Grease is a 1978 American musical film directed by Randal Kleiser and produced by Paramount Pictures. It is based on Warren Casey's and Jim Jacobs's 1971 musical of the same name about two lovers in a 1950s high school. The film stars John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, and Jeff Conaway. It was successful both critically and at the box office; its soundtrack album ended 1978 as the second-best selling album of the year in the United States, behind the soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever, another film starring Travolta.
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In the summer of 1958, local boy Danny Zuko and vacationing Sandy Olsson meet at the beach and fall in love. When the summer comes to an end, Sandy—who is going back to Australia—frets that they may never meet again, but Danny tells her that their love is "only the beginning". The film moves to the start of the seniors' term at Rydell High School. Danny, a greaser, is a member of the T-Birds, consisting of his best friend Kenickie, Doody, Sonny, and Putzie. The Pink Ladies also arrive, consisting of Rizzo, Frenchy, Marty, and Jan. After her parents decided not to return to Australia, Sandy enrolls at Rydell and befriends Frenchy, who considers dropping out of school to become a beautician. Oblivious to each other's presence at school, Danny and Sandy tell their respective groups the accounts of events during the pair's brief romance.
Upon learning Danny is Sandy's sweetheart, Rizzo arranges for the two to reunite, but Danny is forced to maintain his bad-boy attitude in front of his pals, upsetting Sandy. Frenchy invites the girls to a pajama party, but Sandy falls ill from trying a cigarette and drinking. The T-Birds almost crash the party in Kenickie's Greased Lightning car, but a guilty Danny leaves, followed by Rizzo, who departs to make out with Kenickie, who is actually her boyfriend. The two are disturbed by Leo, leader of the T-Birds' rival gang, the Scorpions, and his girlfriend Cha-Cha, leading to a planned race between Kenickie and Leo. Wishing to win his way back into Sandy's affection, Danny turns to Coach Calhoun to get into sports, eventually becoming a runner. He reunites with Sandy and they attempt to go on a date, but their friends crash it, resulting in Kenickie and Rizzo arguing and parting. Left alone, Frenchy is visited by a guardian angel who advises her to return to school after a mishap in beauty class leaves her with candy-pink hair.
The school dance arrives, broadcast live on television and hosted by DJ Vince Fontaine, who flirts with Marty. Rizzo and Kenickie attempt to spite one another by bringing Leo and Cha-Cha as their dates, while Danny and Sandy come together. Kenickie humiliates Patty Simcox by lifting her dress up in front of the whole school. During a dance, Danny and Cha-Cha (who were once boyfriend and girlfriend) perform together and win a dance-off. Danny tries to make it up to Sandy by taking her to a drive-in theater but ends up making several passes on her, causing Sandy to flee. Meanwhile, Rizzo fears she is pregnant after missing a period and confides to Marty, but Sonny overhears and spreads the rumor which eventually reaches Kenickie who is the potential father.
The race arrives, but Kenickie is knocked out by his own car door thanks to the careless behavior of his friend Putzie, so Danny takes up the challenge. He and Leo race until Leo crashes and leaves humiliated, with Danny as the victor. Sandy watches from afar, concluding she still loves Danny and decides to change her attitude and look to impress him. On the last day of school, while Principal McGee and her assistant Blanche sob about the departing class, the class celebrates their graduation at the fair on the school grounds. Rizzo discovers she is not pregnant after all and reunites with Kenickie. Danny has become a jock, but is shocked when Sandy appears dressed in leather and is seen smoking. In song, the two admit they love each other and reunite. The film ends with Danny and Sandy departing in the Greased Lightning car together, which then takes flight, and the pair waves goodbye to their friends. The film ends with credits in the style of a yearbook. This is extremely effective and leaves us hungry for a seque.
