The second most famous scientologist turns 62 today. As a contemporary of John Travolta’s I’ve watched him since I was a 22-year old college student and he, at twenty one, was playing high school student,Vinnie Barbarino. In fact, I went to college with a couple of the guys who sat in the back of Vinnie’s high school class in Welcome Back, Kotter.
Urban Cowboy, Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction, Michael, Hair Spray. And today’s #ThrowbackThursday film, Get Shorty. Travolta has come a long way from that Brooklyn classroom.
Roger Ebert, in his 1995 review, notes that Travolta was key in putting Elmore Leonard’s delicious dialogue into the script—that the screenplay originally stripped it of its iconic charm. And he cites this example:
“In the novel, when Chili's beloved jacket is taken from a check room, he says, “You see a black leather jacket, fingertip length, has lapels like a suitcoat? You don’t, you owe me three seventy-nine. You get the coat back or you give me the three seventy-nine my wife paid for it at Alexander’s.” In the screenplay, he says, this speech had been changed to, “Where’s my coat? You better find it. It cost $400.”That, if you ask me, is reason enough to love Travolta. At this time of year, we make a big deal over Academy Award nominated movies. Get Shorty didn’t get any Oscar nominations, but I don’t know, Get Shorty is about a mobster who goes to Hollywood to collect on a debt, only to learn the movie biz and the mob life have a whole lot in common. Maybe the Academy members, seeing themselves reflected on the big screen, took umbrage. Travolta, who has been nominated for two Oscars in his career—for Saturday Night Fever in the 70’s and Pulp Fiction in the 90’s—did win that year’s Golden Globe for Best Actor. The members of Hollywood’s foreign press corp were probably more that happy to laugh at the all the usual players.
The extraordinary cast of Get Shorty includes Rene Russo, Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, Dennis Farina and James Gandolfini. Directed by Barry Sonnefeld, you can screen Get Shorty today on Amazon, YouTube, iTunes, Vudu, Google-Play and HBO-Go.
Watch the trailer. Dare you not to laugh!
What’s your favorite Travolta movie?