I-The Cut: Grease (OC’s May Issue)

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Uncategorized

I-The Cut: Grease

May  2009

Thanks to my receding hairline I stopped using petroleum and grease based products for grooming hair—that was eleven years ago. Now I barely use a comb unlike the greasers in Randal Kleiser’s 1978 Grease.

Based on a musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey Grease has become a cult classic from the moment it hit the silver screen. The original musical was shown on Broadway on 1972 and is still till this day performed in the United States; I remember once hearing about a local production of Grease at a Jordanian school.

Greaser is, “slang for a tough young man, from a white working-class background, and who is much involved with motorcycles or cars.” The greasers in this movie are involved with cars—to be more specific fire breathing cool Oldsmobiles.

Grease stars Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway, Barry Pearl, Michael Tucci, Kelly Ward, Didi Conn, Jamie Donnelly, Dinah Manoff, Eve Arden, Dody Goodman, Frankie Avalon, Joan Blondell, Edd Byrnes and Sid Caesar.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John play the roles of Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson, who spent the entire summer together. The two chase each other on the beach to the tunes of Love is a Many-Splendored Thing and vow eternal love even though Sandy will soon be returning to Australia.

“I’m going back to Australia; I might never see you again,” Sandy sighs. “Don’t… don’t talk that way, Sandy,” with a reassuring voice he answers.

“But it’s true! I’ve just had the best summer of my life, and now I have to go away. It isn’t fair,” Sandy before Danny starts kissing her,”Danny, don’t spoil it!”

“It’s not spoiling it, Sandy, it’s only making it better,” he explains. “Danny… is this the end?” with a gentle voice she inquires.

“Of course not; it’s only the beginning,” he announces before Grease continues with its animated credit sequence with the disco theme song Grease by Frankie Valli.

Summer Nights, Look at Me…I am Sandra Dee, Hopelessly Devoted to You, You’re the One That I Want, Sandy, Alone at the Drive-in Movie and We Go Together are among the 24 songs sung throughout this unforgettable musical.

As you will notice in the most memorable scenes I chose the scene in which Danny and Sandy sing Summer Nights with their respective colleagues: The Pink Ladies headed by Betty Rizzo (Shanning) and the T-Birds headed by Danny’s second in command Kenickie (Conaway).

As the timeless song is performed by the cast Sandy and Danny recollect their vacation with each other. Danny doesn’t know that Sandy’s family decided to stay in America and that she is now studying at Rydell High. When they meet Danny, who is with the T-Birds, brushes her off because he doesn’t want to come out as a softie.

From that moment on it is a shaky ride for the two lovebirds. You can say Grease barrows some elements from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet but on a less dramatic level. The two are not able to confess their love to each other because of their friends and banal high school norms that govern social relationships.

The cool cats cannot but date the cool kittens—something silly like that and if you’ve been to high school you probably know what I am talking about.

Olivia Newton-John as Sandy is a breath of fresh air. The same can be said about Travolta, whose acting career was revived a few years ago by Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. The man is a good performer and knows how to sing despite of the few embarrassing octaves that he is able to deliver in Summer Night and Sandy.

Shanning and Conaway’s volatile chemistry adds to Grease‘s charm as it is a movie about love as it is about coming of age.Everyone in this movie is in love except for Principal McGee (Arden) and Coach Calhoun (Caesar), who give us the best adult comic relief roles in movie-musical history.

The latter, Coach Calhoun, is the funniest as he tries to make a jock out of Zukko, who is trying to impress Sandy, who is dating an athlete (believe it or not it is Lorenzo Lamas).

No matter how many times I will review Grease there will always be room for something extra and new. Adapted by Allan Carr with a screenplay by Bronte Woodard, Grease, the movie, is a 110 minutes of great dance numbers, sold performances from the cast, great rock and roll music and memorable lyrics that you will be humming long after the credits have rolled.

What are you waiting for! Go rent the DVD and buy the soundtrack.

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