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- Pink Ladies
- Stockard Channing as Betty Rizzo
- Didi Conn as Frenchy
- Jamie Donnelly as Jan
- Dinah Manoff as Marty Maraschino
- Eddie Deezen as Eugene Felsnic
- Susan Buckner as Patty Simcox
- Lorenzo Lamas as Tom Chisum
- Dennis C. Stewart as Leo Balmudo
- Annette Charles as Charlene DiGregorio
- School staff
- Eve Arden as Principal McGee
- Dody Goodman as Blanche Hodel
- Sid Caesar as Coach Calhoun
- Alice Ghostley as Mrs. Murdock
- Darrell Zwerling as Mr.Lynch
- Dick Patterson as Mr. Rudie
- Fannie Flagg as Nurse Wilkins
- Joan Blondell as Vi
- Ellen Travolta as Waitress
- Frankie Avalon as Teen Angel
- Edd Byrnes as Vince Fontaine
- Sha-Na-Na as Johnny Casino & The Gamblers
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Singer Newton-John, cast at Travolta's urging, had done little acting before this film. She appeared in the 1970 film Toomorrow, a science fiction musical that predated her initial chart success with 1971's "If Not for You". Cast with Newton-John and three male leads in an attempt by Don Kirshner to create another Monkees, the film was never released commercially. This led Newton-John to demand a screen test for Grease to avoid another career setback. The screen test was done with the drive-in movie scene.
Henry Winkler was once considered for a lead in the film. Winkler, who was playing Fonzie on Happy Days, was originally chosen to play Danny, but having twice already played similarly leather-clad 1950s hoods in 1974's The Lords of Flatbush as well as Happy Days, turned down the role for fear of being typecast, so actor John Travolta (who had recently completed Saturday Night Fever), was cast instead. Adult film star Harry Reems was originally signed to play Coach Calhoun;however, executives at Paramount nixed the idea due to Reems' previous work in pornography, and producers cast Sid Caesar instead. Caesar was one of several veterans of 1950s television (Eve Arden, Frankie Avalon, Joan Blondell, Edd Byrnes, Alice Ghostley, Dody Goodman) to be cast in supporting roles.
Lucie Arnaz was under serious consideration to play Rizzo, but Arnaz says she chose to keep a theater commitment due to the lack of guaranteed support from Paramount's Michael Eisner. Randal Kleiser directed Travolta (who requested him for Grease) and Kelly Ward in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble two years prior to Grease.
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The opening beach scene was shot at Malibu's Leo Carrillo State Beach, making explicit reference to From Here to Eternity. The exterior Rydell scenes, including the basketball, baseball, and track segments, were shot at Venice High School in Venice, California, while the Rydell interiors, including the high school dance, were filmed at Huntington Park High School. The sleepover was shot at a private house in East Hollywood. The Paramount studio lot was the location of the scenes that involve Frosty Palace and the musical numbers "Greased Lightning" and "Beauty School Dropout". The drive-in scenes were shot at the Burbank Pickwick Drive-In (it was closed and torn down in 1989 and a shopping center took its place). The race was filmed at the Los Angeles River, between the First and Seventh Street Bridges, where many other films have been shot.The final scene where the carnival took place used John Marshall High School.
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Commercially, Grease was an immediate box office success during the summer of 1978. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $8,941,717 in 862 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, ranking at No. 2 (behind Jaws 2) at the box office. Grease has grossed $188,755,690 domestically and $206,200,000 internationally, totaling $394,955,690 worldwide.
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Grease received mostly positive reviews from critics and is considered by many as one of the best films of 1978. As of October 2015, Grease held an 78% "Certified Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes with a consensus that reads "Grease is a pleasing, energetic musical with infectiously catchy songs and an ode to young love that never gets old."It holds a score of 70/100 on a similar website Metacritic.
Vincent Canby called the film
"terrific fun", describing it as a "contemporary fantasy about a 1950s teen-age musical, a larger, funnier, wittier and more imaginative-than-Hollywood movie with a life that is all its own"; Canby pointed out that the film was "somewhat in the manner of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which recalls the science-fiction films of the 1950s in a manner more elegant and more benign than anything that was ever made then, Grease is a multi-million-dollar evocation of the B-picture quickies that Sam Katzman used to turn out in the '50s (Don't Knock the Rock, 1956) and that American International carried to the sea in the 1960s (Beach Party, 1963)."
