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John Travolta’s Finest Films, Ranked

John Travolta’s Finest Films, Ranked


John Travolta is definitely some of the fascinating characters in Hollywood, on and off-screen. An outspoken member of the Church of Scientology, he’s been liable for among the trade’s most infamous field workplace bombs. Nonetheless, he is additionally starred in a few of Hollywood’s most revered and iconic movies of all time.



Travolta was driving firmly on the high of his sport within the late Seventies, however through the ’80s, Travolta’s profession was tormented by some unlucky field workplace flops and poor position decisions that did not correctly showcase his expertise. Nonetheless, the trajectory of his profession modified when Quentin Tarantino eyed him for the position of Vincent Vega within the genre-defying, all-around traditional Pulp Fiction. Travolta re-established his star standing, and the vital and industrial success of Pulp Fiction led to a profession resurgence within the ’90s.

As of late, his profession seems to be dipping once more. His output has been lower than spectacular, with the vast majority of his motion pictures getting universally panned by critics and going straight to streaming. But when historical past is something to go by, it will be silly to write down off Travolta simply but, as there’s all the time an opportunity the king of comebacks may rediscover his mojo and add to his assortment of nice movies.

Associated: This is What Makes Pulp Fiction the Finest Motion Film of the 90s

Up to date on August third, 2023 by Danilo Raul: This text has been up to date with extra content material to maintain the dialogue recent and related with much more info and new entries.

15 Carrie (1976)

John Travolta in the movie Carrie

Watching John Travolta play a villain is a responsible pleasure, particularly in his youthful days. The person appears to be like like a pleasing particular person, so it is extra impactful to see him act twisted to unsuspecting victims on display. Brian De Palma’s Carrie is an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel starring Sissy Spacek because the shy and misunderstood Carrie White. John Travolta performs Billy Nolan, the movie’s lead antagonist, and all-around college bully.

Regardless that Travolta was already a bit previous to play a teen, he aces the half with a nuanced efficiency because the callous, vindictive Billy. He isn’t fond of individuals accepting Carrie whereas calling him out for making her life depressing. He is the one to play the prank with the pig blood, unleashing Carrie’s telekinetic powers and dooming all his classmates to a fiery loss of life.

14 City Cowboy (1980)

urban cowboy
Paramount Photos

John Travolta nonetheless sported a child face have a look at 26, so he was a fantastic option to play Bud Davis within the coming-of-age story City Cowboy. The romantic drama is written and directed by James Bridges and options the abilities of Debra Winger and Scott Glenn. Travolta performs a conservative cowboy shifting to Pasadena to realize fame and fortune within the cowboy scene within the metropolis.

After assembly Sissy, they fall in love and marry, however their opposing views on gender roles drive them aside, making Sissy fall in love with Bud’s rival, Wes. Resolved to get Sissy again by any means, he challenges Wes to a bull driving competitors the place one of the best rider will get the lady in the long run. It is a pretty movie, very reflective of the period it was made and the values of previous occasions.

13 Phenomenon (1996)

Touchstone Photos.

Generally sci-fi can painting some goofy situations whereas making an attempt to convey a message. Different occasions, this department of fiction can be utilized to inform a healthful story. John Travolta has been on the two ends of the spectrum. The nice one is Phenomenon (the unhealthy one is Battlefield Earth, however don’t inform him that). This film, written by Gerald Di Pego and directed by Jon Turteltaub, options Travolta as George Malley, a small-town mechanic who good points extraordinary cognitive powers after witnessing a wierd gentle.

Believing it to be a miracle or a sign despatched by aliens, George makes use of his elevated mind to assist folks. He creates a potent fertilizer to assist the farmers in his city, redirects daylight to develop new power sources, and learns a number of languages. When a second occasion reveals the devastating actuality of his newfound expertise, George is compelled to run for his life as the federal government and the scientific neighborhood hunt him to reap his thoughts.

12 Swordfish (2001)

Warner Bros. Photos.

Swordfish is a film remembered for a number of issues. It was the second movie by Hugh Jackman for a significant Hollywood studio, and it had John Travolta enjoying a glossy and ambiguous CIA operative named Gabriel Shear.

The film, written by Skip Woods and directed by Dominic Sena, tells the story of an excellent hacker who will get launched from jail and is shortly recruited by Gabriel to crack the safety of a rival intelligence company and steal their cash. Travolta steals the present by enjoying a bombastic villain with a aptitude for the dramatic and a relentless disposition to kill anybody who challenges him.

