Taking A Video Ride On Travolta’s Career


John Travolta’s career could best be described as manic-depressive.

The oh-so-hot actor has staged a comeback unrivaled in recent film history. Even during that bleak period in his career, around the mid-‘80s, the charismatic Travolta could still command the screen, even if the movie stunk.

To really appreciate one of this generation’s best actors, flash back to these videos by that Comeback King:

“Devil’s Rain”: In his first film, Travolta tackles satanic worshippers who melt like Gumby at a camp cookout. Messy, howlingly bad. But seeing Ernie Borgnine sporting goat horns is stirring, in an odd way. (1975)*

“Carrie”: Brian DePalma creeper with John as the bad guy who contributes in pushing the telekinetic teen Carrie over the edge at her prom. A horror classic. (1976) ****

“Saturday Night Fever”: He boogies, he prances, he struts his stuff, but disco king Tony Manero’s life rings as hollow as the generation he’s living in the ‘70s. A film that vividly defines a decade. Travolta is absolutely mesmerizing. (1977) **** “Grease”: As substantial as a hunk of a Bazooka bubble gum, this goofy musical is simply irresistible. Travolta sings, as does Olivia Newton John, in Hollywood’s most successful musical of all time. (1978) ***-1/2

“Urban Cowboy”: Another slice of American life a la “Saturday Night Fever.” Travolta busts mechanical bulls and hearts in director James Bridges’ sharp and character-driven flick. It rambles at times, but when it’s in the saddle it’s magnificent. (1980) ****-1/2

“Blow Out”: Travolta reunites with DePalma, the master of imitation, with this dark and shocking story involving an assassination and a serial killer. (1981) ****

“Two of a Kind”: Angels Beatrice Straight, Charles Durning and Scatman Crothers play Cupid. Their targets: John and Olivia. Travolta’s worst performance. (1983)

“Perfect”: Hardly. Based on a Rolling Stone article, John goes to an aerobics class to get to the root of the evilness of health clubs! Oh, those rotten fitness trainers. A movie that is not only flat but utterly useless. (1985) *

The “Look Who’s Talking” Opus: Yes, No. 1 (1989) was kind of cute, but the vapid “Too” (1990) and the film furball “Now” (1993) - with the family mutts talking - makes a Bronson Pinchot sitcom seem like a comedic inspiration.

“Pulp Fiction”: Bold, cutting-edge Quentin Tarantino film is oft-copied, never duplicated. One of the most influential, and therefore loved and reviled, films of the ‘90s. Seamlessly made. (1994) ****

“Get Shorty”: Translating Elmore Leonard’s novels to the screen isn’t always successful. This time everything clicks, due mainly to Travolta’s brash, confident performance as a loan shark and film fan who goes to L.A. to force two Hollywood types to pay up.(1995) ***-1/2

“Broken Arrow”: Not one of John Woo’s best (see “Face/Off”), but enjoyable and suspenseful nevertheless. Great over-the-top acting by Travolta as the heavy whose elaborate scheme to snatch some nuclear weapons goes awry thanks to a spunky Christian Slater. (1995) ***

“Michael”: A stinker impersonating a box-office hit. Travolta is a gassy, beer-guzzlin’ angel. A movie that suffers from mono. “Touched by an Angel” is better, and that’s not saying a heck of a lot. (1996) *

Tuesday’s releases:

Free Willy 3

The lovable orca returns for a third adventure, this one involving illegal whaling. PG

Trial and Error

When a rookie lawyer (Jeff Daniels) is too hung over to take on his first big case, his actor friend (Michael Richards) goes on in his place. PG-13 xxxx WHAT’S NEW TO VIEW Now available: Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas (Disney), Face/Off (Paramount), Gone Fishin’ (Buena Vista). Available Tuesday: Free Willy 3 (Warner), Trial and Error (New Line), Prefontaine (Buena Vista), Rhyme & Reason (Miramax).

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