3 – Grease – The Guardian’s Top Ten Movie Musicals

Movie Musicals are as popular today as they were back in the twenties when sound was first introduced to cinema.
In December 2013 The Guardian Newspaper published their list of the Top Ten Movie Musicals.
Here is what the Guardian’s critics have to say, what we at Actor Hub think of each choice and some of your thoughts (via Amazon’s reviews).
If you agree or disagree please let us know via Twitter @actorhub.
Read the original article on the Guardian’s website.

#3 Grease – Top Ten Film Musicals

What The Guardian Said:

The elements that made Grease a smash hit in 1978 now seem impossible to account for: in the year the Sex Pistols imploded, a nostalgic stage show using faux 50s pop songs and featuring a cast with a median age of 30 playing teenagers became the highest grossing musical in the US, an honour it holds to this day. It saw John Travolta, a disco-dancing superstar after the phenomenon that was Saturday Night Fever, continue to reign supreme as world superstar, to be joined briefly by Olivia Newton-John, an MOR singer whose film career would almost immediately hit the skids.
The reason Grease has endured is because Warren Casey’s and Jim Jacobs’s original 1971 musical is a subversive celebration of the flipside of the era it recreates. The premise – tough guy from the wrong side of the tracks meets cute Wasp girl – is the living embodiment of the Shangri-Las’ Leader of the Pack, and the story proceeds to imagine a parallel world in which all the cult fetish items of the real 50s are out in the mainstream. Flick-knives, beehives, rock’n’roll, juvenile delinquency, teenage pregnancy and smoking: though Randal Kleiser’s slick movie version airbrushes many of those elements, they are still recognisably there, just beneath the surface.
Today it seems impossible to comprehend that such a family-friendly film contains not only so many double entendres, but so many references to sex, from Greased Lightning’s celebration of the “pussy wagon” to Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee and its put-down of the cutesy star as “lousy with virginity”. It’s possible that Grease inadvertently stands as a testament to the studio system; Kleiser has said that he made the film for hire, didn’t have much intuition about the music and was left alone by Paramount, who had bigger fish, such as Heaven Can Wait, to fry. The resulting lack of preciousness is undoubtedly what sells it; breezy and unpretentious, it will always rock the house. Damon Wise

What We Think:

Grease is like marmite … you either love it or hate it. Me, I love it: but what follows is both arguments.
Love It The Grease soundtrack is a classic, everyone knows the tunes, and every wedding disco worth its sugared almonds will rock out the Grease megamix and have your uncles up doing their best ‘Greased Lightning’ hand-moves. The music captures a joyful horniness of the film with a blend of fifties ranchiness and nostalgic whimsy.
Yes, the stars are all way too old to be in high school but Travolta and Newton John shine in their roles, especially Travolta who shows himself to be funny as well as one hell of a mover, his performance at the school dance sequence is a great display of a guy dancing with gracefulness but also oozing masculinity. Newton-John is slightly awkward as Sandy, but this works as Sandy and her transformation to the final Sandy is a real cult movie moment!
The supporting stars Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway and Didi Conn are all perfect in their roles, with Channing in particular perfectly hitting the right notes, emotionally and vocally, as Rizzo.
Grease is a perfectly lubricated musical movie with all its parted oiled up and moving in harmony creating a timeless and electrifying cinematic experience! ActorHub
Hate It Grease paints a picture of 1950s America with rose coloured glasses and creates a piece of nostalgic fluff and fakery.
The cast are all way too old for the roles and the delivery of the songs is dull. Olivia Newton John delivers her vocals with a lifeless range and Travolta’s singing is hardly better. It is only Stockard Channing who is able to deliver a musical performance worthy of a musical in that she sings with character and emotion.
The dancing is okay, slightly obvious choreography throughout but what really hinders is that the big dance scenes are shot with a still ‘proscenium arch’ type of camera shot teamed with unimaginative editing which makes for pretty uninspiring cinematography.
All fluff and no substance – if it wasn’t for its mass appeal this is a movie which could very easily have been forgotten. ActorHub
Trivia Fans:
  • When filming began in June 1977, John Travolta was 23, Olivia Newton-John was 28, Stockard Channing was 33, Jeff Conaway was 26, Barry Pearl was 27, Michael Tucci was 31, Kelly Ward was 20, Didi Conn was 25; Jamie Donnelly was 30, and Annette Charles was 29.
  • “You’re the One That I Want” took just one afternoon to film.
  • Olivia Newton-John had to be sewn into the trousers she wears in the last sequence
  • Jeff Conaway 6′ 1½” had to walk slightly stooped so that John Travolta 6′ 2″ would appear taller
  • Rizzo’s hickeys were real. Stockard Channing said in an interview that Jeff Conaway insisted on applying them himself.

What You Think:

The Top Ten Movie Musicals