Grease was voted the best musical ever on Channel 4's 100 greatest musicals. In 2008, the film was selected by Empire magazine as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.
Grease was re-released to theaters in 1998 to mark the twentieth anniversary; this re-release contained (before and after the mastering) the old Viacom variation of the 1986 logo; in turn, this is similar to how the original master began with its original theme (accompanied with 1975 logo). That version is shown on TV to this day, however a few Viacom networks run the original master instead. The film was also ranked No. 21 on Entertainment Weekly´s list of the 50 Best High School Movies.
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|1978||Grease||Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
|John Travolta||Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
|Olivia Newton-John||Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
|"Grease"||Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song||Nominated|
|"You're the One That I Want"||Nominated|
|"Hopelessly Devoted to You"||Academy Award for Best Original Song||Nominated|
|1979||CIC||Golden Screen Award||Won|
|Stockard Channing||People's Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture Supporting Actress||Won|
|Olivia Newton-John||People's Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture Actress||Won|
|Grease||People's Choice Award for Favorite Musical Motion Picture||Won|
|Grease||People's Choice Award for Favorite Overall Motion Picture||Won|
|2006||Grease||Satellite Award for Best Classic DVD||Nominated|
|2008||"You're the One That I Want"||TV Land Award for Movie Dance Sequence You Reenacted in Your Living Room||Nominated|
American Film Institute RecognitionEdit
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- American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions: No. 97
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs: No. 70 for "Summer Nights"
- AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals: No. 20
- Henry Winkler, who became a sensation as "Fonzie" on "Happy Days", was considered for the role of Danny Zuko. However, he turned down the role for fear of being typecast.
- Susan Dey and Deborah Raffin were the first choices for the role of Sandy (Dey declined the role after her manager advised against it). Marie Osmond later claimed on "Larry King Live" that she had been also been offered the role but declined "on moral grounds" though she later admitted this to be untrue.
- Due to a zipper breaking, Olivia Newton-John had to be sewn into the trousers she wears in the last sequence (the carnival at Rydell).
- Jeff Conaway (6' 1½" (1.87 m)) had to walk slightly stooped so that John Travolta (6' 2" (1.88 m)) would appear taller.
- Set in high school, most of the principal cast were way past their teenage years. When filming began in June 1977, John Travolta was 23, Olivia Newton-John was 28, Stockard Channing was 33, Jeff Conaway was 26, Barry Pearl was 27, Michael Tucci was 31, Kelly Ward was 20, Didi Conn was 25; Jamie Donnelly was 30, and Annette Charles was 29. Only Dinah Manoff, Lorenzo Lamas, and Eddie Deezen, all 19, were still teenagers.
- Randal Kleiser hated the song "You're The One That I Want" saying it "sounded awful".
- "You're the One That I Want" took just one afternoon to film.
- When Olivia Newton-John was cast as Sandy, her character's background had to be changed to accommodate Newton-John's own background. In the original Broadway musical Sandy was an all-American girl and her last name was Dumbrowski. In the movie version, she became Sandy Olsson, foreign-exchange student from Australia. Also, because of Newton-John's casting, John Farrar (Newton-John's frequent songwriter) had to write two new songs for the film while other songs from the Broadway musical were dropped.
- Although cut from the movie, The Alma Mater/Parody instrumental from the stage version can be heard in the office on the last day and during the carnival scenes.
- Several musical numbers were not used in the film. They appear, however, as jukebox tunes, or band numbers at the high school dance. Among them "Freddy, My Love", "Those Magic Changes", and "It's Raining on Prom Night" all of which were performed by characters in the stage musical.
- Carrie Fisher was considered for the role of Rizzo.
