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. A sequel, Grease 2, was released in 1982, starring Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer. Only a few of the original cast members reprised their roles. In the United States, it is the number #1 highest-grossing musical, to date.
Plot[edit | edit source]
In the summer of 1959, local boy Danny Zucco and vacationing Sandy Olsen 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. 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.
Cast[edit | edit source]
Principal cast John Travolta as Danny Zucco Olivia Newton-John as Sandy Olsen Jeff Conaway as Kenickie Stockard Channing as Betty Rizzo Barry Pearl as Doody Michael Tucci as Sonny Latierre Kelly Ward as Putzie Didi Conn as Frenchy Jamie Donnelly as Jan Dinah Manoff as Marty Maraschino School staff/others Eve Arden as Principal McGee Dody Goodman as Blanche Hodel Sid Caesar as Coach Calhoun 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 "Cha-Cha" DiGregorio Joan Blondell as Vi Ellen Travolta as Waitress Frankie Avalon as Teen Angel Edd Byrnes as Vince Fontaine Sha-Na-Na as Johnny Casino and the Gamblers Alice Ghostley as Mrs. Murdock Darrell Zwerling as Mr. Lynch Dick Patterson as Mr. Rudie Fannie Flagg as Nurse Wilkins Michael Biehn as Mike (uncredited)
Production[edit | edit source]
Casting Singer Olivia 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 pre-dated 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 failed miserably. 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. Two actors who were considered for leading roles in the film were Henry Winkler and Marie Osmond. 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. Osmond turned down the role of Sandy because she did not like the fact that Sandy had to "turn bad" to get the boy. 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 adult films, 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. Randal Kleiser directed John Travolta (who requested him for Grease) and Kelly Ward in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble two years prior to Grease. Additionally, he had previously worked (as an extra) alongside Frankie Avalon in 1966's Fireball 500.
The car race in the film took place at the L.A. River. 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 Pictures 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 movie 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.
Scenes inside the Frosty Palace contain obvious blurring of various Coca-Cola signs. Prior to the film's release, the producer Allan Carr had made a product-placement deal with Coca-Cola's main competitor Pepsi (for example, a Pepsi logo can be seen in the animated opening sequence). When Carr saw the footage of the scene with Coca-Cola products and signage, he ordered director Randal Kleiser to either reshoot the scene with Pepsi products or remove the Coca-Cola logos from the scene. As reshoots were deemed too expensive and time-consuming, optical mattes were used to cover up or blur out the Coca-Cola references. The 'blurring' covered up trademarked menu signage and a large wall poster, but a red cooler with the logo could not be sufficiently altered so was left unchanged. According to Kleiser, "We just had to hope that Pepsi wouldn't complain. They didn't." In the 2010 sing-along version (see below), the blurred Coke poster has been digitally removed. In its place is more of the wavy wall design that surrounded it. John Wilson did the animated title sequence for the start of the film.
Realease And Reception[edit | edit source]
Grease was originally released to theaters on June 16, 1978. It was released in the US on VHS during the 1980s; the last VHS release was on June 23, 1998 and titled the 20th Anniversary Edition following a theatrical re-release that March. On September 24, 2002, it was released on DVD for the first time. On September 19, 2006, it was re-released on DVD as the Rockin' Rydell Edition, which came with a black Rydell High T-Bird jacket cover, a white Rydell "R" letterman's sweater cover or the Target-exclusive Pink Ladies cover. It was released on Blu-ray Disc on May 5, 2009.
Commercially, Grease is box office success. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $8,941,717 in 862 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking #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. In the United States, it is the number #1 highest-grossing musical, to date.
Grease received mostly positive reviews from movie critics and is considered by many as one of the best films of 1978. It currently holds an 82% "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 '50s in a manner more elegant and more benign than anything that was ever made then, Grease is a multimillion-dollar evocation of the B-picture quickies that Sam Katzman used to turn out in the '50s (Don't Knock the Rock, 1957) 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 20th anniversary; this re-release contained (before and after the mastering) the old Viacom variation of the 1986 logo with the fanfare used on Black Rain, Wayne's World, The Accused, Pet Sematary, and Fatal Attraction; in turn this is similar to how the original master began with its original theme (accompanied with 1975 logo), which seems to be a horn re-orchestration of the intro to "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing". That version is shown on TV to this day, however a few select Viacom networks run the original master instead. The film was also ranked number 21 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies.