11 Michael (1996)

Michael 1996
New Line Cinema

Within the 1996 dramedy Michael, Travolta performs the Archangel Michael, as he is despatched all the way down to Earth to finish numerous duties for his creator. Surrounded by an excellent solid that features Andie MacDowell, William Harm, and Bob Hoskins, Travolta shines within the titular position.

The movie is quirky and humorous, whereas nonetheless pulling on the heartstrings in moments the place Michael should play cupid, and in a very tear-jerking second the place he brings the protagonist’s canine, Sparky, again to life after being hit by a truck. Michael was a singular ’90s comedy that by no means acquired the quantity of adore it deserved.

Associated: 10 Main Roles John Travolta Turned Down or Did not Get

10 Damaged Arrow (1996)

Broken Arrow 1996
    twentieth Century Fox

In one among his uncommon motion villain roles, Travolta performs Main Vic Deakins in Damaged Arrow. Travolta performs the other of Christian Slater in a task the place he steals nuclear warheads in hopes of blackmailing the U.S. authorities for cash, or else he’ll detonate the missiles in populated areas.

Although not as memorable as his different ’90s villain position, Face/Off, Travolta does a fantastic job embodying a cool and picked up psychopath a lot in the identical method because the 1997 thriller. Damaged Arrow would not get as a lot love because it ought to, and most of its positives come from Travolta’s nice efficiency.

9 The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

The Taking of Pelham 123
Sony Photos Releasing

Although its title is a mouthful, The Taking of Pelham 123 is an easy motion thriller, one elevated by Travolta’s efficiency as felony hijacker Dennis “Ryder” Ford (alias Mr. Blue). Right here, Travolta trades in his poufy, fastidiously styled hair and clean-shaven face for edgy sideburns and a handlebar mustache.

It is a totally different search for Travolta, however one which reveals the actor getting old gracefully. In some methods, his efficiency hearkens again to the violent criminality of his position in Pulp Fiction, solely right here he is extra scary than humorous. It is a robust dramatic half and one which Travolta excels at.

8 Hairspray (2007)

A scene from Hairspray
New Line Cinema

Hairspray is predicated on the 2002 Broadway musical of the identical title, which in flip was based mostly on John Waters’ 1988 comedy movie of the identical title. It follows the “pleasantly plump” teenage lady Tracy Turnblad, as she encounters stardom as a dancer on an area tv dance present and rallies in opposition to racial segregation. John Travolta performs Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mom, who’s agoraphobic and ashamed of her weight problems.

Travolta’s casting as Edna continued the custom of getting a person in drag painting the character, as seen within the authentic 1988 movie. It has been reported that the film executives initially anticipated the half to be crammed by an actor extra well-known for his comedian roles. Nonetheless, resulting from his success within the musical Grease and their religion in his versatility, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron fought for Travolta, and the remaining is historical past. Travolta performed this larger-than-life character so nicely that it appears onerous to think about another actor beside the unique’s Divine within the position.

7 In a Valley of Violence (2016)

In A Valley of Violence
Focus World

The latest movie on this checklist, In a Valley of Violence is a whip-smart western from Ti West (of X and Pearl fame). Half black comedy and half thriller, it places a refreshing spin on the style and contains star performances from Ethan Hawke and John Travolta. Travolta takes on the position of Clyde Martin, a marshal making an attempt to maintain his city, Denton, below management and out of bother.

When an unfortunate drifter arrives on the scene, bother arrives with him, and Denton’s fragile peace is damaged. Travolta performs Martin as a stoic, respectable marshal doing his finest to keep up order in a violent world. It is a enjoyable style position for the veteran actor and one among his finest movies in latest reminiscence.

6 Get Shorty (1995)

John Travolta in Get Shorty

Get Shorty was a sharply satirical movie that completely tailored Elmore Leonard’s novel of the identical title by delivering the proper mixture of comedy and thriller. John Travolta stars alongside Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito. It follows Chili Palmer (Travolta), a Miami mobster and mortgage shark who inadvertently will get concerned in characteristic movie manufacturing after touring to Los Angeles to gather a on line casino debt from a B-movie director.

Like Hairspray, Travolta wasn’t essentially everyone’s first selection, with Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, and Michael Keaton all reportedly being provided the position of Chili Palmer earlier than every turned it down. That mentioned, Travolta is in high type right here, bringing his trademark cool as solely he can whereas additionally demonstrating his comedic chops when the script requires it.

