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Monday, 20 August 2012

Xanadu (1980) - Star of the month... Gene Kelly

"Xanadu, your neon lights will shine for you Xanadu..." - Olivia Newton-John (as Kira in 'Xanadu')

'Xanadu' is a 1980 romantic fantasy musical directed by Robert Greenwald and starring Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly and Michael Beck.

The film was written by Richard Christian Danus and Marc Reid Rubel and features an animation sequence by Don Bluth.
Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly & Michael Beck

Sonny Malone (played by Beck) is an album cover artist, on the verge of giving up on his dream of becoming a great artist. Kira (played by Newton-John) is a Greek muse, who has emerged from out of mural to inspire Sonny to follow his dream. Along the way, Sonny befriends a former big band orchestra leader, Danny McGuire (played by Kelly). Kira encourages Danny and Sonny to form a partnership and open a new nightclub, Xanadu.

Movie soundtrack

The music soundtrack features music from Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, Electric Light Orchestram Cliff Richard and The Tubes.  The soundtrack was a big success, being certified Double Platinum in the US (peaking at #4) and Gold in the UK (peaking at #2).

Musical program
Gene Kelly & Olivia Newton-John sing
'Whenever Your Away From Me'

  • "Overture Medley (Whenever You're Away From Me/Xanadu)"
  • "I'm Alive" - Electric Light Orchestra
  • "Magic" - Olivia Newton-John
  • "You Made Me Love You" - Olivia Newton-John
  • "Whenever You're Away From Me" - Olivia Newton-John & Gene Kelly
  • "Suddenly" - Olivia Newton-John & Cliff Richard
  • "Dancin'" -  Olivia Newton-John & The Tubes
  • "Don't Walk Away" - Electric Light Orchestra
  • "All Over The World" - Electric Light Orchestra
  • "The Fall" - Electric Light Orchestra
  • "Suspended in Time" - Olivia Newton-John
  • "Drum Dreams" - Electric Light Orchestra
  • "Xanadu" - Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light Orchestra
  • "Fool Country" - Olivia Newton-John
  • "Magic" (Reprise) - Olivia Newton-John
  • "Xanadu" (End Credits) - Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light Orchestra

Song: "Whenever You're Away From Me" - Olivia Newton-John & Gene Kelly

Song: "I'm Alive" - Electric Light Orchestra

Did you know...

  • This was sadly Gene Kelly's final film appearance
  • Gene Kelly also played the role of Danny McGuire in 'Cover Girl' (1944), with Rita Hayworth
  • Gene Kelly agreed to appear in the film as filming was a short drive from his Beverly Hills home, and he could be close to his family
  • Xanadu was the summer capital of Kublai Khan's Yuan Dynasty in China
  • The film's plot was inspired by the 1947 film 'Down to Earth'
  • A stage musical based on the film opened on Broadway in 2007
  • Andy Gibb was originally considered for the role of Sonny
  • Joe Mantegna appeared in a few scenes which were cut from the film
  • The song "Whenever You're Away From Me" was the last sequence filmed for the film
  • The film was originally conceived as a low-budget roller disco picture, however evolved into a much larger production, as well known stars Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly appeared
  • The exterior of Xanadu was filmed at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium
  • The set of the Xanadu clubbed cost $1,000,000 to build
  • In earlier versions of the story, Sonny was the artist who designed the mural, from which the muses emerge
  • Olivia Newton-John fractured her coccyx while filming the song 'Suddenly'
  • Michael Beck's singing is dubbed by Cliff Richard
  • Sandahl Bergman appears as a Muse
  • Wilfrid Hyde-White appears as Heavenly Voice #2
The Pan-Pacific Auditorium transforms into Xanadu

Awards and nominations

  • Ivor Novello Award winner for Best Motion Picture Film Soundtrack
  • Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Female Vocal Performance ("Magic")
  • Young Artist Awards nomination for Best Major Motion Picture - Family Entertainment
  • Raspberry Award winner for Worst Director
  • Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Picture
  • Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Screenplay
  • Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actor (Michael Beck)
  • Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actress (Olivia Newton-John)
  • Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Original Song ("Suspended in Time")
  • Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Musical of Our First 25 Years

Closing remarks

'Xanadu' is a truly awful film, but I love it. It is always a lot of fun to watch. 
We are fortunately able to see Gene Kelly sing and dance in a film one last time, and at the age of 67 he shows the world he's still got it.

The film opened to bad reviews, one of which was headed "Xana-don't!". It was a commercial bomb and failed to break even on it's original release. Surprisingly over the years it has acheived something of a cult status, and is still remembered and enjoyed for the awful yet entertaining piece of trash it is.

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