Sequels And Spin-offs[edit | edit source]
Grease 2 (1982) was a sequel to Grease starring Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer. As mentioned, only a few cast members from the original movie such as Dody Goodman, Sid Caesar, Eddie Deezen, Didi Conn, Dennis Stewart and Eve Arden reprise their respective roles. Dick Patterson returned, playing a different character. It was not nearly as successful, grossing just $15 million on its $13 million budget. Patricia Birch, the original movie's choreographer, directed the ill-fated sequel. It would be the only movie that she would direct. After the success of the original, Paramount intended to turn Grease into a multi-picture franchise with three sequels planned and a TV series down the road. When Grease 2 flopped at the box office, all the plans were scrapped. On July 8, 2010, a sing-along version of Grease was released to select theaters around the U.S. A trailer was released in May 2010 with cigarettes digitally removed from certain scenes, implying heavy editing; however, Paramount confirmed these changes were done only for the film's advertising, and the rating for the film itself changed from its original PG to that of PG-13 for "sexual content including references, teen smoking and drinking, and language." The movie was shown for two weekends only; additional cities lobbied by fans from the Paramount official website started a week later and screened for one weekend.
Soundtrack[edit | edit source]
he soundtrack album ended 1978 as the second-best selling album of the year in the United States, exceeded only by another soundtrack album, from the film Saturday Night Fever, which also starred Travolta. The song "Hopelessly Devoted to You" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music—Original Song. The song "You're the One That I Want" was released as a single prior to the film's release and became an immediate chart-topper, despite not being in the stage show or having been seen in the film at that time. Additionally, the dance number to "You're the One That I Want" was nominated for TV Land's award for "Movie Dance Sequence You Reenacted in Your Living Room" in 2008. In the United Kingdom, the two Travolta/Newton-John duets, "You're the One That I Want" and "Summer Nights", were both number one hits and as of 2011 are still among the 20 best-selling singles of all time (at Nos. 6 and 19 respectively). The movie's title song was also a number-one hit single for Frankie Valli. The song "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" references Sal Mineo in the original stage version. Mineo was stabbed to death a year before filming, so the line was changed to refer to Elvis Presley instead. The Troy Donahue reference is in the original stage version. Coincidentally, this scene, and the scene before and after that were filmed on August 16, 1977, the date of Elvis Presley's death. Some of the songs were not present in the film; songs that appear in the film but not in the soundtrack are "La Bamba" by Ritchie Valens, "Whole Lotta Shaking Going On" by Jerry Lee Lewis, "Alma Mater", "Alma Mater Parody", and "Rydell Fight Song". "Alone at a Drive-in Movie (instrumental)", "Mooning", and "Freddy My Love" are not present in the film, although all three are listed in the end credits in-addition to being on the soundtrack. The songs appear in the film in the following order: "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" "Grease" "Alma Mater" "Summer Nights" — Danny, Sandy, Pink Ladies and T-Birds "Rydell Fight Song" — Rydell Marching Band "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" — Rizzo and Pink Ladies "Alma Mater Parody" — T-Birds "Hopelessly Devoted to You" — Sandy "Greased Lightnin'" — Danny and T-Birds "La Bamba" "It's Raining on Prom Night" "Whole Lotta Shaking Going Going On" "Beauty School Dropout" — Teen Angel and Female Angels "Rock n' Roll Party Queen" "Rock n' Roll is Here to Stay" — Johnny Casino and the Gamblers "Those Magic Changes" — Johnny Casino and the Gamblers; Danny sings along onscreen "Tears on My Pillow" — Johnny Casino and the Gamblers "Hound Dog" — Johnny Casino and the Gamblers "Born to Hand Jive" — Johnny Casino and the Gamblers "Blue Moon" — Johnny Casino and the Gamblers "Sandy" — Danny "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" — Rizzo "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee (Reprise)" — Sandy "You're the One That I Want" — Danny, Sandy, Pink Ladies, and T-Birds "We Go Together" — Cast "Grease (Reprise)"
Trivia[edit | edit source]
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.