- For a time, it was the third highest-grossing movie of all time behind only "Jaws" and "Star Wars".
- It was released again in theaters in 1998 for a couple of reasons: to mark the 20th anniversary of the original and because the year before, a dance mix of songs from the soundtrack became a big hit on radio.
- The film was released in Spain and Latin America as Brillantina (Brilliantine) - because its English title translated as "Grasa" or "fat" in Spanish.
- Danny's blue windbreaker at the beginning of the film was intended as a nod to "Rebel Without a Cause".
- The original stage play had more sexual references than the censors wanted to allow. Among these was the use of plastic wrap as protection. To overcome the censors, there weren't any blatant references but Danny rubs plastic wrap over his crotch during "Greased Lightning".
- The scene in Frenchy's bedroom while Rizzo is singing the line about Elvis was actually filmed the same day that Elvis Presley died.
- The final musical scene, "You're the One That I Want" was filmed with the help of a traveling carnival. However, director Randal Kleiser decided the next day that additional scenes were needed for close-ups. Unfortunately the carnival had left town so set decorators were called in to build replica backgrounds, that matched the carnival ride's construction for the close-ups.
- Randal Kleiser hated the opening title song, "Grease" (he thought that the cynical lyrics and disco beat were inappropriate for a film set in the 1950s).
- The dance contest scene was filmed during the summer, when the school was closed. The gym had no air conditioning and the doors had to be kept closed to control lighting, so the building became stifling hot. On more than one occasion, an extra had to be taken out due to heat-related illness.
- Choreographer Patricia Birch worked with Sha-Na-Na to ensure that the tempo of the dance contest would be correct. She appears, uncredited, as one of the dancers during the contest.
- In the scene where the cast are near the bridge after the car race, the water on the ground was stagnant and dangerous. Some cast members became ill from filming as the setting was a derelict place full of dirt and rubbish.
- Harry Reems was originally signed to play Coach Calhoun. Producers got cold feet (for fear of his adult movie notoriety) weeks before filming and replaced him with Sid Caesar. Prosecuted by the federal government in 1976 on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute obscenity across state lines, Reems was convicted, but the conviction was overturned on appeal one year later.
- The official premiere after-party was at Studio 54.
- The production had a product placement plan with Coca-Cola, but it fell through. The Coke products were taken out or blurred. There is a huge hanging picture/advertisement in the diner that was blurred out. Photos on the inside flaps of the soundtrack album have Pepsi products.
- Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, who wrote the original stage play, were originally supposed to serve as executive producers of the film but got kicked off the set by Allen Carr. Patricia Birch who was choreographer on the Broadway stage continued her role in the movie version and the film original song "Sandy" was co-written by Louis St. Louis who wrote some songs used in the film.
- Originated in Chicago at the Kingston Mines Theatre, of which authors Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey were acting ensemble members. It opened on the 5 February 1971, and cast members Marilu Henner, who played Marty, and James Canning, who played Doody, went on to play those roles on Broadway. Others in the cast were Sue Williams (Rizzo), Bruce Hickey (Kenickie), Bill Cervetti (Miller), Sheila Ray Ceaser (Jan), Hedda Lubin (Frenchy), Polly Pen (Patti), Leslie Goto (Sandi), Doug Stevnson (Danny), Gerald Bolnick (Sonny), and Gary Houston (Roger). Guy Barile directed and Ronna Kaye choreographed the production, and Wrick Paul (aka Rick Paul) was set designer. The rock-and-roll band that accompanied the show, led by Michael Williams, was called Sex Nellie, and Love.
- "Greased Lightning" was supposed to be sung by Jeff Conaway's character, Kenickie, as it is in the stage version. John Travolta used his clout to have his character sing it. The director felt it was only right to ask Conaway if it was okay. At first he refused, but he eventually gave in.
- Rizzo's hickeys were real. Stockard Channing said in an interview that Jeff Conaway insisted on applying them himself.
