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In 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted, John Lennon was killed, Zep broke up, the hostages were still in Iran, the worst disaster in British aviation happened and then there was the crap on wheels that is Xanadu.
Jackie picks one of the all time well known worst musicals of all time, 1980's Xanadu. Its part of the pantheon of terrible roller skating movies with Skatetown USA, Roller Boogie and Solar Babies. Does it stack up to the other three?
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About Xanadu - Movie Information
Sam's Boring Bullshit
I should start by saying that X is stupid letter. All of its sounds are accomplished by other letters.
In 1980, plenty of bad shit happens. Near as I can tell, from limited research, 1980 was the year of bad shit happening. In our last podcast we watched The Delta Force which touches on some of the bad shit that happened in 1980. The hosteges are still in Iran when this gem hits the screen. When you look up a year, the bad shit is generally more notable than the good shit, but 1980 is a long list of bad shit. The worst aviation disaster in the history of British aviation, and Mount St. Helens erupting are just the tip of the bad shit iceberg that was 1980.
In 1980 Pope John Paul visited Brazil. Then you know what happened? 7 people were crushed to death in the crowd. Jon Bonham died and Zep Broke up. Oh yeah, they shot John Lennon. 1980 was not a very good year…
All of you out there in podcast land should hit the 1980 Wikipedia page when you’re looking to get bummed out.
On short list of good shit that happens in 1980:
The release of The Empire Strikes Back. Pac Man Hits Japan. The Islanders win the Stanley Cup and in June the first 24 hour news network is launched, The Cable News Network. I will not yet add Xanadu to the list of good shit that happened in 1980.
In the middle of all of that, 1980 also gave us Shit on Wheels. Called it Xanadu but spelled it with a fucking X. It isn’t their fault it is really Samuel Taylor Coleridge who basicly changes the name Shangdu to Xanadu in his poem “Kubla Khan, or A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment”. If you take second semester British lit you will have to spend 2 class sessions on it and 15 years later you still won’t know why. Shangdu was the Summer Capital of the Mongol empire under Kubla Khan. Hearst Castle was called Xanadu for the purposes of the film Citizen Kane. Bill Gates’ house is called Xanadu 2.0.
Robert Greenwald (born August 28, 1943) is an American television, feature film and documentary filmmaker, and political activist. Greenwald is founder and president of Brave New Films (BNF). He has produced and/or directed more than 65 TV movies, miniseries and films as well as major theatrical releases.
What’s less than impressive is that his most notable list includes a film in 1980 titled Xanadu.
Produced by former Disney CEO Joel Silver.
The music, which is of course a eary important part of the film was done by Barry De Vorzon. He penned 2 number one singles; Just Married and Dreamin. He also co-wrote the Eagles song “In the City” with Joe Walsh for the classic budget film, "The Warriors".
Electric Light Orchestra contributes to the soundtrack to the tune of 7 songs. The songs were written for the movie. The Don Bluth (long time one man competition to Disney) animation was put in the movie to add one of the songs that they somehow missed.
Speaking of the Warriors Micheal Beck is also in this film We will see him again in 2 weeks when we watch megaforce.
Olivia Newton John has probably fallen on more than a few boners. She also had 5 number one hits. I think she is pretty. I don’t like anything she has done.
This is Gene Kelly’s final film appearance. A question I am going to ask now for the questions in the review is; do you think he would take it back?
Joe Mantegna got left on the cutting room floor.
Andy Gibb was the original choice for the character Sonny which instead is played by groan inducing, Michael Beck.
The film making team used a strategy of poor special effects to add an air of mysticism. It didn't work. They just look bad.
Olivia Newton John was injured during one of the dance numbers.
This was a bit of a snow ball. It started as a roller feature to answer Roller Boogie and Skate Town USA. As A-listers kept signing on, the producton kept getting larger and the budget swelled to $20 million from $4 million. One of the reasons the film is so confusing is that they just kept adding stuff with no reason other than we can now afford it and the story is greatly impacted by these decisions. Someone was able to contain the madness enough that the skates made it through to the finished product.
The Xanadu club is a 1 million dollar set.