X is for Xanadu

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.

Previous A2Z 2022 posts: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

19 thoughts on “X is for Xanadu

  1. Carol anne April 28, 2022 / 6:15 am

    I’ve never seen it either! It looks like it would be good, though. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paula Light April 28, 2022 / 6:40 am

    I haven’t seen it, but it sounds kinda interesting…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. newepicauthor April 28, 2022 / 7:02 am

    I did the song Xanadu last year for A -Z. There is such a limited choice for words starting with an X.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. eschudel April 28, 2022 / 7:05 am

    Never saw it, not likely to, but good X choice!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marleen April 28, 2022 / 12:10 pm

    At least she (the actress) was partly responsible for bringing the acceptability of sport clothing, especially sneakers, to haute style — or dressy attire for regular people anyway. As well as the chic of exercising more and running around in leggings and so forth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen April 28, 2022 / 12:45 pm

      That hair you see in the photo for the movie was the shining-floatie hair of the late seventies.


      The song, Physical, was released in 1981. The movie — which I see as a precursor to Flashdance (1983) and Jennifer Lopez’s big hit music video (significantly later) — was made in 1982 to make the word/title more acceptable to radio stations across the country and world. (Dua Lipa, recently, has made a song by the same name and with the same central lyric with a very different presentation and acceptance.) I think “Let’s get physical” may have preceded Jane Fonda doing exercise videos, too.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Marleen April 28, 2022 / 3:45 pm

          Correction of autocorrect: … were …

          None that I saw “below” (above) within the link were my favorite bands. I didn’t tune in for Olivia much, either, but I had a neighbor who very much liked John Denver and Olivia Newton-John.

          It’s great Kelly was roller skating for the movie. And I’d say it was nice to have him dance again.

          Olivia Newton-John & Gene Kelly – Xanadu – Whenever you’re away from me

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Nope, Not Pam April 28, 2022 / 1:04 pm

    It’s quite popular here in Oz, but I’ve not seen it either

    Liked by 1 person

  7. leigha66 June 14, 2022 / 4:00 am

    The soundtrack to this one remains a favorite of mine. That and a chance to see Kelly dance makes it worth a watch, but it is a sappy predictable story.

    Liked by 1 person

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