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Grease is an American musical directed by Randal Kleiser and starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The screenplay was written by Allan Carr. The very first time Grease was played, it was "live" as a theatre musical in a barn in Chicago on February 5, 1971. One year later, Allan Carr saw the play in another theatre in Chicago. He loved it and decided to make it into a movie. Allan Carr met Olivia Newton John, a blond Australian country singer, at a dinner party and he liked her so much he decided to star her for the movie with John Travolta. John Travolta was thrilled, he said: "She has an amazing voice and I think that nobody in the universe could play Sandy better than her. It would be like giving the part to Taylor Swift nowadays." The two actors really hit it off and the result was amazing! Grease was released on big screens on June 16, 1978.

The Story[edit | edit source]

Grease is an American musical happening in the 1950s. It talks about the life of the students at Rydell High School, of their hobbies, their activities and their favorite places. Between the love stories, the cinema, the car race, the ball and the funfair at the end of the year, the students didn't get bored!

The characters[edit | edit source]

There are several teams of friends in this musical: the T-Birds, the Pink ladies and the Scorpions.

T-Birds[edit | edit source]

The T-birds represent the teenagers of the 1950s extremely well. Indeed, in the 1950s, boys used to leather jackets, their hair style used to be the quiff that they combed with gel or grease. Actually, the T-Birds, who are five boys, wear black leather jackets with the name of their team on the back. They wear white T-shirts and blue jeans. In their hair, they have the quiff that they comb with gel or grease or wax. That's why they are called the “greasers” and that's why the movie is called Grease.

Their personality[edit | edit source]

They show off and they are very interested in girls. They often do pranks to other students. They smoke and drink. They are friends with the Pink Ladies.

The actors of the T-Birds[edit | edit source]

John Travolta plays Danny Zuko (the boss of the T-Birds) Jeff Conaway plays Kenickie (Danny's best friend) Barry Pearl plays Doody, Michael Tucci plays Sonny and Kelly Ward plays Putzie.

The Pink Ladies[edit | edit source]

They wear a pink jacket with their name on the chest and the name of their team “Pink Ladies” on the back. Their everyday clothes reflect the fashion of the 1950s when the girls used to wear tight or wide skirts, cardigans and bows in their hair. In Grease, the Pink Ladies wear wide or tight skirts, cardigans and headscarfs. Their hairstyle is the typical hairstyle of the 50s: the poney tail or the poodle. Like the T-Birds, they also drink and smoke.

The actresses of the Pink Ladies[edit | edit source]

Olivia Newton-John plays Sandy: she is the new girl from Australia Stockard Channing plays Rizzo: she is the boss of the Pink Ladies Didi Conn plays Frenchy: she wants to become a beautician, she likes beauty Jamie Donnelly plays Jan: she likes food Dinah Manoff plays Marty: she likes older boys They are not very intelligent. Rizzo sings “Look at me I’m Sandra Dee” when Sandy goes to Frenchie's house with the Pink Ladies for a girls night. Rizzo mocks Sandy because Sandy acts like a prude.

Scorpions[edit | edit source]

There are 6 boys in the team and their leader is Leo. They are the adversary of the TBirds. They are dangerous. They also show off. Their car spits flames. They wear black clothes. Chacha dates Leo and is in the team of the Scorpions.

Love Story[edit | edit source]

Sandy and Danny break up at the end of the summer holidays because Sandy is supposed to return to Australia. In the end, Sandy doesn't return to Australia but she does her school year in Rydell, the same high school as Danny. At the beginning of the movie, the 2 teenagers tell their friends about their respective summer love when they sing the famous love song “Summer Nights”. Sandy dates Danny and breaks up and dates him again. Rizzo dates Kenickie and breaks up with him. Then, she dates Leo to make Kenickie jealous. Chacha dates Leo and then Kenickie to make Leo jealous. Putzie dates Jan, Doody dates Frenchy and Marty likes older boys! In the movie, many places represent the different places where teenagers used to go. Let's start with the diner.

Diner[edit | edit source]

In the fifties, teenagers used to go to the diner to hang out with their friends, to have fun. They even used to go there on dates with their boyfriend and girlfriend. It was the place to be. There they used to listen to Rock N’ Roll, like Elvis Presley, they used to dance, drink and obviously to eat. The diner in Grease is the perfect representation of what the diners used to be in the 1950s. In Grease, the name of the diner is the Frosty Palace.

