Olivia Newton John and Michael Beck on rollerskates (bonus: Gene Kelly!)

Any reader of a certain age will look at the title of this post and know precisely where these images will be coming from: Xanadu! The 1980 roller-skating musical that demonstrated to a skeptical world just how much cocaine it was possible to inhale and remain standing behind a camera.

Lay blame where you like, many of the people involved in this production were good in other things. They even cast the amazing Gene Kelly, who among other things was a superb skater (see, for example, It’s Always Fair Weather, 1955. Or don’t bother, I’ll post an excerpt here sooner or later).

The embarassing scene above is clearly meant to evoke the “You Were Meant for Me” number in Singin in the Rain. Note that Olivia Newton John, co-star of this rollerskating musical, never really learned how to stop on skates and they had to choreograph Xanadu so that she could crash into things to stop.

Ooh, I can’t resist sharing some of It’s Always Fair Weather. Check out how Gene Kelly stops here, as compared to the above:

I am married with children, and I still want to be Gene Kelly when I grow up.

I am married with children, and I still want to be Gene Kelly when I grow up.

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