Carrie

She never had a chance.

Scarred from birth by a psycho mother, mocked by all around her, Carrie White simply yearned for a little peace.

When she didn’t get it, something deep inside cracked, and the world burned, hate repaid with stone-cold vengeance.

Sissy Spacek, such a strong actress, is note-perfect as the gentle, fractured soul bedeviled by anger crashing down upon her.

When Carrie kills, it’s not with anger or malice, but with sadness – a deep, never-ending well of sadness.

She’s not a villain, but a victim.

But still one who will burn the world to the ground.

 

Saturday Night Fever

Like a peacock on amphetamines.

That’s how film critic Gene Siskel described John Travolta, and it fits.

Every hair perfectly in place, chest hair included, Tony Manero struts like a God among men when he’s in his disco safe place, but out in the real world, things aren’t so hunky-dory.

It’s easy to forget how rough this film is, especially in the original R-rated version, as it chronicles a guy (figuratively) slamming his head against the wall in frustration over his go-nowhere life.

Mixing ’70s grit with soaring, Bee Gees-backed dance numbers, it’s a period piece which still works today.

 

Blow Out

Murder has a sound all of its own.

Brian DePalma delivers a gut-punch for the ages with this soaked-in-paranoia tale of a man who accidently records evidence of a political assassination, only to see his own life crumble in the aftermath.

With nary a dance floor in sight, John Travolta delivers one of his best performances, a man haunted by the past and ripped apart by the horror of the present.

Trying in vain to save Nancy Allen, an up close and personal witness to the crime, he finds out the truth — few, if any, escape from DePalma’s world unscarred.

Grease

The man can freakin’ dance.

Take all away the movies, all the real-world drama, all the comebacks, the fade-aways, and the re-comebacks, and one thing remains crystal clear.

John Travolta can move his ever-lovin’ feet.

Sure, Saturday Night Fever is probably the perfect showcase for his twinkle-happy toes, and his revival dance with Uma in Pulp Fiction was nirvana.

But there is a moment in Grease, when, clad in the sleekest black-and-pink combo ever rocked on the silver screen, Travolta absolutely tears up the floor.

A lean, mean, dancin’ machine in his absolute blow-the-walls-off-the-gym prime.

 

Pulp Fiction

It felt like danger.

Here we are, 26 years down the road from that night.

When I sat smushed in the middle of a crowded, small-town theater and let Quinten Tarantino inject pure cinematic heroin into my open veins.

Reservoir Dogs hit first, but only on VHS where I lived.

So John Travolta’s phoenix-like rise from the ashes, the arrival of Samuel L. Jackson, and the birth of Uma Thurman as a screen goddess combined to provide that first big slap to the head.

It was new and fresh and wild, and, all these years later, it hasn’t lost a thing.