From Grease to Pulp Fiction: The Best John Travolta Movies

John Travolta is one of those actors that seems to redefine himself after every decade. No other actor seems to possess the same level of range, allowing him to play both dramatic roles and goofy comedic ones with ease. This list will countdown what we believe to be the best John Travolta movies.

Pulp Fiction

two men in car
Image Credit: Miramax.

Pulp Fiction is one of director Quentin Tarantino’s most well-known and loved films. The story revolves around two gangsters, Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield, who must recover a stolen briefcase and return it to their boss, Marsellus Wallace. Along the way, they face several challenges, including the advances of Wallace’s wife, Mia.

Tarantino’s eccentric mastery is on full display in Pulp Fiction. The story is anthological, like Tarantino’s favorite pulp magazines. He also revived John Travolta‘s career by casting him as Vincent Vega. Vega is a fun-loving guy who always has bathroom mishaps. Ironically, after he uses the bathroom, Mia overdoses on heroin, the robbery occurs, and Butch eventually kills him.

Travolta danced his way back into mainstream Hollywood with the character of Vincent Vega. His performance perfectly captures the essence of Tarantino’s film – a mix of humor, violence, and suspense. Thanks to Tarantino’s creative direction and Travolta’s mesmerizing performance, Pulp Fiction has become a household name.

Image Credit: Miramax.

Grease

man and woman with heads together in john travolta movies
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Who doesn’t love a good teen musical? Grease is a timeless classic that has charmed audiences for decades. The story of Danny and Sandy’s summer romance is heartwarming and heartbreaking. While Sandy tries to reconnect with Danny after they both attend Rydell High, he rejects her to maintain his image as a cool greaser.

This film is a cult favorite for many reasons, but one of the most iconic elements is John Travolta’s performance as Danny. His energy and swagger are infectious, and his dance moves are unforgettable. Even though things don’t work out between Danny and Sandy in the end, their story will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Primary Colors

man standing at podium smiling
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The 1992 presidential campaign was a tense and emotional time for many Americans. The election was a close race, and the stakes were high. Despite all this, a new book called “Anonymous” caused quite a stir. The book was a roman-à-clef about Bill Clinton’s campaigning, full of juicy details about his personal life.

Many people felt that the book was unfair and invaded Clinton’s privacy. However, the book was also a bestseller and inspired a film adaptation starring John Travolta. Travolta’s performance earned him the nickname “Clintonian.” The film won several awards for Kathy Bates’s performance, including a SAG award.

Although it may have caused some controversy, there’s no denying that Primary Colors was an essential part of the 1992 presidential campaign and easily makes the list of the best John Travolta movies.

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Hairspray

women in red dress dancing on stage
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

In Hairspray, John Travolta played the role of Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mother. It was a groundbreaking gender-bending role for Travolta, and he received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. Travolta brought his signature charm to the role and received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Edna.

While Hairspray is set in the 1960s, the film’s message is still relevant today. The story centers on Tracy Turnblad, a dancing enthusiast who breaks down traditional dance barriers and becomes an instant sensation. Her success and ability to unseat the show’s current lead, Amber, would increase diversity and representation.

Travolta’s performance as Edna is an integral part of the film, and his portrayal of a drag mother is one of the movie’s many highlights.

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Urban Cowboy

man in cowboy hat
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

In the film Urban Cowboy, Bud Davis (John Travolta) is a young man from a small town who moves to Pasadena, Texas, to work in the oil industry. There he meets Sissy (Debra Winger), a cowgirl who believes in gender equality.

The two fall in love and get married, but their relationship is quickly strained by Bud’s old-fashioned views on gender roles. Misunderstandings and conflict arise when Bud’s rival tries to seduce Sissy. To win back her favor, Bud enters a mechanical bull-riding competition.

The film was adapted from an Esquire magazine article, providing a realistic portrayal of a marriage full of ups and downs. Travolta’s character is not always likable, but his chemistry with Winger is excellent. While some viewers may find the constant fighting between the couple draining, others will appreciate the film’s honest portrayal of a strained relationship.

Whether you love or hate Bud Davis, you can’t deny that John Travolta brings charisma and charm to this urban cowboy.

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Get Shorty

man and women with small man standing outside
Image Credit: Metro Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.