- The original Broadway production opened at the Eden Theater on February 14, 1972 and ran for 3,388 performances, setting a record. Adrienne Barbeau and Barry Bostwick were in the original Broadway cast. John Travolta appeared at some time as a replacement on Broadway in the role of "Doody". Marilu Henner, an alumna of the original Chicago production, appeared as a replacement in the role of "Marty". Patrick Swayze and Treat Williams were both replacements as Danny Zuko. Richard Gere is also listed as an understudy to many male roles, including Danny Zuko. Gere played Zuko in the London production in 1973.
- Randal Kleiser shot a scene of Kenickie and Rizzo getting into a heated argument, which explained their attitude towards each other in the diner scene (where Rizzo threw the malt at Kenickie). The fight scene was cut because it didn't match the tone of the rest of the film; it was much grittier, described by one crew member as "looking like something Martin Scorsese might have directed."
- "Hopelessly Devoted To You" was written and recorded after the movie had wrapped. The producers felt they needed a strong ballad and had Olivia Newton-John come back to film her singing this song. This song ended up receiving an Academy Award nomination.
- One of the session drummers for the recording session was Cubby O'Brien, one of the original Mouseketeers on TV's "The Mickey Mouse Club".
- Stockard Channing was not the first choice for the role of Rizzo; Lucie Arnaz was allegedly dropped from consideration when her mother, Lucille Ball, called Paramount and said, "I used to own that studio; my daughter's not doing a screen test!" (Ball actually owned the studio Desilu which was bought by Paramount). The part went to Channing when the casting director remembered seeing her with Lucie in the play, "Vanities" at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles (the third member of the cast was Sandy Duncan).
- Jeff Conaway stated in an episode of "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" that while filming the scene/song "Greased Lightning" he was dropped by his fellow cast members and injured his back leading to his addiction to prescription painkillers.
- Jeff Conaway once played Danny Zuko on Broadway.
- The original Broadway production of "Grease" opened at the Eden Theater on February 14, 1972 and ran for 3388 performances breaking the previous record set by "Fiddler on the Roof". This production was also nominated for a 1972 Tony Award for Best Musical. The original Broadway production is the thirteenth longest running show ever.
- Rydell High is a reference to teen idol Bobby Rydell who had a million selling hit with "Swingin' School" in 1960.
- Randal Kleiser felt the stream of consciousness lyrics Barry Gibb wrote for the opening theme were quite out of place and inappropriate for the light and fun movie he was making. But with Barry Gibb and his Bee Gee Brothers riding high with the Robert Stigwood organization from the "Saturday Night Fever" success and Kleiser being a young upstart director, he felt he had no clout to ask for any changes.
- Despite the fact that "Laserblast" is predominantly known as Eddie Deezen's acting debut, "Grease" was filmed first.
- Nancy Kyes was considered for the role of Rizzo.
- For the new Broadway revival, the song "Since I Don't Have You" was added to the score due to Warren Casey's death.
- In the stage play, the song "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" had a reference to Sal Mineo, who was murdered in 1976, year before film was shot. So the lyric for movie (shot in summer 1977) was changed to an Elvis Presley reference, who ironically was also dead by the time of the film's release in 1978.
- The highest-grossing movie of 1978.
- Olivia Newton-John requested to have a screen test before she accepted the role of Sandy. The director Randal Kleiser agreed and they shot the 'drive-in movie' scene with Danny and Sandy as a trial. Newton-John was pleased and went on with filming. It;s also said that Danny and Sandy got married and had 3 kids after graduating Rydell Hgh.
- When the film was re-issued in 1998 the diner scenes were heavily censored and had distorted the Coca-Cola posters. This is due to Pepsi sponsoring the film in 1978, and the fact that Paramount used a film print and not the original negatives. The movie was re-issued in a sing-a-long format in 2010 and had digitally removed the blurred posters, then in 2018 the movie was remastered from its original negatives and the posters were replaced with 1950s Pepsi-Cola posters.