Sunday, September 26, 2010

Flashback: Olivia & Travolta

Happy 62nd birthday to Olivia Newton-John. Rather than celebrate with the usual Xanadu (1980) fixation or the more universally beloved Grease (1978) how about a duet with John Travolta from their flop reunion Two of a Kind (1983)? The third of her movie soundtracks is largely forgotten. I can't remember anything about the film other than that there was some divine romantic comedy intervention involving heaven and resurrection. Heaven Can Wait was a big hit the year that Grease was the biggest hit of all, so maybe it was still in the atmosphere to influence Two of a Kind's dumb story.

The only scene I remember is one in which Olivia was in acting class and her acting teacher thought she was a terrible actress (uhhh....) but then all of sudden while playing a scene she saw a criminal in the theater -- context? -- and started screaming and the teacher marvelled at how genuine her emotions felt! My point is that it was a terrible movie.

Here's the love theme / duet for the movie. Why isn't it one of the schmaltz classics of the 1980s? Even if you don't know the song, marvel at the sheer volume of PINK everywhere you look. There's only one color in this rainbow. Travolta is so very breathy... was it all those fumes from Olivia's hairspray? They look so contagiously happy together.




Though Two of a Kind justly flopped, the movie did give ONJ her one last big hit after a whole slew of them in the 70s and early 80s. It was "Twist of Fate." Madonna was about to change the whole pop landscape and Olivia would suddenly be of the past.



I have a lot of issues with John Travolta as a celebrity but one thing I think is cool about him: even with the gazillions of dollars and the inexplicably enduring bankability, he doesn't shun his past. Here he is with Olivia just a couple of years ago singing "You're The One That I Want" for a Grease DVD party. So here's to longevity and loyalty to one's friends.



When was the last time you watched Grease? How many times have you seen it?

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11 comments:

Liv. said...

i was six years old when i first saw Grease and it's endured as one of my favorites ever since. i watch it almost monthly. it was first shown to me by a babysitter and when i asked for the soundtrack for Christmas that year the parents were none too pleased. they were even less pleased when i asked what a hooker was.

Janice said...

One of the things I noticed about Danny Boyle's "A Life Less Ordinary" is that in many respects the storyline is the same as "Two of a Kind" (the only one of ONJ's movies I saw in the theater during it's original run...obviously I chose the wrong one.) By which I mean the entire "God is going to destroy the world unless two unlikely (and undeserving) people can fall in love and thus prove the world is worthy of saving..." (or something like that.)

chris na Taraja said...

Wow! I thought for sure the lyric in that song was "trying hard to hide that I am gay!" I'm howling. John walking like Danny Zuko, until you see his lipstick smile on that pink background. LOL

par3182 said...

all i remember from two of a kind is travolta invented edible sunglasses and olivia declared "they taste like shit"

ahhh, the tracy/hepburn of the 80s

i've seen grease more times than cha-cha digregorio has been around the dancefloor...

NATHANIEL R said...

Liv -- my parents weren't happy with my Grease fascination either.

Janice -- see right there you remember way more about the movie than me. It was also the first one i saw in theaters. the rest were on TV.

chris -- i figured this was a travolta moment people weren't familiar with.

par --that's a lot of times.

Jim Berg said...

Saw Grease in high school, about 3 times. My sister had a serious ONJ fixation. Hmm. I think I missed Two of a Kind, although I remember Twist of Fate as part of ONJ's disco phase, which also brought, lest you forget, Physical.

mh said...

wow, i'm loving the pink explosion

Glenn said...

Love Grease, but I'd rather watch Xanadu.

I've never seen Two of a Kind, but I've always thought "Twist of Fate" was Livvy's best song (excluding everything Xanadu, obviously). I'd never seen the clip for "Heaven Can Wait" though. Yikes!

Anthony said...

I have seen "Grease" way too many times than I care to admit to but I just LOVE the movie no matter how riduclous the idea of having thirty year olds playing high school kids.

Andrew R. said...

A very long time ago and only once. I like it, I just haven't got around to rewatching it.

javi75 said...

When the crane dollies on them in the pink movie set (Travolta is on the stairs and she runs to him), that shot looks a lot like one in "Singin in the rain" when Kelly and Reynolds are on a movie set and she's on a similar stair, also surrounded by spotlights and with a pinkish background. It's the "You're my lucky star" scene.

I guess I saw "Grease" for the first time on TV in the late 80's. The last time was a few months ago on blu-ray and I recommend it to everyone. The image detail was stunning.