This is it. This is what you’ve been waiting for. Perfect escapism. A spectacular entertainment that will transport you
beyond your wildest dreams.
Imagine – Olivia Newton-John. Gene Kelly. The Most dazzling musical fantasy in years. Spectacular production numbers.
Five songs by Jeff Lynne for Electric Light Orchestra. Five songs by John Farrar. Fabulous special effects. Tap-dancing.
Jiierbugging. Beautiful sets and costumes. A very special love story. Magic. The Tubes. The 40s meet the 80s. The first big,
lavish old-fashioned musical to utilize the new music.
The most delightful, lyrical movie of the summer. Indeed, of the entire year. To borrow a phrase from another musical
treat, “Boy, do we nee it now!” It has the most irresistible score you’ve heard in a long, long time. This is the movie with the
hit songs “Magic,” “I’m Alive,” “All Over The World,” Suddenly,” and the title song, “XANADU.”
“….a million light are dancing and there you are….”
This is XANADU.
Where dreams com true.
Open your eyes, feel the magic.
Open you eyes and gaze on the screen’s newest love goddess.
This is only her second film, and she’ll ravish you’re your senses with her luminous beauty, her beautiful voice, her
incandescent sweetness, her otherworldly loveliness. Born under the sign of Libra, Olivia has that common with her love
goddess of the 40s, Rita Hayworth.
One of Olivia’s two co-starts also starred in the 40s with Hayworth – Gene Kelly – the greatest dancer of all time. The
incomparable, wonderful Kelly dances again in a film. And when he dances with Olivia to the song, “Whenever You’re Away
From Me,” the charm, warmth and joy of their duet make the years slip away back to something akin to the of our innocence.
Olivia’s love interest in XANADU is Michael Back, the man with the dynamite presence in “The Warriors.” Displaying a new
side of his talents, Beck’s scene with Olivia his strength and his vulnerability, particularly in a number they share: “….she
walks in, and I’m suddenly a hero….” The duet is actually sung by Olivia and Cliff Richard on the soundtrack.
XANADU is, of course, a love story. It’s about love found. Love lost. Love recaptured. Love eternal. Love which inspires. Love
which transcends time.
XANADU is a story about a girl who makes dreams come true. Her name is Kira, and she’ Olivia Newton-John. It is she
who brings Gene Kelly and Michael Beck together in XANADU where each of them fulfills his dreams.
“….bring all your dreams alive….”
Olivia Newton-john portrays a muse, one of Zeus’ nine daughters. She and her eight sisters come down to earth to help
mere mortals make their fantasies into realities.
Gene Kelly is a former clarinet player who once had his own band and nightclub in the 40s, but gave it all up for the security
of the family business. Now wealthy and retires, he longs to have another club and be involved with music and the magic of
show business again.
Michael Beck is a young artist who duplicates record album covers for billboards. He is not happy with his work; it is as
static as a still life. He is uncertain what he wants from life. Until he meets the ravishing Kira.
XANADU is the past and the present interwoven in a unique and fresh manner. It is a look at the future and a loving
remembrance of the way things were in the heyday of Hollywood. The old becomes the new.
XANADU has something for everyone.
“….forget about the blues tonight, sweet….thing….”
XANADU is a Lawrence Gordon production, produced by Gordon, with Joel Silver as co-producer, and Lee Kramer as
executive producer. Robert Greenwald directed from a screenplay by Richard Christian Danus and Marc Reid Rubel.
The music was created by Jeff Lynne, driving force behind Electric Light Orchestra, who wrote five original songs, and by
John Farrar, who wrote five additional songs for Olivia Newton-John. ELO recorded Lynne’s songs for the soundtrack of
Kenny Ortega and Jerry Trent choreographed the spectacular musical number using Hollywood’s freshest and most
Producer Gordon (“The End,” “The Warriors,” “Hooper”) describes the history of XANADU: “Joel Silver was an executive for
me with the assignment of developing projects. He happens to be a real film buff, and he wanted to make an old-fashioned
musical. We developed the story for Warner Bros., which declined to go ahead. Maybe they were right to do so. A musical
fantasy is chancey, and at the time we didn’t have Olivia and Gene. Joel and I still both believed in the project. We took it to
Universal and they decided to do the film.”