In the movie Get Shorty, John Travolta plays the role of Chili Palmer, a loan shark sent to collect a debt from Hollywood producer Harry Zimm. While Palmer is initially reluctant to get involved in the movie business, he quickly realizes many similarities between his job as a loan shark and Zimm’s job as a producer.

In particular, both jobs involve making deals with difficult people and managing large amounts of money. Moreover, as Palmer gets to know Zimm, he also begins to see the potential for making a movie about his own life story. Ultimately, Travolta’s portrayal of Chili Palmer is a funny and insightful satire of both the Hollywood movie business and the mafia.

Image Credit: Metro Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.

Carrie

man and woman in car
Image Credit: United Artists.

In director Brian DePalma’s 1974 adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie, Sissy Spacek plays the title role of Carrie White, a high school girl with telekinetic powers who unleashes them on her tormentors after being pushed too far. Spacek is excellent in the role, convincingly conveying Carrie’s emotional journey from a shy, withdrawn girl to a vengeful woman.

Her performance is matched by that of John Travolta, who is absolutely despicable and vile as the school bully Billy Nolan. Along with his girlfriend, Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen), Billy makes Carrie’s life a living hell, physically and emotionally bullying her. So it’s no surprise that when Carrie finally snaps, she takes bloody revenge on both Billy and Chris.

While DePalma’s film is sometimes criticized for its graphic violence, there’s no denying it’s a masterfully directed and well-acted horror classic.

Image Credit: United Artists.

Face/off

two men at desk
Image Credit: Paramount PIctures.

In the action-packed thriller Face/Off, Sean Archer (played by John Travolta) becomes consumed with revenge after a terrorist’s bullet kills his son and leaves him critically injured. To find the culprit, Archer undergoes a risky face transplant procedure to assume the identity of his enemy, Castor Troy (played by Nicholas Cage).

However, as the two men wage a deadly game of cat and mouse, they realize there may be more to their relationship than meets the eye. With its twists and turns, Face/Off will keep viewers on the edge of their seats until the very end.

Though some may find the film’s premise far-fetched, Travolta and Cage give electrifying performances that make this movie well worth watching.

Image Credit: Paramount PIctures.

Blow Out

man and woman sitting
Image Credit: IMDb.

Jack Terry’s sound doesn’t meet his director’s standards for a slasher film. While researching the perfect scream, he sees a car fall off a bridge into a river. He saves Sally, but a governor running for president dies. As he investigates the tapes, he gets involved in a dangerous relationship with Sally and dark conspiracies.

It’s about filmmaking and sound effects. The ending scene is gruesome and horrifying as the director applauds Jack’s work while recoiling in disgust at Sally’s screams. Travolta’s Jack Terry is well-balanced. The film’s cynicism and sick political motives for murder and sex leave a lasting impression.

The dark underbelly of America is on full display, and it’s not pretty. If you’re looking for a deep, thought-provoking film, look no further than Blow Out.

Image Credit: IMDb.

Saturday Night Fever

man in the dark john travolta movies
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

One of the classic John Travolta movies, Saturday Night Fever is the story of Tony Manero and his escape from the brutal reality of his life in Brooklyn, New York, is timeless. Travolta’s captivating performance as the young Italian-American man who finds solace in dance is electric. The film is filled with intensity and passion, and Travolta’s performance is the glue that holds it all together.

While the film deals with some heavy topics, such as racial discrimination and sexual assault, Travolta’s charm and charisma help to lighten the mood and keep the audience engaged. His performance is truly mesmerizing, and it is impossible to take your eyes off him whenever he is on screen.

If you’re looking for a powerful and moving film that will stay with you long after seeing it, look no further than Saturday Night Fever. Thanks largely to John Travolta’s unforgettable performance, it is a film that truly deserves its place in cinematic history.

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Final Thoughts on the Best John Travolta Movies

John Travolta has had an illustrious career in Hollywood, with some of his best work coming after his biggest hits in the 70s. We’ve highlighted ten of our favorite John Travolta movies, but there are certainly more that could have made the list.

The only thing left to do is pop some popcorn, get yourself a cold drink, and enjoy one of these classics. It doesn’t matter what type of movie fan you are, John Travolta has made movies of all genres, and his extensive works have something for everyone.