1978’s Grease, in many eyes, is a classic film. It is adored by all ages, and it seemingly passes down from generation to generation with love. This is one of the first movies I remember that have a sense of nostalgia. This movie plays well with the baby boomers because it harkens back to the 1950’s, when love was swamped in innocence. This movie got the feel of the 1950’s correct, I have been told. The clothing, the background music, the charm, the acting, and the overall look of the movie. The actual songs are 1970’s rock’n’roll style, and they are wonderful songs. The tone of the movie is upbeat, fun, and innocent. It may be somewhat predictable, but the movie itself was made well.
There are a variety of reasons why I enjoy this movie. From the interpretation of the 1950’s lifestyle to the wonderful tunes to the themes of true love-all of it elevates this movie into ‘classic’ territory. However, I am irked by a few things though. Mainly the age of the cast. Don’t get me wrong, I think the performances are wonderful, but I despise when movies cast people in their late 20’s or early 30’s to play teenagers. Now some films can get away with it, but not Grease. You can tell that the people in the cast are not teenagers. Check out these ages at the time of movie release. John Travolta was 24, Olivia Newton-John was 30, and Stockard Channing was 34!!! But who am I to complain. This movie gave Travolta and Newton-John the career boost they needed.
As for the story, it’s nothing new. The story is one that has been told to death, but it is all about how a story is told that can make or break a movie. This love story was told with a passion thanks to the high-spirited screenplay from Bronte Woodard and the energizing direction from Randall Kleiser. This musical starts off at a California beach in 1959. Complete opposite personalities have fallen in love. Greaser Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and an Australian chick Sandy Olsson (Olivia-Newton John). After a summer romance expecting not to see each other again, both of them attend Rydell High unbeknownst to each other. They do their own things at first. Danny is a leader of a gang of greasers called the T-Birds and Sandy joins the Pink Ladies, led by the charming Rizzo (Stockard Channing). When they run in to each other for the first time, Sandy realizes Danny is a different man from the one she met at the beach. But will that stop her from getting back with Danny? Well, just watch the movie! 😉
Despite my concerns on the ages of the cast, I cannot deny how effective the performances are. In particular, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Travolta eventually became a major movie star, thanks to this movie. He knows how to sing and dance very well for an actor. It seems like he models his character off Elvis Presley. With the hairstyle and the black leather jacket, he seems to be Elvis-lite. He exerts fantastic chemistry with Olivia-Newton John. She also sang very well and her performance as the new girl in town is excellent. I liked the supporting cast very much. Stockard Channing did a solid job as the sex-happy leader of the Pink Ladies. Jeff Conaway as Danny’s right-hand man, Kenickie. There are some veteran cast members who did a fine job particularly Eve Arden as Principal McGee and Sid Caesar as Coach Calhoun.
I was most impressed with Grease. I remember seeing it as a little kid and enjoying the music. But as a young adult, it resonates with me because it reminds me of my high school days. The music is great and most of these songs will stick in your brain for a lifetime. Such numbers to keep an eye out for are “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” and “You’re The One That I Want.” The former song actually went on to be nominated for an Oscar. This film is all about song and dance. Two of my favorite sequences include the ballroom dance scene which was being filmed for national television and it features some slick dance moves. My other favorite scene is the ending dance sequence at the school’s carnival. Very fun! On the whole, this film is upbeat, sweet, and a film to remember.
My Grade: A-