Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Randal Kleiser|
|Produced by||Robert Stigwood
|Screenplay by||Bronte Woodard
by Jim Jacobs
|Music by||Michael Gibson (score)
|Edited by||John F. Burnett
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$395 million|
Grease is a 1978 American musical romantic comedy film directed by Randal Kleiser and produced by Paramount Pictures. It is based on Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs' 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. Grease was successful both critically and commercially. 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'
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Release and reception
- 5 Soundtrack
- 6 Television
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
In the summer of 1958, local boy Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and vacationing Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) met at the beach and fell 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 ("Grease"). Danny, a greaser, is a member of the T-Birds, consisting of his best friend Kenickie (Jeff Conaway), Doody (Barry Pearl), Sonny (Michael Tucci), and Putzie (Kelly Ward). The Pink Ladies, a popular clique of girls, also arrive, consisting of Rizzo (Stockard Channing), Frenchy (Didi Conn), Marty (Dinah Manoff), and Jan (Jamie Donnelly).
After her parents decide not to return to Australia, Sandy enrolls at Rydell and is befriended by Frenchy, who considers dropping out of school to become a beautician. Unaware of each other's presence at Rydell, Danny and Sandy tell their respective groups the accounts of events during the pair's brief romance, without initially mentioning the other's name. Sandy's version emphasizes the romance of the affair, while Danny's version is more sexual (and therefore presumably less honest) ("Summer Nights").
When Sandy finally says Danny's name, Rizzo arranges a surprise reunion for the two, but Danny is forced to maintain his bad-boy attitude in front of his pals, upsetting Sandy, who storms off. Frenchy invites the girls to a pajama party, but Sandy falls ill from trying a cigarette, drinking and getting her ears pierced by Frenchy. As she recovers in the bathroom, Rizzo makes fun of her innocence and virtuous nature ("Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee"). 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 later becomes her boyfriend. Sandy laments over her feelings towards Danny, despite his earlier behaviour ("Hopelessly Devoted to You").
The two are disturbed by Leo Balmudo (Dennis C. Stewart), leader of the T-Birds' rival gang, the Scorpions, and his girlfriend Cha-Cha (Annette Charles), leading to a planned car race between Leo and Kenickie. Kenickie purchases an old second-hand car and the group repair it and give it a paint job ("Greased Lightnin'"). In an attempt to impress Sandy, Danny turns to Coach Calhoun (Sid Caesar) 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 (Frankie Avalon) who advises her to return to school after a mishap in beauty class leaves her with bubblegum-pink hair ("Beauty School Dropout").
The school dance arrives, broadcast live on television and hosted by DJ Vince Fontaine, (Edd Byrnes) 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 arrive together. They dance well and are expected to win, but just before the winners are announced they are separated by Sonny, and Danny and Cha-Cha (who were once boyfriend and girlfriend) end up performing together and winning ("Born to Hand Jive").
Danny tries to make it up to Sandy by taking her to a drive-in theater but makes a clumsy pass at her, causing Sandy to angrily depart, leaving Danny distraught ("Sandy"). Meanwhile, Rizzo fears she is pregnant after missing a period and confides in Marty, but Marty tells Sonny and he inadvertently spreads the rumor to Kenickie, the apparent father, though Rizzo denies this to him. Kenickie does the honorable thing and offers to marry Rizzo, but she dislikes the way he proposed and emphatically declines. Rizzo laments on her reputation and how it has affected her personal life ("There Are Worse Things I Could Do").
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 – she then asks Frenchy for help to achieve this goal ("Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee (Reprise)"). On the last day of school, while Principal McGee (Eve Arden) and her assistant Blanche (Dody Goodman) 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. He proposes to her again, and this time she accepts. Danny has become a jock, but is shocked when Sandy arrives with a new hairstyle, dressed in black leather, and smoking a cigarette (although she still looks over at Frenchy to check what to do when Danny notices her). In song, the two admit they love each other and reunite ("You're the One That I Want") and Sandy also tells Danny that if she was willing to change for him then it is only fair that he do the same for her by being more faithful and mature.
The film ends with Danny and Sandy departing in the fantasy version of Greased Lightning together, which takes flight, and the pair wave goodbye to their friends ("We Go Together"). The film ends with credits in the style of a yearbook.
- John Travolta as Danny Zuko
- Olivia Newton-John as Sandy Olsson
- Stockard Channing as Betty Rizzo
- Jeff Conaway as Kenickie
- Barry Pearl as Doody
- Michael Tucci as Sonny LaTierri
- Kelly Ward as Roger "Putzie"
- Didi Conn as Frenchy
- Jamie Donnelly as Jan
- Dinah Manoff as Marty Maraschino
- Eve Arden as Principal Greta McGee
- Dody Goodman as Vice Principal Blanche Hodel
- Sid Caesar as Coach Calhoun
- Eddie Deezen as Eugene Felsnick
- 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
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 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. Newton-John, who is native to Australia, was unable to perform with a convincing American accent, and thus her character was rewritten to be Australian.
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. 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 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. And due to budget cuts a short scene was filmed at Hazard Park (Los Angeles, California)
Scenes inside the Frosty Palace contain obvious blurring of various Coca-Cola signs. Prior to the film's release, 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.
Release and reception
Grease was originally released to theaters on June 16, 1978. It premiered for the first time on American Television in 1981 on ABC-TV. 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 was an immediate box office success. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $8,941,717 in 862 theaters in the United States 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. Globally, it was the highest-grossing musical ever, eclipsing the 13 year old record held by The Sound of Music, but has since been overtaken by Les Misérables and Mamma Mia! and currently sits as the third 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 a 77% "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 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, 1956) and that American International carried to the sea in the 1960s (Beach Party, 1963)."
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.
|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|
|1979||CIC||Golden Screen Award||Won|
|Stockard Channing||People's Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture Supporting Actress||Won|
|Grease||People's Choice Award for Favorite Musical Motion Picture||Won|
|Grease||People's Choice Award for Favorite Overall Motion Picture||Won|
|"Hopelessly Devoted to You"||Academy Award for Best Original Song||Nominated|
|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 Recognition
- 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
Sequels and spin-offs
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 film, Paramount intended to turn Grease into a multi-picture franchise with a television series and three sequels planned. However, due to the box office failure of Grease 2, 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.
On March 12, 2013, Grease and Grease 2 were packaged together in a Double Feature DVD set from Warner Home Video.
The 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 as well as the scene before and the scene after it 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"
- "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 Shakin' Goin' 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)"
On August 17, 2009, a television series inspired by the film premiered in Venezuela. The series was produced and directed by Vladimir Perez. The show will explore and expand on the characters and story from the film.
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