GREASE 7x400ft colour sound scope Available from Derann

Set in 1950’s USA Grease is the story of high school students Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) whose on and off romance provides the central theme of this 1978 hit musical. Originally available from Marketing Films Grease has reappeared on super 8 in the glory of cinemascope.

I generally don’t like musicals. This film is one in particular I had been determined to avoid but what a surprise. Just about all the songs are classics, John Travolta is now a superstar and his earlier films now seem to hold more interest, Olivia Newton-John plays an 18 year old totally convincingly, the fashions, the era, just about everything makes this film the undoubted classic that it has become. Having not seen it previously it was easy to identify ‘American Graffiti’ as a major influence on the production but this does not detract in any way from the enjoyment.

The film opens with an ending as we see Sandy and Danny playing together on a beach. Sandy is just coming to the end of her holiday and is about to return to Australia so the couple are saying goodbye. The opening titles then run and these are extremely good fun particularly as the Franki Valli hit theme ‘Grease’ written by the brothers Gibb (more commonly known as the ‘BeeGees’) plays over the top. We then return to see the start of the new year at school and Danny is back to being single again, dressed as a teddy boy and doing his best to look ‘cool’ with all his friends in front of the girls. Unbeknown to him, Sandy has not returned to Australia and is staying on to attend the same school. She immediately makes friends with a group of girls who are all unsurprisingly able to sing!

Neither of our two love-birds know of the proximity of the other but are re-introduced one evening in front of all their friends. Danny loses his cool momentarily before he re-establishes his teddy boy hard man act and really upsets Sandy who cannot believe this is the boy she fell in love with during the Summer break. Thus begins the turmoil of their on and off relationship around which all the songs are interwoven – a couple of the numbers are a bit dodgy but in the main they are very good. After all, “The One That I Want” was number one for eight weeks in the UK and “Summer Nights” seven weeks. There is a nice ‘drive-in’ movie sequence included which will no doubt appeal to many when considering the purchase of this feature.

A minor criticism could be that there is not much of a story but this is irrelevant. After all, when does lack of storyline ever affect a musical? A very repeatable movie that will keep you entertained for years.

To add to your enjoyment here’s some Grease trivia… Henry Winkler, who was playing Fonzie on “Happy Days” was originally supposed to play Danny but didn't for fear of being typecast.

Due to a zipper breaking, Olivia Newton-John had to be sewn into the trousers she wears in the last sequence (the carnival at Rydell).

Jeff Conaway had to walk slightly stooped so that John Travolta would appear taller.

Those of us lucky enough to have attended the May 5th BFCC (where the film was showcased with several musical extracts during the scope show) will know how good the print quality of this release is. However, for those that weren’t the print is up there with the best of the scope releases, akin to such greats as the Die Hard series, Terminator 2 and Alien. No sideways movement on this review copy and very little negative damage or marks to speak of. Very sharp, crisp and clean from beginning to end. I imagine the master for this came from the recent theatrical anniversary release of the film for which a new negative was struck. The sound is mono but of very good quality and ran in sync throughout. Looks like any faults that afflicted some of the releases in recent years could be a thing of the past. Well done Derek for sorting the problems out.

Of course, if you can’t afford the feature Derann have already released the 200ft extract reviewed previously and Independent 8 put out the re-release trailer. Why not buy them both before you save up for the full length print? That’s enough of all this nonsense from me, just buy it and treat your audiences to another worthy Super 8 classic.

Print A/A* Sound A John Clancy