- Grease (film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Randal Kleiser Produced by Robert Stigwood
Screenplay by Bronte Woodard
Based on Grease by
Starring John Travolta
Music by Michael Gibson (Score)
Cinematography Bill Butler Editing by John F. Burnett
Distributed by Paramount Pictures Release date(s) June 16, 1978 Running time 110 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $6 million Box office $394,589,888
Grease is a 1978 American musical film directed by Randal Kleiser and 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.
In the summer of 1958, local boy Danny Zuko and vacationing Sandy Olson 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, Putzie and Sonny. Meanwhile, the Pink Ladies arrive, consisting of Betty Rizzo, Frenchie, Jan and Marty to "rule the school". After her parents decided not to return to Australia, Sandy enrolls at Rydell and befriends Pink Lady Frenchy, who considers dropping out of school to become a beautician. Oblivious to each other's presence at school, Danny and Sandy tell the T-Birds and Pink Ladies their respective accounts of events during their brief romance.
Upon learning Danny is Sandy's lover, Rizzo arranges for the two to reunite, but Danny is forced to maintain his badboy attitude in front of his friends, upsetting Sandy. Frenchy invites the girls to a sleepover, but Sandy gets sick after Frenchy pierces her ears. The T-Birds almost crash the party, but a guilty Danny leaves, followed by Rizzo to make out with Kenickie, actually her boyfriend. The two are disturbed by Leo, leader of the T-Birds' rival gang, the Scorpions, and his girlfriend Cha-Cha, who bump into Kenickie's fender. Kenickie yells at Leo for dinging the fender. Wishing to win his way back into Sandy's affection after Danny spies her flirting with Rydell's muscular football star, 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 breaking up over a fight. Left alone, Frenchy is visited by a guardian angel who advises her to return to high school.
The school dance arrives, broadcasted 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 reunite, once boyfriend and girlfriend, and win a dance-off. Danny tries to make it up to Sandy by taking her to a drive-in theatre 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, who tells Sonny, who in turn spreads the rumour which eventually reaches Kenickie, who is the potential father.
The race arrives, but Kenickie is knocked out by Putzie when he opened the door and hit Kenickie while he was reaching down for a penny so Danny takes up the challenge. He and Leo race until Leo crashes and is left 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 celebrate 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 smoking and dressed in black leather. In song, the two admit they love each other and reunite. The film ends with Danny and Sandy departing in Danny's car which takes flight, and wave goodbye to their friends as they leave. The film ends with credits in the style of a yearbook.
- Principal cast
- John Travolta as Danny Zuko (Leader of the T-Birds)
- Olivia Newton-John as Sandy Olsson
- Jeff Conaway as Kenickie
- Stockard Channing as Betty Rizzo (Leader of the Pink Ladies)
- The T-Birds
- The Pink Ladies
- School Staff/Others
- Eve Arden as Principal McGee
- Frankie Avalon as The Teen Angel
- Joan Blondell as Vi
- Edd Byrnes as Vince Fontaine
- Sid Caesar as Coach Calhoun
- Alice Ghostley as Mrs. Murdock
- Dody Goodman as Blanche Hodel
- Sha-Na-Na as Johnny Casino and the Gamblers
- Other characters
- Susan Buckner as Patty Simcox
- Dennis C. Stewart as Leo Balmudo, the film's villain.
- Annette Charles as Charlene "Cha-Cha" DiGregorio
- Eddie Deezen as Eugene Felsnic
- Fannie Flagg as Nurse Wilkins
- Lorenzo Lamas as Tom Chisolm
- Dick Patterson as Mr. Rudie
- Ellen Travolta as Waitress
- Darrell Zwerling as Mr. Lynch
- Michael Biehn as Mike (uncredited)
Singer Olivia Newton-John 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 Tori Black 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.
The then unknown Dinah Manoff, one of the youngest actresses in the film, passed her audition without being given a singing or dancing tryout. Manoff's skills in those areas proved limited as she was hidden during most of the song numbers. Manoff originally was to portray Frenchy because of her higher pitched voice at that time.
Randal Kleiser directed John Travolta 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.
Frosty Palace scenes
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). The film's set decorator, unaware of the deal, had placed Coca-Cola products and signage in the scene. When Carr saw the footage, 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-A-Long version (see below), the blurred Coke poster has been digitally removed. In its place is more of the wavy wall design that surrounded it.
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".
Release and reception
Grease was originally released to theaters on June 16, 1978. It was released in the US on VHS during the 1980s; the latest VHS release was June 23, 1998 as 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 includes a black Rydell High T-Bird jacket cover, a white Rydell "R" lettermans sweater cover or the Target-exclusive Pink Ladies cover. It was released on Blu-ray Disc on May 5, 2009.
Grease received generally favorable reviews and is considered by many as one of the best films of 1978. It currently holds an 83% "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 1950's 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 50's 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 50's (Don't Knock the Rock, 1957) and that American International carried to the sea in the 1960's (Beach Party, 1963)."
The movie was the highest grossing movie of 1978 and the highest-grossing movie musical ever at the time, surpassing 1965's The Sound of Music. Grease ended up as the third highest grossing film of the 1970s trailing Jaws and the first Star Wars film.
Sequels and spin-offs
Grease 2 (1982) was a sequel to Grease starring Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer. The only cast members from the original movie were Blanche, Coach Calhoun, Eugene, Frenchy, Leo (the Scorpions' gang leader) and Principal McGee. Dick Patterson returned, playing a different character. It was not nearly as successful. 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.