The mascot[edit | edit source]

The mascot is a snowman with a black top hat, holding a giant ice cream and standing on one leg. There is a huge Frosty on top of the entrance, another in front of the entrance in the street, another painted on the wall next to the diner and there is another one inside the diner! But that's not all, there is one on each bathroom door and one on each menu!

The food[edit | edit source]

There we can eat burger, banana splits and ice creams, and we can drink smoothies, coffee, Coca-Cola, and milk shakes. In other words: the typical American food. Plus, all the food is very cheap!

The furniture and the music[edit | edit source]

In the diner, the characters can smoke, dance and play music. The furniture of the diner are the typical laitherette booths, stools and chairs, the metal tables and of course the juke box and the television. The diner is covered with posters.

The staff[edit | edit source]

The waiters and waitresses serve at the drive. They wear a blue uniform, a blue and white hat and a white apron. There are seven, waiters and waitresses. Another element that represents the life of a typical American high school in the 1950s is the sport.

The Sport[edit | edit source]

In French high schools we can play badminton, soccer and tennis table, whereas in American high schools we can play American football, baseball, we can do gymnastics, we can wrestle and run. We can even be cheerleaders. Once again, Grease truly represents the typical American high school because we can see lots of sports. In this text, we are going to speak about the sport of Danny Zuko. Danny Zuko tests a lot of sports in the film but he doesn't know their rules. Danny is out of control in lots of sports, he is very brutal and even gives a punch to his opponent. In Gymnastic, Danny ZUKO speaks to the coach while real professionals train next to them. Danny is bad at gymnastic and is a bad player. In Wrestling, he is immediately put to the ground by a very tall and muscular man. For wrestling they wear a grey tracksuit. In Hurdles, he is scared because hurdles look very hard. For hurdles they also wear a grey tracksuit. In Basketball, they wear white shorts and a red T-shirt. Like in other sports, he is brutal and doesn't know the rules. He doesn't dribble around. In Baseball, they wear shorts and a red and white T-shirt. Danny wears a red cap, a white and red tracksuit and he holds the bat. He never manages to hit the ball. And it makes him angry. Finally, he chooses the sport of long distance running. In Grease, like in many American high schools, the girls can be Cheerleaders. Therefore, Sandy and other girls become cheerleaders, they dance to encourage the football players.

The Ball[edit | edit source]

Moreover, at the end of the school year, the students have a ball. It is a dance competition filmed on TV. Back in the 1950s, the TV used to be in black and white and the cameras used to be very big. The name of the dance competition was "National Bandstand", it was the beginning of the TV so the students were really excited. Grease represents the reality of this dance competition, because it happened in real life. In the movie, the show was presented by Vince Fontaine.

Rules[edit | edit source]

The rules of the dance competition were that all couples had to be boy-girl. If they were tapped on the shoulder, they had to leave the floor. Anyone doing tasteless or vulgar movements would be disqualified.

Dances[edit | edit source]

First and foremost, “Grease couldn’t happen without Rock ‘n’ Roll” said Jeff Conaway, who played the part of Kenickie. During the ball, they danced Rock 'n’ Roll and acrobatic Rock 'n’ Roll, the Swing (it looks like the Charleston), the Stroll (“in the dance, two lines of dancers, men on one side and women on the other, face each other, moving in place to the music. Each paired couple then steps out and does a more elaborate dance up and down between the rows of dancers.”)2, the Hand-Jive (the dancers do movements with the hands 2 while they dance), the "how low can you go" (the dancers go down until being the lowest on the floor), the Twist (the dancers do movements with the pelvis and the arms), the Belt-Loop Side-Step (the dancers do movements with the pelvis with the hands on the belt), the Shimmy (the dancers do movements with the shoulders), the Windmill Nap (the dancers do movements with their arms), the “T-Birds Strut” (they sway their hips). The winners of the dance competition were Danny Zuko and Cha Cha Digregorio, Zuko's ex-girlfriend. Cha Cha stole Sandy's partner to dance with, she wanted to make Sandy jealous.

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

20 years after the release of Grease, for the 20th anniversary of the movie, the actors were interviewed and here is what they said about this amazing experience!3 For the ball, the actors and the dancers met every day during three weeks to rehearse the choreography: they did warm ups, stretches and exercises. They had to do a lot of difficult sequences. The dance contest was a lot of fun. They shot during a week in a real school downtown Los Angeles. Indeed, they felt like they really were in high-school. In the gymnasium it was hot but it wasn't like work. “Everyone thinks that the dance contest was speeded up. But it wasn’t, in fact it was tremendously electric.” said Didi Conn, who played the part of Frenchie.