Next came director Robert Greenwald. Gordon, having seen several movies for TV directed by Greenwald, admired his
work. Although XANADU marks Greenwald’s feature film debut, he had a very successful career directing on the stage, as
well as television.
The next objective for Gordon, Silver and Greenwald was finding the right actors.
Olivia Newton-John’s first American film, “Grease,” turned out to be the most successful film musical in history. Inevitably,
Olivia, already a superstar in the music world, was barraged with film scripts. She was in no hurry to do another film,
however, unless the right project came along.
When Gene Kelly agreed to be in the film, he told Gordon, Silver and Greenwald he wouldn’t “touch a toe.” He would strictly
be a dramatic actor. Fortunately, they were able to persuade him to dance in several of the production numbers.
One of the most colorful numbers was staged at a boutique in Beverly Hills, with Kelly dancing his way through more than
half a dozen costume changes.
“The man is not just an actor and dancer,” says Greenwald, “he’s also a producer, director, choreographer, and writer. It’s
not only a challenge to direct him on my first picture – it would be the same on my fiftieth picture!”
With Olivia and Kelly signed to star in XANADU, Gordon, silver, Greenwald and executive producer Lee Kramer had one
major role left to cast, that of the romantic lead opposite Olivia. Lots of names came up, but one kept coming back to was
Michael Beck, who had starred for Gordon in “The Warriors.” It was felt by all that the chemistry between him and Olivia
would be very exciting. Michael solid acting training in England also would add another dimension to a fantasy musical.
With three such talented stars, an equally able cinematographer was needed to capture their essence for the screen.
Veteran cinematographer Victor J. Kemper was signed. His credits include “…And Justice For All,” “Oh, God!,” “The Last
Tycoon,” and “Dog Day Afternoon.”
“….an everlasting world and you’re here with me eternally….”
Rarely has there been a musical with so many dazzling special effects sequences. Wait till you see the muses spring to
life for a wall painting to the lyrical strains of “I’m Alive.” Responsible for the special effects and main title are R. Greenberg
Associates, under the creative direction of Richard Greenburg who originally was brought in only for the opening titles and
promotion, Gordon, Silver and Greenwald were so delighted with the knock-you-out-of-your-seat optical, Greenberg
eventually created more than 100 opticals and effects for XANADU.
Construction on the interior of XANADU, a streamlined moderne place, was begun early in September of 1979 on stage 4
of Hollywood General Studios. It took three months to build the million dollar oval-shaped set, which is the largest ever
designed by John Corso (“Coal Miner’s Daughter”).
The two-story set measures 163 feet by 90 feet.
The company spent more than three weeks filming the XANADU finale. The basic color used: burgundy and grey.
Fountains surrounded the rotating platform below the stage. A curtain of mirrored panels rose and fell between musical
numbers. Two hundred and thirty-seven dancers, roller skaters, and specialty acts worked in the sequence; including
jugglers, tightrope walkers, boogaloo street dancers, and adagio dancers.
For this most lavish of finales, Olivia has a number of wonderful costume changes. She tap-dances, garbed in a 40s
sunsuit with her hair in an updo Betty Grable-style. For a hot rock number, she wears a tigerskin vest and a slit mini-skirt.
There’s a hoedown country-western number with Olivia in a white fringed cowboy outfit. For the stunning showgirl number,
Olivia glides up a ramp clothed in an elegant Erte-influenced gown. She looks fabulous.
“….got some dancin’ to do, lover, I won’t take a
The Battle of the Bands number, “Dancin’,” contains some of the most exciting dance sequence in XANADU.
The number expresses Kelly’s and Beck’s very different visualizations of XANADU.
Kelly fantasizes XANADU in a 1940s atmosphere with a swing band elegantly dressed in tuxedos. A trio of girl singers
croons, and a wide assortment of dancers in 40s-style clothing jitterbug their hearts out.
Beck sees XANADU as an 80s electrified rock group (performed by The Tubes). In front of the stage are a group of dancers
dresses in neon-colored jumpsuits and tights. The dance is outrageous hot rock.
The finale of the 40s-80s number sees the two stages, with the musicians and dancers merging into one group for an
“….why do I feel so alive when you’re near….”