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USA 1978
Directed by
Randall Kleiser
110 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


This adaption of the hit stage musical and to that time the biggest grossing movie musical in film history, belongs to the days when John Travolta was a "ker-ching" smiling pin-up boy and squeaky-clean Olivia Newton-John was the Princess of Pop. Today when Travolta does routine action flicks and Newton-John only appears in the pages of middle-aged women’s magazines this appeals principally for nostalgic reasons.

Lovingly evoking the Technicolor floss of the Doris Day era it unfolds its juke-box teenage love story between good girl Sandy (Newton-John, Australian accent intact ) and bad-boy Danny (Travolta) with conventional vigour and a cast of noticeably too-old actors playing the teenagers. The songs, however, by various writers, are both catchy and lyrically show a good deal more wit and cheek than the does the film’s script and direction. Few people will not know classic songs like Summer Lovin’, You're The One That I Want and Hopelessly Devoted To You but hearing and seeing them performed in the context of this film gives them resonance. The choreography by Patricia Birch, is far from outstanding although Greased Lightnin' and Beauty School Dropout, with Frankie Avalon crooning in an all-white dream sequence, both add some much needed entertainment zest.

FYI: Birch went on to direct the lame 1982 sequel, Grease 2, essentially the same film but wih reversed roles with Michelle Pfeiffer in her first major screen appearanced as Stephanie, a tough talkin' rock n'rolla, opposite newcomer Maxwell Caulfield as a square English visitor to Rydell High. Pfieffer went on to much better things, co-starring the next year in De Palma's Scarface, but Caulfield's film career never took off.




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