For this year’s A-To-Z Challenge, my theme is MOVIES. I will be working my way through the alphabet during the month of April with movie titles and short blurbs about each movie. Today’s movie is “Xanadu.”
“Xanadu” is the only movie, of all 26 I will have highlighted in this series, that I’ve never seen. When it comes to movies, X is not an easy letter. Unless you go with one of the many “X-Men“ films or the movie that was based upon the TV show, “The X-Files,” there ain’t a whole lot to choose from. Anyway, let us proceed.
“Xanadu” was a 1980 American musical fantasy film written by Richard Christian Danus and Marc Reid Rubel, and directed by Robert Greenwald. It starred Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck, and Gene Kelly in his final film role.
“Xanadu” was a major box office disappointment, and earned scorching negative critical reviews. For example, when the movie first came out, film critic Roger Ebert wasn’t a fan. He said that, “‘Xanadu’ is a mushy and limp musical fantasy, so insubstantial it keeps evaporating before our eyes.” According to Wikipedia, the movie was an inspiration for the creation of the Golden Raspberry Awards to recognize the worst films of the year.
But where the film was a bust, the soundtrack album became a huge commercial success around the world. It was certified double platinum in the United States. The song “Magic” was a U.S. number one hit for Newton-John, and the title track (by Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra) reached number one in the United Kingdom and several other countries around the world.
Olivia Newton-John stars as Kira, one of the nine muses of Ancient Greece. Kira is sent to Earth (via an outdoor mural depicting the mythological sisters) to inspire Sonny Malone (Michael Beck). Sonny is a talented but discouraged freelance artist. Unable to make a go of it on his own, Sonny reluctantly returns to a record company, where he feels trapped painting album covers. Sonny cannot find enthusiasm for anything anymore, especially his work. But he became instantly attracted to Kira, an anonymous woman randomly photographed in the background of one of his assignments. Kira is also on the scene to motivate Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly), an aging, well-to-do entrepreneur who she might have possibly inspired decades ago when he was a Big Band musician. After his heart was broken, Danny hung up his clarinet and became comfortable managing his family’s construction business. With Kira’s help (and much dancing, singing, and roller-skating along the way), Sonny and Danny befriend one another and decide to partner up and construct “Xanadu,” a disco/roller-skating club.
Interestingly, the movie has apparently become a bit of a cult classic for the way it mixes the storyline from an old-fashioned 1940s fantasy with modern aesthetics featuring late 1970s and early 1980s rock and pop music on the soundtrack.