In 2008, it was reported that Paramount was planning a new sequel to Grease that will debut straight to DVD. Grease was re-released to theaters in 1998 to mark the 20th anniversary. That version is shown on TV to this day, except a few select Viacom networks run the original master instead. It also ranked number 21 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies.
On July 8, 2010, a sing-a-long 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 screen for one weekend.
The scene at the very start was shot at Malibu's Leo Carrillo State Beach. 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, where many other films have been shot. The final scene where the carnival took place used John Marshall High School.
The soundtrack album ended 1978 as the second-best selling album of the year in the United States, exceeded only by another soundtrack album. 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. 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 appear 6th and 21st respectively in the official all-time UK best-selling singles list issued in 2002. The movie's title song was also a number-one smash 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.
The number in brackets below indicates the order from the film. Some of the songs were not present in the film; songs that appear in the film but not in the soundtrack are Richie Valens' "La Bamba", "Whole Lotta Shaking Going On" by Jerry Lee Lewis and Alma Mater (it was played during the first day announcements, the bonfire, the T-Birds sang the version with funny lyrics, the announcements late in the film, and finally at the carnival).
-  Grease — Frankie Valli
-  Summer Nights — Danny, Sandy, Pink Ladies and the T-Birds
-  Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee — Rizzo and the Pink Ladies
-  Hopelessly Devoted to You — Sandy
-  Greased Lightning — Danny and the T-Birds
-  You're the One That I Want — Danny and Sandy
-  Sandy (Music by Louis St. Louis, Lyrics by Scott J. Simon) — Danny
-  Beauty School Dropout — Frankie Avalon / Angels
-  It's Raining on Prom Night — Sandy (radio)
-  Alone at the Drive-in Movie (instrumental)
-  Blue Moon (Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart) — Johnny Casino & the Gamblers (Sha Na Na)
-  Rock n' Roll is Here to Stay (D. White) — Johnny Casino & the Gamblers (Sha Na Na)
-  Those Magic Changes — Johnny Casino & the Gamblers (Sha Na Na); Danny sings along onscreen
-  Hound Dog (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller) — Johnny Casino & the Gamblers (Sha Na Na)
-  Born to Hand Jive — Johnny Casino & the Gamblers (Sha Na Na)
-  Tears on My Pillow (S. Bradford and A. Lewis) — Johnny Casino & the Gamblers (Sha Na Na)
-  Mooning — Jan and Roger
-  Freddy, My Love — Marty
-  Rock n' Roll Party Queen — Radio
-  There Are Worse Things I Could Do — Rizzo
-  Look at Me I'm Sandra Dee (reprise) — Sandy
-  We Go Together — Danny, Sandy, Rizzo, Kenickie, Marty, Sonny, Jan, Putzie, Doody, Frenchy, Eugene, Patty, Miss Mcgee, Mr. Lynch, and Coach
-  Love is a Many Splendored Thing (instrumental)
-  Grease (Reprise) — Frankie Valli
The song order on the soundtrack album does not match the order in the film, a common practice at the time, when balancing the length of each program—each side of an LP or cassette, or each program of an 8-track tape—was important for effective cost management.
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- ^ Hofler, Robert (2010). Party Animals: A Hollywood Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll Starring the Fabulous Allan Carr. Da Capo Press. p. 66. ISBN 0-306-81655-5.
- ^ Hofler, Robert (2010). Party Animals: A Hollywood Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll Starring the Fabulous Allan Carr. Da Capo Press. p. 67. ISBN 0-306-81655-5.
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- ^ a b "Grease Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic.com. http://www.metacritic.com/movie/grease. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- ^ "Greatest Films of 1978". Filmsite.org. http://www.filmsite.org/1978.html. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- ^ "The 10 Best Movies of 1978". Film.com. 2007-06-01. http://www.film.com/features/story/10-best-movies-of-1978/14955431. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- ^ http://www.imdb.com/year/1978
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- ^ "Grease". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/grease/. Retrieved 2011-10-09.
- ^ Vincent Canby (June 16, 1978). "A Slick Version of 'Grease': Fantasy of the 50's". The New York Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9D0CE7D61031E632A25755C1A9609C946990D6CF. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
- ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084021/trivia
- ^ "Mean Girls 2? Naked Gun 4? Road Trip 2? Grease 3? | /Film". Slashfilm.com. 2008-08-21. http://www.slashfilm.com/2008/08/21/mean-girls-2-naked-gun-4-road-trip-2-grease-3/. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
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- ^ "Wanna Sing-A-Long with Grease? With Lyrics?!?". Screencrave.com. 2010-05-21. http://screencrave.com/2010-05-21/wanna-sing-a-long-with-grease-with-lyrics/. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- ^ "'Grease Sing-A-Long' trailer cuts cigarette from iconic scene: Smoking was not removed from the film itself, Ocala.com, 04 June 2010.
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- ^ VH1's "Behind the Music: Grease"
- Official Sing-A-Long Site
- Official DVD Site
- Grease at the Internet Movie Database
- Grease at AllRovi
- Grease at Box Office Mojo
- Grease at Rotten Tomatoes
- Grease at Metacritic
Films directed by Randal Kleiser 1970sPeege (1972) · The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976) · The Gathering (1977) · Grease (1978) 1980s 1990s 2000sRed Riding Hood (2004) · Love Wrecked (2005)
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