Grease: High School Fun in the ‘50s
“Summer loving had me a blast / summer loving happened so fast.” These lyrics come to my mind the minute I think of the movie Grease. I was in high school in the late ‘70s when this film hit Manila’s theaters. Back then, some months earlier, Saturday Night Fever had created a stir among the Filipino youngsters.
Since I enjoyed watching John Travolta’s energetic dancing in Saturday Night Fever, I just had to watch Grease, as I was excited to see how the team-up of Travolta (who plays Danny Zuko) and singer Olivia Newton-John (who plays Sandy Olsson) would be. I wasn’t disappointed. It turned out that I liked the movie more than Saturday Night Fever!
Grease is one of those wholesome movies which I would recommend to today’s young people. It’s educational in a way, since it gives us a clear picture of high school life in the ‘50s. Life seemed so simple and carefree back then; perhaps people were still cherishing their victory in the Second World War.
Based on the 1971 Broadway musical of the same name – which underwent some changes in the revivals – the story centers on Danny and Sandy trying to keep their love burning while struggling to please their friends (the greaser gang T-Birds and their female counterpart, the Pink Ladies).
Since I am fond of musicals, I like most of the numbers, my favorites being Grease, Summer Nights, Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee, Greased Lightnin’, Beauty School Dropout and We Go Together. Whenever I’m in parties or social functions held at karaoke bars, I still croon Hopelessly Devoted to You.
"Summer Nights" with Danny Zuko (John Travolta), Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John), the T-Birds, the Pink Ladies and the Rydell gang
"Greased Lightnin'" with Danny and the T-Birds
I’m rather appalled, though, at seeing high school kids of the ‘50s smoking, making out, and having gang rivalries. (I found the character Cha-Cha (played by Annette Charles) too wild!) I can believe this more if they were in college.
For that matter, I find the Rydell principal McGee (played by Eve Arden) weak in disciplining her “wholesome students”. But I still like her because she is funny especially in the scene where she reprimands the “mooners” ("We have pictures of you so-called 'mooners'. Just because the pictures aren’t of your faces, doesn’t mean we can’t identify you.").
It is marvelous, too, to see familiar actors like Sid Caesar (who plays Coach Calhoun), Ellen Travolta (who plays a waitress), and Lorenzo Lamas (who plays the nice guy Tom interested in Sandy).
And I admit that instead of listening to Danny sing Sandy, I am more entertained by the billboard ad in the background showing a cartoon of a hotdog jumping into the bun.
Likewise, watching Grease gives me a glimpse of how life was in Manila. My late parents used to talk to me about cheap grocery items, low utility bills, peace and order in the society. I also remember, as I was growing up, riding the sleek Thunderbird car that we kept in our garage. How good it felt to live back then!
For those of us who want to unwind from today’s pressures and demands caused by endless global crises, Grease is the film to watch. It’s therapeutic, indeed, and will surely ease the mind.
“Grease is the word...”
We go together
That’s the way
It should be.
We’re one of a kind.
Our names are signed.
We’ll always be like one.
When we go out at night
And stars are shining bright
Up in the skies above
Or at a high school dance
Where you can find romance
Baby, it might be love.
We’re for each other.
Just like my brother
We’ll always be together.— The Rydell gang