Cinema[edit | edit source]

The T-birds and The Pink ladies go to the Open-Air Cinema, where cars are on 5 rows, it is a drive-in. When they see the movie in their car, they eat pop-corn and hot dogs and drink Coca-Cola. In the 1950s, the boys used to do car races because it allowed them to solve their problems and, also, to show who is the strangest. In Grease, the Scorpions and the T-Birds want to race because Kenickie and Leo are rivals. They are rivals because they exchanged their girlfriends during the ball. Therefore, they need to race to see who is the strongest and who gets the girl.

The racers[edit | edit source]

The team leader of the Scorpions is Leo and the team leader of the T-Birds is Danny Zuko. Kenickie was supposed to drive and race against Leo but, in the end, Danny drives for the race because Kenickie got wounded by the car door. 3 DVD Grease, Bonus : interview behind the scenes

Description of the cars[edit | edit source]

In the 1950s, the people used to drive convertible Cadillacs. The bigger and the shinier the car was, the tougher the boys were. The car of the T Birds is a convertible white Cadillac, with silver lightning on the sides, the contour is red. The car is called Super Lightning. The song “Grease Lightnin” sung by John Travolta shows perfectly how the T-Birds built their car! For the 20th anniversary, Travolta explained that the background of the set was white with vivid colours all around on the set. As a matter of fact they based it on the Broadway choreography and they heightened it to a cinematic dimension. Travolta slid under the car to make a transition between the old and the new car. Travolta thinks “Grease Lightnin” was funny because it was exiting. The car of the Scorpions is black, white and yellow and spits orange flames, it is also a convertible Cadillac. Both cars are brand new and shiny at the beginning of the race but at the end they are nearly drowned and damaged.

During the race[edit | edit source]

During the race Leo is ready to do anything to win the race, even to cheat: while they are driving, Leo pulls next to Danny's car, takes out a sharp blade out of the wheel and carves the car of the T Birds. But Danny manages to get out of the situation and wins the race. The honor is safe!

The funfair[edit | edit source]

At the end of the school year, the students had a funfair. During this carnival, the pupils ate, danced (the Stroll and Rock 'n’ Roll) and did attractions. There were all kinds of attractions such as the big wheel, the tester of strength (the pupils test their strength by hitting with a hammer on a platform, the slider goes up and tells how strong they are). There also were fun photos (the pupils put their head in a funny model in wood), the "cream the teacher" (the pupils throw a tart towards the teacher and tries to hit him), the shake shake (which a pendulum where they have to walk on) and the hoola-hoop. They ate candy floss, burgers and sausages. The carnival was in the sport ground. The famous song “You’re the one that I want” was sung at the funfair. Indeed, there is a difference between Sandy's character at the beginning of the film and at the end - she became a really bad girl at the end to resemble the T-Birds look. She wanted to fit in and to be part of the gang completely. Olivia said she loved it because it was a new challenge: she had to change her personality. But there was a little problem: her trousers of the 50s were too tight!!! But let's not forget that Grease is a musical. In the movie, there are 21 songs: some songs are slow, romantic or sad. Some songs are more rhythmic, and are Rock ‘n‘ Roll songs. We already mentioned some songs before. Here is the complete soundtrack of the movie.

Songs from Grease[edit | edit source]

  1. Grease
  2. Summer Nights
  3. Hopelessly devoted to you
  4. You're the one that I want
  5. Sandy
  6. Beauty School dropout
  7. Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee
  8. Greased Lightnin
  9. It's raining on Prom Night
  10. Alone at the Drive-in Movie
  11. Blue Moon
  12. Rock ‘n’ Roll is here to stay
  13. Those magic changes
  14. Hound Dog
  15. Born to hand jive
  16. Tears on my pillow
  17. Mooning
  18. Freddy my love
  19. Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Queen
  20. There are worse things I could do
  21. Look at me I'm Sandra Dee (reprise)
  22. We go together
  23. Love is a many Splendored thing (instrumental)

Sources[edit | edit source]

  • Vanity Fair, August 2016, p. 129.
  • Grease, Randal, Keiser, Paramount Pictures, 2002.