Xanadu starred Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly and attempted to blend the golden age of Hollywoods musicals with 80s New Wave, along with special-effects, mythological muses and rollerskating.
First released on August 8, 1980, it was critical flop and as legend has it, the film inspired the Razzie Awards, honoring the worst films of the year.
The plot of the Robert Greenwald-directed film goes like this;
A struggling artist named Sonny (played by Michael Beck) randomly meets Kira (Olivia Newton-John), a beautiful stranger on roller skates who turns out to be a Muse from Greek mythology. Sonny also meets Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly), a businessman who was once a musician from the 1940s big band era, and the two join forces in turning an abandoned space into a nightclub called ‘Xanadu.’ Kira and Sonny develop a romance that is threatened when her father Zeus forbids Kira from returning to Earth. Eventually love triumphs during the nightclub’s grand opening amid some singing, dancing and rollerskating.
Although, it’s not Grease-quality classic, but Xanadu does have some pretty good music by ELO (Electric Light Orcheststra), Kenny Ortega‘s great choreography and at the time, innovative special effects. And a sweet performance by Gene Kelly in what was his last picture.
Newton-John said about the movie in 2019.
“The music is great, I got to say. I think the music in Xanadu is fabulous.
And the dancing was great too because Kenny Ortega was the choreographer. He had street dancers and things in the film 30-40 years before their time, because that’s really become popular the last like 10 years and he had dancers doing those things then.”
The sound track by ELO went double platinum and did much better than the movie, with five of its singles making it onto the Billboard top 20.
Over the decades, however, Xanadu has attained cult status and even inspired a 2007 Broadway hit musical of the same name.