Associated: The Most Important John Travolta Moments in Films, Ranked

5 Face/Off (1997)

Touchstone Photos

In a nutshell, Face/Off is about an FBI agent (John Travolta) who undergoes secret facial transplant surgical procedure to imagine the id of his rival and felony mastermind (Nicolas Cage). He must masquerade as the person who killed his son in an effort to foil a terrorist plot. Issues go awry when the comatose felony wakes up prematurely and makes use of the identical process to secretly assume the id of the agent

Whereas the movie’s unfastened science leaves itself open to plot holes, this John Woo-directed motion thriller is a particularly enjoyable, white-knuckle experience, that includes among the biggest stylized motion sequences ever dedicated to movie. That is undoubtedly one among Travolta’s most unhinged, scenery-chomping performances so far, which is comprehensible when you think about that for many of Face/Off, he’s really portraying Nic Cage’s character, who’s extremely unhinged within the movie.

4 Saturday Night time Fever (1977)

John Travolta as Tony in Saturday Night Fever.
Paramount Photos

The film that made John Travolta one of many largest stars on the planet, Saturday Night time Fever was a cultural phenomenon. Not solely was it a significant vital and industrial success, nevertheless it additionally introduced disco music again into the limelight. The movie additional popularized disco around the globe, which may very well be thought-about each good or unhealthy.

Just about every part concerning the film has change into iconic, from the dance strikes to the Bee-Gees-driven soundtrack to the fantastically over-the-top costumes. The film itself is a cleverly-told however bleak portrayal of working-class life within the ’70s USA that tackles a plethora of poignant topics that features medicine, faith, poverty, suicide, sexual assault, and racism.

3 Blow Out (1981)

Filmways Photos

Nonetheless driving on the success of the mega-hits Grease and Saturday Night time Fever, Travolta subverted expectations considerably by opting to work with movie auteur Brian De Palma for his subsequent position. De Palma, on the time, was identified for engaged on extremely provocative motion pictures together with the erotic slasher Dressed to Kill and the now-iconic supernatural blood fest, Carrie.

Blow Out stars Travolta as Jack Terry, a film sound results technician from Philadelphia who, whereas recording sounds for a low-budget slasher movie, unintentionally captures audio proof of an assassination involving a high-profile political determine. The movie featured a singular idea that grew to become one among Quentin Tarantino’s all-time favorites and change into a common hit with critics. Regardless of the acclaim, the film carried out poorly on the field workplace, principally doubtless as a result of surprising shift in tone for Travolta and the awful ending.

2 Grease (1978)

Grease Travolta
Paramount Photos

If Saturday Night time Fever confirmed the world that John Travolta may do musicals, Grease cemented him because the king of musicals. The movie is about within the Fifties and follows the lives of ‘greaser’ Danny Zuko (Travolta) and Australian switch scholar Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) who develop an attraction for one another over the summer time holidays.

As soon as they’re again at highschool, their relationship turns into trickier to navigate resulting from their totally different backgrounds and peer teams. Regardless of a couple of problematic elements that don’t maintain up as nicely, the movie continues to be the proper instance of learn how to deliver a Broadway musical to the massive display with out dropping any of the power and magic of the stay present. Like Saturday Night time Fever, the movie touched on a number of vital points which can be nonetheless related as we speak, together with teenage being pregnant, peer stress, and gang violence.

1 Pulp Fiction (1994)

Uma Thurman and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction
Miramax Movies

Pulp Fiction is extensively thought to be one of many biggest motion pictures of all time and for good motive. Just about each side of the film is delivered to perfection, from the punchy dialogue suffering from popular culture references (nonetheless quoted by film buffs over 25 years later) to the twists and non-linear interweaving storylines and ironic mixture of humor and powerful violence.

Though most of that is all the way down to the author/director and his distinctive imaginative and prescient, it couldn’t have been executed as efficiently because it was with out one of many best casts of actors ever assembled. The viewers is handled to a masterclass in high quality performing from the likes of Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken, Samuel L Jackson, Harvey Keitel, Uma Thurman, Ving Rhames, Tim Roth, and John Travolta. Travolta, particularly, has been praised alongside Samuel L Jackson for his or her cooler-than-cool portrayals of two calm, collected, well-dressed hitmen.



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