Combine Greek mythology, roller skates, disco, and Gene Kelly in a movie and what do you get? Xanadu!
The movie includes five songs written and performed by ELO. In one of his few public comments on the film, Jeff Lynne (founder and lead singer of ELO) complained to Rolling Stone, “I wrote half the songs, though I’ve never seen the thing. I don’t suppose anybody else has, either. It was supposed to be really bad. I don’t think I’ll ever see the movie after reading the reviews.”
[Side note: I have a hard time imagining an artist putting their creative energy into a project for months, getting paid for the project, and then lacking any desire over the next 30+ years to see the end-product. You mean to tell me not one person in Lynne’s circle has ever said, “Hey Jeff, you look a little down. Why don’t we watch that crazy film Xanadu?” You only hear artists say this about their dud projects. But I still love your music, Jeff. Keep up the good work.]
Here are some items of note about Xanadu:
♠ It was Gene Kelly’s final movie. He achieved every actor’s dream by going out on top.
♣ Mel Gibson, a little-known actor at the time, was Olivia Newton-John’s first choice for co-star/skating companion. Michael Beck from The Warriors ended up with the role.
♥ The movie soundtrack was more successful than the movie itself, with 2+ million copies being sold and five Top 20 hits.
♦ A reflection from Xanadu director Robert Greewald: “When I got the 40 pages, I thought, well, this is strange. There’s another version of the script someplace. For sure the script will be improved. Unfortunately, that never happened.”
♠ Xanadu was one of two movies that inspired the creation of the Golden Raspberry Awards (the Razzies). However, it did not win the coveted prize.
♣ Xanadu had a budget of 20 million, a rather large amount for a movie in 1980.
♥ Current Xanadu fans call themselves “Xanadudes”, “Xanadames”, and “Museheads”.
♦ Olivia Newton-John broke her coccyx while filming “Suddenly” for the film.
For your viewing pleasure, I present the trailer:
Portions of this article were curated from the following: