Directed by Randal
Kleiser (1978, Paramount Pictures)
Starring John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing and
A high school boy and girl try to reconcile their feelings for each
other amid their social image.
November 3rd, 2007 on
DVD for the 3rd time
I never noticed, before, how geeky all
the characters in this movie were, though they were supposed to be so
cool. They made great comic relief beside the main and supporting
characters. The movie is pretty tame compared to what is currently in
theatres geared toward the same type of viewer, but that's the way
things were 30 years ago. I tend to like this better, because it is more
story than anything. And great music, sung by the actors, in a very fun
September 29th, 2002
on DVD for the second time
This movie is a lot of fun. Between the high school
pretentiousness and the wonderful songs, I think it's hard to dislike
this kind of sappy movie.
I guess I have a thing for musicals -snappy rock and roll ones, anyway.
Between the operatic Evita and what I thought was the incredible
Rouge, and now this movie... well, I guess I just like tapping my toes!
Joanne introduced me to Grease not too many years ago, after being
disgusted that I had never seen it (it's a good thing she had seen
Wars, after all!). I really enjoyed it, but not as much as I did this time, I
think. In the intervening years, I have grown to discover the music of
this musical on the radio and the CD soundtrack. We even went to see the
live production and loved it.
Because of the period sets and costumes of the day (1978, not the
1950s), the production is set in its ways, and it shows a little around
the edges. The colors are not all that sharp, and the sound (except when
singing) is more mono than anything else, even though it is supposed to
be mixed in surround. But the widescreen really shows off the feature.
There are conversations that can only be had on the widescreen version
of this film, and the choreography really only supports the wide format.
Anything else removes a significant portion of the film.
The main characters of Danny and Sandy, reunited after a summer romance
that was supposed to return her to Australia, but instead sees her in
the same school as him, show great chemistry. The two leads did some
great work, with Sandy being very innocent, not understanding Danny's
"cool" behavior. For Danny, of course, image is everything. They go
through their ups and downs, with Danny really trying, but he can't
overcome his nature -his image. He really does try to be sensitive, but
is thrown back to his old self whenever his friends appear.
Sandy, for her part, seems to get along with her friends just fine, even
though she doesn't drink or smoke or have sex. Only one of them really
ostracizes her. By the end, her genuinely friendly nature has even
turned Rizzo over (when she thinks she is pregnant). But she still wants
Danny. So she changes her image, at least for the moment. Even though
she appears way too skinny, seeing her in that tight outfit did more
than just bulge out Danny's eyes! And, of course, smoking was "cool" back
then, so everybody has a cigarette in their mouths, and Sandy is even
shown how to flick it in a "cool" manner.
What really interested me this time seeing the movie was the way the
supporting characters were so fleshed out. Rizzo is the obvious one to
point out, as she is loud and obnoxious at times. But she is still a
woman, and is still sensitive. She wants love, enjoys sex, and isn't
afraid of the consequences -at least until she thinks she's pregnant.
Even then, she is not really bothered by the consequences, but the looks she gets
around school are enough to make anybody apprehensive.
The supporting character I was most impressed with was Frenchie. She did
a terrific job, both in her ineptness at her fashion degree ("it was so
much work!"), and in her friendship and sensitivity towards Sandy.
Kenickie was going through a "cool" phase, as well, but he also needed
to be accepted as a leader. Still, he looked up to Danny as the others
I liked the way Danny tried very hard to turn into a jock. His attempts
at sports were really funny, and when he finally finishes his track
course, it's encouraging to see how far he has actually come in trying
to win Sandy. But I am afraid that his efforts have been compromised
because of Sandy's change.
Still, the movie had so many great moments, and the singing was a major
highlight. All of the songs, even the sappy "Hopelessly Devoted" and
"Beauty School Dropout", were great, and wonderfully performed. The
dancing was also impressive. I liked the way that part of their
"coolness" was the ability to dazzle on the dance floor. But even the
quick shuffle on the stands while singing "Summer Nights" thoroughly
The DVD contains a short interview with various cast members, from a
20th anniversary special four years ago. It was mildly interesting, but
would have been more so if it was more recent. The theatrical trailer is
also on the DVD, and seems to give away so much of the film! These are
bare bones extras, as there is not even an audio commentary.
For fans of the music and the movie, this is a great film to see,
especially in the widescreen version. The film is funny (check out the
secretary on the xylophone!), toe-tapping, and well acted on almost