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The John Travolta Bio

The John Travolta Review – MovieActors.com

by Nate Lee

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Best Films:

Get Shorty / Pulp Fiction

The early stuff just doesn't hold up except, ironically, "Grease," which was always out of time. "Pulp Fiction" brought John back from the dead and "Get Shorty" owes virtually its entire success (with the added oomph of foils DeVito and Hackman) to him and his Golden Globe-winning performance. Then, in the last half of the '90s, Travolta could do no wrong, especially with the underrated romantic comedy-dramas of "Phenomenon" and "Michael," leading up to the turn of the century and "Battlefield Earth." Oh, well. What we do for love.


Great Performances You May Not Have Seen:
Phenomenon (a simple, rural car mechanic who suddenly becomes a genius)

Be Cool (Chili Palmer in the sequel to "Get Shorty," this time with Uma Thurman)

Swordfish (a bank robber with higher ambitions)

A Civil Action (as real-life attorney Jan Schlichtman, who ruined himself financially while doing legal battle with companies he accused of polluting the environment)

She's So Lovely (a three-way with Mr. and Mrs. Sean Penn)

Broken Arrow
Blockbusters:
Get Shorty (Golden Globe-winning performance as Chili Palmer, gangster turned film producer)
Urban Cowboy
Carrie
Primary Colors (Golden Globe-nominated performance as Bill Clinton)
Blow Out (remake of Blow-Up, using sound)
Taking of Pelham 123 (frightening bad guy in the remake)
Ladder 49 (Fire Dept. captain)
Face/Off (FBI agent, opposite Nicolas Cage, literally)
The Song and/or Dance John:
Saturday Night Fever (Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated performance as Tony Manero)
Grease (with Olivia Newton-John, the film version of the musical)
Hairspray (Golden Globe and SAG-nominated performance as Tracy's mom, Edna Turnblad, easily the )
Pulp Fiction (Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG-nominated performance as a hit man in Tarantino's classic) 
The Cultural Titan:
Saturday Night Fever (brought disco to the world)
Urban Cowboy (with Debra Winger, brought bar-bull-riding to the world)
Pulp Fiction (introduced another dance to the world, as well as hip, chatty assassins to the film world)
Grease (brought fifties music back again)
The Real John Travolta:
Saturday Night Fever / The Dance Movies

He's a professional pilot, but not like in "Broken Arrow." He's a Scientologist, but certainly not worthy of being brought down by "Battleship Earth." He's the archetypal cool, but not detached like "Pulp Fiction" or "Get Shorty."
Acting Style:
Friendly cool. Even when he was the disco king there was something very approachable – sensitive even – about John. Like Chili, he's the kind of guy who could ride a minivan and not only make it cool, but make you want one, too. Recently, that accessibility has made him compelling in silly comedies, but we buy it when, in the next screen over, he's a cop or a supervillain.
Bits and Quirks:
Does he dance in every movie? Not quite, and that's too bad. His trademark cool is its coolest when he's on the dance floor. There's a walk, too, usually a graceful jaunt. The bowed head, without the slouch, but with a pursed lip. The head back, super straight stand up, like a dog sensing something. The big boyish grin. The nasally whine. The perforated cool, in comedies, when he blows it for just a moment. Sitting back with the same stiff back.
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Great Scenes:
Get Shorty

> All of the "look at me" scenes
> The "look at me" lecture to Danny DeVito
> Getting rid of the bodyguard down the stairs
> Shooting bad-guy Dennis Farina
> Explaining things to Gene Hackman
> Making the movie, at the end
> The balcony scene, courtesy of Gandolfino

Saturday Night Fever

> The dance moves in the competition
> The dance moves in practice

Swordfish

> The speech in the beginning on "Dog Day Afternoon"
> Putting the gun to Hugh Jackman's head to test him
> The speech in the car on Houdini and misdirection
> The fire fight with the machine gun

Pulp Fiction

> The diner dialogue
> The famous "Big Mac" conversation in the car
> Dancing with Uma Thurman
> In the bathroom after coming home with Uma
> Bringing Uma back to life from her cocaine overdose

Michael

> Coming downstairs smoking a cigarette and pouring sugar over everything
> Bringing the dog back to life
> Seducing the waitress
> Dancing with all the girls in the bar, and the ensuing fight with all the guys
> The "chase scene" with William Hurt at the end

Phenomenon

> Finding the boy in the orchard
> The haircut, with Kyra Sedgwick
> Recording the Portuguese for Forest Whitaker
> Making things move and float, especially at the book fair
> Answering the questions of the military guys

Face/Off

> Imitating Nicolas Cage
> The personality change, especially around Joan Allen and his daughter
If you like John Travolta You probably didn't like:
Staying Alive
Battlefield Earth
The Thin Red Line 
Go to the... John Travolta Bio