Roller Disco Triple Feature
About once a year there’s an event in Los Angeles so incredible that I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. This year got off to a bang up start with the roller disco triple feature (Xanadu, Roller Boogie and Skatetown U.S.A.) at The Egyptian.
I’ve only seen Xanadu once before and I wasn’t really a fan. In fact, I thought about skipping it Saturday night. I’m glad I didn’t. It’s a delightful little throwback to the golden age of cinematic musicals. I’m actually amazed this was a bomb, not to mention a career killer for Michael Beck. Gene Kelly is simply magical and while the plot is flimsy at best, the musical numbers and special effects are a real hook. Also, The Tubes are in it, which is a big selling point for me. I’m guessing the film got released literally weeks too late to really hit the mark, which is a shame, because it’s quite a lovely little picture.
My feelings on Roller Boogie are well known to fans of my old blog, Grindhouseland, which I sadly let lapse; The link goes to a cached version. One day I’ll upload my archive of it somewhere and let people play around in it. Anyway, basically all you need to know about this movie is that it’s a roller disco epic with Linda Blair, who I’m basically in love with. This is Linda at the height of her powers and charm, her cherubic face and curvy body at their peak. Even Jim Bray, who had never acted before and never acted again, really isn’t bad at all. The film is pretty much a series of cliches with a jarring shift between the first two acts (the Linda Blair / Jim Bray love story) and the third (the kids band together to save the roller rink). Roller Boogie is the Citizen Kane of roller disco films.
Skatetown U.S.A. is noteworthy as being Patrick Swayze’s first film. It also stars Scott Baio, Flip Wilson, Maureen “Marcia Brady” McCormack, Billy Barty, Ruth Buzzi and 1979 Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten. This is a strange movie to talk about, as it’s basically a collection of bits and skits more than a film. It has a distinctive vaudeville feel to it. My first viewing, this was definitely the weak link of the bunch, but I will say this: Patrick Swayze’s talent is obvious from the outset and he looks great.
I’m not sure that watching these movies would be the same on the small screen without a room full of drunk, mostly gay, men laughing. They’re all great fun, though. Xanadu is perfect for the well-rounded film buff, Roller Boogie is the roller disco film and a must for Linda Blair fans, Skatetown U.S.A. is a mostly entertaining little flick of interest to those ga ga over everything 1970s. Pop some corn, smoke some weed and hold your babies close.
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