Friday, May 11, 2012

Revisionist history: John Travolta

John Travolta is in the news. And his career's arc is being erroneously recounted:
Travolta, who shot to fame in the 1970s on TV show "Welcome Back, Kotter" and had starring roles in movies "Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease," suffered a career lull in the late 1980s.  
But he bounced back with gritty roles in films such as 1994's "Pulp Fiction" and later, action adventure "Face/Off."
Anyone who lived through the 80s knows this is false. In fact, Travolta bounced back long before "Pulp Fiction." Who can forget his tour de force performance as James Urbiacco in "Look Who's Talking" (1989), "Look Who's Talking Too" (1990), and "Look Who's Talking Now" (1993)?

In hindsight, it seems very strange that Travolta was not a cast member of "Three Men and a Baby" (1987). Too soon, I guess. It's been said elsewhere, but it bears repeating: Steve Guttenberg is no John Travolta. (Full disclosure: I saw "Three Men and a Baby" four times. In the theater. It was a boring summer.)

In all seriousness, I recall that at least the first of the "Look Who's ..." movies was a blockbuster, and that it was that film that revived Travolta's career (after the delightful disasters of "Staying Alive," "Two of a Kind" (edible sunglasses!) and "Perfect" (among others)). Sure, Travolta got his street cred back in "Pulp Fiction" (1994) but he had already reestablished himself as box office gold with the "Look Who's ..." trilogy.

By the way, I believe I have seen 27 of the top 28 grossing moving of 1989, which is pretty amazing to me. The first to guess which of the top 28 I've never seen will be awarded 20 Gillette-Torvik Bucks™, which can be used to purchase Gillette-Torvik Paraphernalia (forthcoming).


  1. I will go with #27, See No Evil, Hear No Evil. But the hidden lede is that you are a movie slut. I noted yesterday that the DSM is in the news for a controversial broadening of the definition of the pathology of addiction, by the way. Your loved ones might cut off your NetFlix account and stage an intervention any day now?

  2. Steel Magnolias is my guess. I don't recall what the Torvik holiday movie was that year. Also as sited on "The Soup" Maybe it wasn't John Travolta who harrassed the massage people, but Nicholas Cage wearing John Travolta's face.

  3. SJSL -- Wrong! Apparently you weren't aware that Gene Wilder (born in Milwaukee) is one of my favorite actors. For example, I saw every episode of "Something Wilder." Also, the surprising thing about how many of those movies I've seen is that I really don't watch that many movies. I think it must just be something about that time in my life: age 13.

    Anon-- Very good guess, but no I've seen "Steel Magnolias." Or at least parts of it.

  4. Parts of it don't count. I win. Second guess is ST part V. I do remember The Next Generation ST being a Torvik Holiday movie.

  5. I'll guess "Sea of Love." I have only seen 9 of those movies.

  6. Gillette is correct, though I suspect he cheated. He is also ineligible. This has pretty much been a disaster. No Gillette-Torvik Bucks™ awarded to anyone!!


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