Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway
Release Date: June 16, 1978
Running Time: 110 min
Genres: Comedy, Musical, Romance
Commentary Grease is one of my favorite musical movies. I also love the stage version, with many of the same songs. Grease was written in the '70s as a tribute to the '50s. Besides the excellent 1950s-style music, the story is also quite entertaining. The acting in the movie is also very well done. One criticism I've heard about the movie is that the actors, who portray teenagers, are really much older, mainly around thirty or so, but this has never bothered me. In fact, I'm sure I wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much if they'd used real teenagers, since I doubt teens could deliver such a flawless performance. Besides, it didn't hurt at all to use big name celebrities such as John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John!
Plot Summary Grease takes place at Rydell High, a typical fictitious American high school, in 1959. Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) meet at the beach on summer vacation before attending high school. Sandy is visiting from Australia, where she is supposed to return in the fall (springtime down under). The two develop a teenage romance which lasts the whole summer. Then, to both of their surprises, they discover that they're attending the same school. Their teenage romance turns sour a few times, but they manage to work things out. The movie also follows several other students, including Kenickie (Jeff Conaway), Rizzo (Stockard Channing), the T-birds and the Pink Ladies. In the end, everyone leaves school very happily.
Music The music from the original Broadway play was written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Many of the songs from the play also appear in the movie, along with a few others written by John Farrar as well as the title song by Barry Gibb. Songs from the movie include the following:
"Grease" (theme song) by Barry Gibb
"Summer Nights" by John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, and Cast
"Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" by Stockard Channing
"Hopelessly Devoted to You" by Olivia Newton-John
"Greased Lightning" by John Travolta and Jeff Conaway
"Beauty School Dropout" by Franky Avalon
"Sandy" by John Travolta
"You're the One That I Want" by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
"We Go Together" by John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, and Cast
Cultural Significance Grease is part of the '50s revival which began in the early '70s with the immensely popular movie American Graffiti and long-running TV show "Happy Days". Though I've never been a huge fan of the '50s (I've always been a much bigger fan of the '60s!), I love how it's portrayed in Grease. I mainly love the music. Oldies from the '50s and '60s made a big comeback in the '70s and thereafter in part because of movies like Grease. The music from Grease has also remained quite popular. I often hear "Summer Nights" performed to karaoke and even performed it once myself, though I must confess I didn't sound anything like John Travolta!
Fantasy Sequences Grease has three fantasy sequences, which add to its magical appeal.
In the middle of the T-birds' performance of "Greased Lightning", we're switched from Kenickie's garage, where the T-birds are trying to fix up his dilapidated white car, to a highly idealized repair shop with a beautiful red sports car, which they proceed to work on through the remainder of the song.
Frenchy's guardian angel, played by Frankie Avalon, visits her in the diner after closing time. In a very amusing scene, he briefly takes her to beauty school heaven to the tune of "Beauty School Dropout", pleading for her to quit beauty school and return to high school.
At the very end of the movie, Danny and Sandy drive off together in the red convertible shown in the first fantasy sequence. The car ends up flying, to the couple's initial surprise. As they disappear into the clouds, they look back at their friends, who recede in the distance. To me, this represents them looking back fondly at their high school years as they move on with their lives into the unknown.
Here's the trailer for the 20th anniversary release.
Here's the opening with the theme song.
Here's the classic performance of "Summer Nights".
Here's Stockard Channing's performance of "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee".
Here's Olivia's performance of "Hopelessly Devoted to You"
Here's the T-Birds performance of "Greased Lightning".
Here's Franky Avalon's performance of "Beauty School Dropout".
Here's John Travolta's performance of "Sandy" at the drive-in.
Here's the performance of "You're the One That I Want".
Here's the performance of "We Go Together" at the end of the film.