally, as an afterthought, we don’t know what happened with her sisters on the fateful day she met Sonny. But we should be grateful we didn’t have the now agony prolonged by making this the first of 9 films each concentrating on each one of them. But there is one more, more traumatic thought, that the part of Sonny was also offered to her Grease co-star John Travolta. But luckily for us, he declined the role as fast as Greased Lightening.

Weeper Rating😦 : 😦 😦😦 😦 😦 😦 :-(/10

Handsqueeze Rating:  🙂 🙂  🙂🙂 /10

Hulk Rating: ‎ ‎ mrgreen  ‎/10


The Movie Confessions Blogathon 2017, No 16

This review was added as part of the Movie Confessions Blogathon run by Often Off Topic. Other reviews with this cast include Olivia Newton John also stars in Grease. Wilfrid Hyde-White starred in My Fair Lady. Michael Beck starred in Murder She Wrote. Gene Kelly starred in Singing in the RainThe Love Boat and Summer Stock.




44 thoughts on “FILMS… Xanadu (1980)

  1. I’ve never watched this one but I always love the music video when it happens to show on one of the music channels. Can’t remember the song off-hand (sorry…cringe). Always want to watch the whole movie though…maybe I should.

    Liked by 1 person

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