The Year 1980 Was the ‘Annus Horribilis’ for Movie Musicals

With the recent success of Bohemian RhapsodyA Star Is BornMary Poppins Returns and Mama Mia! Here We Go Again, movie musicals are big box office again.

With of course Cats being the big exception.


Cats (2019) Cockroach Scene


But 40 years ago we witnessed a remarkable year, which surely must be regarded as nadir of the film musical – 1980. In a long, excruciating twelve months the world saw the release of XanaduCan’t Stop The MusicThe Apple (rated one of the worst films of all time), Popeye (the less said the better), and that lousy Neil Diamond remake of The Jazz Singer – notable for Laurence Olivier’s completely cornball Cantor Rabinovich – of ‘I Hef no Son!’ fame.
If you don’t believe me, m’lud, I present the following evidence:




Xanadu Official Trailer #1 - Gene Kelly Movie (1980) HD


Can't Stop The Music (1980) - Official Trailer


The Apple Official Trailer #1 - Joss Ackland Movie (1980) HD




Neil Diamond and Laurence Olivier --The Jazz Singer



Larry O, making Topol (Fiddler on the Roof) look restrained:

Fiddler on the roof - If I were a rich man (with subtitles)



Olivier was given a sports car or some such for a brief cameo appearance in a movie; a fellow actor said to him (I paraphrase):

“You got that for just 10 minutes work?’

Olivier replied,” That was for 40 years work dear boy”
Well said. So will ever see the likes of 1980 and it’s musicals onslaught again?  We can only hope not – although 1975 was a foreshadowing, with the late Stanley Donen’s awful Lucky Lady and Bogdanovich’s At Long Last Love with Burt Reynolds and John Hillerman having the unfortunate distinction of appearing in both these stinkers..


'Lucky Lady' Theatrical Trailer


And…lest we forget, 1973’s Lost Horizon remake, a disaster so profound that it sundered the hugely successful songwriting partnership of Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
If you doubt me:




Lost Horizon Question Me.mpg

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Stephen Arnell

Culture Comment Content Provider. Portrait courtesy of artist Darren Coffield. 'Non satis me tempo'