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It's back...Xanadu on DVD!
June 21, 2008 - Ron Flaviano
Many moons ago, Olivia Newton-John decided to follow up her "Grease" film role in another musical "Xanadu". Paired with Michael Beck (of "The Warriors") and screen legend Gene Kelly, Olivia made what many called one of the worst films ever made.
Basically, Olivia stars as one of the nine muses from mythology. She arrives on earth to inspire Sonny Malone (Michael Beck) to follow his dream and open a roller disco. Along the way Sonny meets Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly) who bankrolls the massive project and was also once smitten by the same muse (Olivia.) In the midst of all of this are some spectacular musical numbers, a bevy of 80s special effects, a Don Bluth animation sequence, and some of the most bizarre costumes ever seen. It's definitely a slice of early 80's pop-culture...as the world of music was moving from the disco scene into new-wave.
It's not really that bad... The plot and dialogue are pretty hard to believe...but throw them out, and you've got a lot of fun. "Xanadu" was the last time that Gene Kelly would dance on film. In addition to twinkling his toes with Olivia, Kelly also shows off some superb roller skating skills in the finale.
The soundtrack was an amazing success, boasting 5 top-10 hits..."Magic", "I'm Alive", "All Over The World", "Suddenly" and "Xanadu". Not only was Olivia Newton-John featured on the soundtrack, the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) shared top billing.
Even though it was panned by critics and much maligned over the years, "Xanadu" has devoloped a huge cult following. The film was recently rewritten as a Broadway musical and become a giant success.
If you take a look at some of the other musicals released during the same period ("Roller Boogie", "Can't Stop The Music", "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", "The Apple" and "The Wiz") which were all pretty awful, "Xanadu" really shines. If you've never seen it...it's worth a look - you might be surprised.
Although the 1980 film "Xanadu" was released on DVD by MCA/Universal back in 1999, it sees another release this week. "Xanadu - The Magical Musical Edition" arrives on store shelves this Tuesday, June 24th.
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New DVD cover for "Xanadu".