Grease (1978)

grease poster 1978 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking musical with a good cast

Weak story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Grease

Studio:  RSO Records

Genre(s):  Musical/Romance/Comedy

Release Date(s):  June 16, 1978

MPAA Rating:  PG

grease greased lightning john travolta

“Greased Lightning”…forever damning wedding receptions

Sandy (Olivia-Newton John) has had a summer romance with Danny Zuko (John Travolta).  When she learns that she is staying in America, she discovers herself at school with Danny who turns out is a greaser member of the T-Birds.  Sandy is adopted by the Pink Ladies Marty (Dinah Manoff), Jan (Jamie Donnelly), Frenchy (Didi Conn), and Rizzo (Stockard Channing) who try to break her of her uppity ways.  As their senior year progresses, Danny and Sandy try to find a middle-ground before graduation.

Directed by Randal Kleiser, Grease adapted the 1971 musical.  The movie became an instant hit and has a strong cult following to this day.  It frequently tops “Best Of” lists for musicals and the soundtrack for the film also became a best seller.  The movie broke box office records and received positive reviews from critics.  The song “Hopelessly Devoted to You” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song (losing to the Donna Summers song “Last Dance” from Thank God It’s Friday).  The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2020.

grease beauty school drop out frenchy teen angel didi conn frankie avalon stockard channing

Oh, Frenchy…you suck at cosmetology

I have never been a big Grease fan though it is by no means a bad film.  I’ve seen it a few times, I know the songs, and I enjoy aspects of it.  I just never was on the Grease bandwagon…It is a solid musical and it is easy to see its mass appeal.

The part of Grease I probably like the least is the story.  It is like watching a boring version of Rebel Without a Cause.  It is attempting to tap into nostalgia for the 1950s and presents multiple aspect of the 1950s culture, but it feels a bit uninspiring and unoriginal in the sense that it is so homogenized.  I wish the story was peppier and less predictable (and eliminate some time).  There are fun moments, but not enough to make me go back to Grease over and over again like some Grease fans…every five to ten years is good enough for me.

To bring the story to the screen the script altered and changed a lot of the story.  Sandy became Australian to accommodate Olivia-Newton John and songs were dropped and added to fit the screen.  The jokes and innuendos were toned down but the movie still remains one of those movies that is more suggestive than you might remember it…I don’t know that setting a kid down in front of Grease is necessarily the best move for parents.

grease look at me im sandra dee pink ladies stockard channing didi conn

The Sandra Dee song which references Elvis was recorded on August 16, 1977…the day Elvis died

The cast is rather strong though they were all too old to play high school students.  There are tons of rumors of who was up for the film, but the casting agents did a good job placing actors appropriate for the roles.  I find Olivia Newton-John’s Sandy a little wooden and don’t think John is very good for the role (though I do like it when she gets “slutty”).  Travolta is a good Danny and once again proves that movies where he dances are a success.  Jeff Conaway claims a fall in “Greased Lightning” led to his back injury and pill addiction that eventually killed him.  Fan favorite of course is Rizzo who is deftly played by Stockard Channing whose deeper voice fits her character.  My favorite is the squeaky Didi Conn who plays the “Beauty School Dropout” Frenchy.  Other stars included Eve Arden (Principal McGee), Sid Caesar (Coach Calhoun), Alice Ghostley (Mrs. Murdock), Dinah Manhoff (Marty), Frankie Avalon (the Teen Angel), and a performance by Sha-Na-Na.

grease tell me about it stud slutty sandy olivia newton john

“Tell me about it…stud”

I will say that Grease looks fantastic.  From the opening cartoon sequence to the very stylized performances, the movie looks and sounds great.  I am about 50/50 on Grease’s music but it is a well-shot musical that really helped re-energize (for a moment) the dying genre of film.

Grease is one of those musicals that probably can be tolerated by a wide audience.  The music and the look of the film go a long way and make up for the film’s weak script.  Though I’m not a huge fan, I do have respect for the film and can’t look down on those who like it (unlike some other popular films).  Grease’s popularity led to a less popular sequel Grease 2 released in 1982.  A live version of the musical premiered on FOX in 2016.

Related Links:

Grease:  Live! (2016)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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