Xanadu (1980)

Xanadu (1980)

Taglines: A Place where dreams come true.

Sonny Malone is a talented artist who dreams of fame beyond his job, which is the non-creative task of painting larger versions of album covers for record-store window advertisements. As the film opens, Sonny is broke and on the verge of giving up his dream. Having quit his day job to try to make a living as a freelance artist, but having failed to make any money at it, Sonny returns to his old job at AirFlo Records. After some humorous run-ins with his imperious boss and nemesis, Simpson, he resumes painting record covers.

At work, Sonny is told to paint an album cover for a group called The Nine Sisters. The cover features a beautiful woman in front of an art deco auditorium (the Pan-Pacific Auditorium). Earlier that day, this same woman had collided with him, kissed him, then roller-skated away. Now, Malone becomes obsessed with finding her. He finds her at the same auditorium, now abandoned. She identifies herself as Kira, but she will not tell him anything else about herself. Unbeknownst to Sonny, Kira is one of nine mysterious and beautiful women who sprang to life from a local mural in town near the beach.

Xanadu (1980)

Walking near the beach, Sonny befriends Daniel “Danny” McGuire, a has-been big band orchestra leader turned construction mogul. Danny lost his muse in the 1940s (who is seen in a flashback scene to bear a startling resemblance to Kira), and Sonny has not yet found his muse. Kira encourages the two men to form a partnership and open a nightclub at the old auditorium from the album cover. She falls in love with Sonny, and this presents a problem because she is actually an Olympian Muse (“Kira’s” real name is Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance). The other eight women from the beginning of the film are her sisters and fellow goddesses, the Muses, and the mural is actually a portal of sorts and their point of entry to Earth.

Xanadu is a 1980 American romantic musical fantasy film written by Richard Christian Danus and Marc Reid Rubel and directed by Robert Greenwald. The title is a reference to the nightclub in the film, which takes its name from Xanadu, the summer capital of Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty in China. This city appears in Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a poem that is quoted in the film. The film’s plot was inspired by 1947’s Down to Earth.

Xanadu stars Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck, and Gene Kelly, and features music by Newton-John, Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), Cliff Richard, and The Tubes. The film also features animation by Don Bluth.

A box office flop, Xanadu earned mixed to negative critical reviews and was an inspiration for the creation of the Golden Raspberry Awards to memorialize the worst films of the year. Despite the lacklustre performance of the film, the soundtrack album became a huge commercial success around the world, and was certified double platinum in the United States. The song “Magic” was a U.S. number one hit for Newton-John, and the title track (by Newton-John and ELO) reached number one in the UK and several other countries around the world.

Xanadu Movie Poster (1980)

Xanadu (1980)

Directed by: Robert Greenwald
Starring: Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, Michael Beck. James Sloyan, Dimitra Arliss, Katie Hanley, Fred McCarren, Sandahl Bergman, Lynn Latham, Melinda Phelps
Bcreenplay by: Richard Christian Danus, Marc Reid Rubel
Production Design by: John W. Corso
Cinematography by: Victor J. Kemper
Film Editing by: Dennis Virkler
Costume Design by: Bobbie Mannix
Set Decoration by: Marc E. Meyer Jr.
Music by: Barry De Vorzon
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: August 8, 1980