Friday, May 11, 2012
(June 1978, U.S.)
In the world of cinema, there are certain films that everyone of more than one generation, unless they've been spending their lives under the deepest rock, have seen at least once. Even if you're not a big fan of movie musicals (and I'm NOT!), you've very likely seen GREASE. Shit, EVERYONE has seen GREASE, haven't they?? So that being the case, I'm happy to say that GREASE is one of those films I can take comfort in not having to bother describing the plot and storyline...okay, it's a 1950s high school rock and roll musical based on the 1972 hit Broadway production...but that's all I'm going to say about that. What I can enjoy doing now is to take the time to share with you my most personal memories and experiences of this film.
The first thing I have to do is share two rather shameful confessions with you. The first is that in a one year period between 1978 and 1979, my family went to see GREASE in the movie theater six, that's SIX, times! On two of those occassions, we stayed in our seats at the theater to watch it again (you could still do that back in those days of the late, great '70s!). That should give you a definite idea of how much we loved it. The second (even more shameful!) confession is that when I was eleven years-old, more than anyone else in the world, I wanted to be John Travolta (this is the part where you laugh your ass off!)! But really, let's think about who the man was back then. He'd come to extreme fame playing his popular characters in WELCOME BACK, KOTTER, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (1977) and now he was tearing up the screen with Olivia Newton-John in GREASE. Let's face it - the man was cool, he could sing, he could dance and he always got the chicks! What pubescent young boy WOULDN'T want to be a man like that?? What pubescent young boy's jaw didn't drop a thousand feet to the ground when he first saw young, innocent Sandy (Newton-John) walk onto the screen smoking a cigarette and dressed in black leather and teased hair. What boy didn't want to be Danny (Travolta) when Sandy seductively says to him, "Tell me about it...stud!" or feels up her own body when she sings, "Feel your way" during the song, "You're the One I Want"?
With the experience of seeing GREASE six times on screen (I still can't believe we did that!) also came the extensive merchandise that I felt I just had to have as a kid. Soundtrack record (yes, I said RECORD!), movie program, Topps trading cards, etc. Yes, it was definitely a fun time to be "Greaseified!" But there's always something that's puzzled me over the last few decades and that's this - can someone please tell me when and how GREASE slowly evolved into a chick movie?? Seriously, back in "the day" when GREASE was new and hot, it just didn't seem that way at all. Girls loved the movie, yes, but boys, too, recognized it's level of coolness. When we weren't drooling over Olivia and longing to be John, we often found ourselves pretending to be just like T-Birds singing "Greased Lighting". Somewhere along the course of time, though, it came something else that I didn't care for. To see GREASE revived on Broadway in the 1990s with people like Rosie O'Donnel and Brooke Shields playing Rizzo was bad enough. To see the film re-released in theaters a couple of years back as a sing-along version was just the end of the line for me.
No, for me GREASE will always be that real cool musical that made me want to be just like John Travolta and played in a small movie theater in Westhampton Beach, Long Island for practically the entire Summer of 1978. That, my friends, is what creates the movie memories of our lives that we treasure into our adulthood, and also the reason I take pleasure in writing posts like this one.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Putzie (referring to the car's bumper): "What kinda car'd you swipe this from anyway?"
Sonny and Doody: "Ya mother's!"