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“Radio” Days

05/26/2012

by Glenn Lovell

When news arrived of Donna Summer’s cruel passing at age 63, I reached for my Summer Greatest Hits CD. But I didn’t play the thumping disco anthems “Last Dance” and “Love to Love You, Baby.” I went to the swoony “On the Radio,” her Casablanca collab with Giorgio Moroder that was used in the mostly forgotten “Foxes” (1980), co-starring the 17-year-old Jodie Foster as one of four vaguely rebellious Valley girls and Sally Kellerman as Foster’s lost, unassertive single mom.

Directed by Brit Adrian Lyne (“Fatal Attraction”) from a script by Gerald Ayres, “Foxes” is very definitely a guilty pleasure, much like “Cat People,” “Flashdance” and other films wed to the pulsating synthesized sound of Moroder. Still, for all its dated, Day-Glo glitz — think skateboards and Scott Baio in cutoffs — there’s something achingly sad about “Foxes,” and much of the credit for this belongs to the dreamy photography, Cherie Currie as the most at-risk of the high school clique … and Summer’s yearning rendition of “On the Radio,” at least the piano prelude ‒

          Someone found a letter you wrote me, on the radio

          And they told the world just how you felt

          It must have fallen out of a hole in your old brown overcoat

          They never said your name

          But I knew just who you meant

Yes, “Foxes” — set in a San Fernando Valley P.T. Anderson would never recognize — is one for the time capsule, but, for a few of us, Summer’s lilting “On the Radio” will remain timeless.


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