Herb Shellenberger

Nancy Walker's Can't Stop the Music (1980)
August 9, 2013
International House Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA, US

Outdoor screening as part of Totally Terrible 80s!

New York City DJ-songwriter Jack Morell (Steve Guttenberg) needs a big break to get his music heard and land a record deal. With the help of his retired supermodel roommate (Valerie Perrine) and an uptight tax attorney (Olympic champion Bruce Jenner), Jack brings together six singing macho men from the Greenwich Village scene in this pseudo-autobiography of the Village People—a fun-filled adventure of fantasy and disco fever!

Can’t Stop the Music is notorious for being the first winner of the Worst Picture Razzie, as it was a double feature of this and Xanadu that inspired John J. B. Wilson to start the Razzies. The film was the sole feature by Nancy Walker, star of film, television and radio most known for her role as Ida Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda, as well as a popular commercial campaign for Bounty paper towels (“the quicker-picker-upper”) from 1970–90. Producer Allan Carr—wishing to replicate his success as writer-producer of Grease—hoped to score huge with this big budget disco musical. However by the time of its release during the summer of 1980, the disco genre had not only peaked in the United States but was experiencing a backlash. The film received scathing reviews and audiences stayed away. At a cost estimated at $20 million, the film was a colossal failure financially, bringing in only a tenth of that in gross revenue.

Since its initial failure, the film has gained something of a cult status as a camp film. The film has been screened at gay film festivals, including the 2008 London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, and is an annual New Year’s tradition on Australian television.

Can't Stop the Music, Nancy Walker, 1980, US, digital, 123'