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Grease is a 1978 film directed by Randal Kleiser and based on Jim Jacobs' and Warren Casey's musical, Grease. The film stars John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway, and Eve Arden.


The film opens with an animated credits sequence accompanied by the theme song, "Grease", composed expressly for the film by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees and performed by Frankie Valli.

In 1959, during their summer vacation, Danny Zuko (Travolta) and Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) meet at a beach and begin to fall in love. Instead of returning to Australia at summer's end, however, Sandy enrolls at Rydell High School as a foreign-exchange student, where Danny is a student. So is Sandy's new friend Frenchy (Didi Conn), a member of the schoolgirl clique "The Pink Ladies". Danny is the leader of the boys' gang, "The T-Birds". Kenickie, second-in-command of the T-Birds (and Danny's best friend), encourages Danny to tell them about his holiday experiences, while the Pink Ladies likewise persuade Sandy. This results in "Summer Nights."

Encouraged by preppy school spirit girl Patty Simcox, Sandy joins the Rydell cheerleaders. The Pink Ladies decide to reunite Danny and Sandy, but Danny wants to protect his cool image, and his behavior towards Sandy causes her to storm off in tears.

Frenchy attempts to cheer Sandy up by inviting her to a sleepover at her house with the rest of the pink ladies: Jan (Jamie Donnelly), Marty Maraschino (Dinah Manoff), and Betty Rizzo (Stockard Channing). Rizzo, however, soon gets fed up with Sandy's goody-two-shoes behavior. Frenchy announces that she is dropping out of Rydell and going to beauty school. Rizzo lampoons Sandy, singing the sarcastic "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee". When the T-Birds arrive outside Frenchy's house, Rizzo and Kenickie (Jeff Conaway) flirt then leave. After the party splits up, Sandy decides that she still loves Danny, in spite of everything, and sings "Hopelessly Devoted to You", a poignant love song that was added for the movie and was a big hit as a single. Rizzo and Kenickie are making love to each other and Kenickie's condom breaks but they continue to make love to each other and they are interrupted when the leader of a rival gang, Leo (Dennis Cleveland Stewart) of The Scorpions, and his girlfriend, Cha Cha DiGregorio (Annette Charles), damage Kenickie's car.

Whilst repairing the car, the T-Birds fantasize about what it will look like after a paint job, singing "Greased Lightning".

Danny meets Sandy at the Frosty Palace (the local ice cream parlor that serves as the local teens' hangout), and tries to apologize for his poor deportment. When he sees that Sandy is sharing a soda with a jock (Lorenzo Lamas), Danny decides that he's going to join the jocks to impress her. After disastrous performances in basketball, wrestling, and baseball - where he keeps losing his temper when he loses - he finally finds his ideal sport in cross country, until the sight of Sandy distracts him and he falls. Sandy comes to see if Danny is all right, and they are seemingly reconciled.

Danny attempts to go to the Frosty Palace with Sandy so that they can be alone and not worry about ruining his image in front of his friends. What they didn't know was that the T-Birds and Pink Ladies are already there, and Danny finds it hard to charm Sandy without looking like a sissy in front of his friends. After everyone leaves the malt shop, Frenchy imagines a guardian angel telling her what to do with her life, and Frankie Avalon sings "Beauty School Dropout".

Later, Danny takes Sandy to the school's dance, where the TV show National Bandstand plans to broadcast live from the school's gymnasium with millions of Americans watching. When Kenickie asks Cha Cha to the dance, Rizzo retaliates and asks out the rival gang's leader Leo. The dance features several well-known songs from the '50s covered by Sha Na Na. During the dance-off, Rizzo leaves in a huff, seeing Kenickie dancing with Cha Cha, and Danny and Sandy are one of the few still in the dance-off. But soon, Sonny pulls Sandy away from Danny, and Cha Cha starts dancing with Danny. Sandy realizes that Cha Cha was one of Danny's past girlfriends — and a much better dancer. Sandy leaves the gym upset, and Danny and Cha Cha win the contest. When they share their spotlight dance, the T-Birds (minus Kenickie) run in front of the camera and moon the crowd and America as "Blue Moon" is playing.

Later, Danny takes Sandy to a drive-in movie, apologizes for leaving her, and gives her his class ring. Inside the drive-in toilets, Rizzo tells Marty that her unprotected sex with Kenickie has come back to haunt her — she has missed a period. Sonny of the T-Birds overhears and gets the story, leading to a chain effect that makes it common knowledge. When Kenickie asks Rizzo why she didn't tell him about it, she lies out of anger and tells him it isn't his. Back in the car, Danny starts trying to make out with Sandy. She raises a ruckus, throws back his ring (which she calls a "piece of tin"), and leaves. Danny laments losing Sandy again, and reveals the true extent of his feelings for her in the song "Sandy" — he is helpless without her.

Because of a mishap before a race in the Los Angeles River, Danny races Leo in Kenickie's place while Sandy sits on the hill watching. While she is happy to see Danny win the neck-and-neck race, she has misgivings about her own image, reflected in the song "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee (Reprise)". As the T-Birds and Pink Ladies (except Rizzo who didn't show up) celebrate with Danny, Sandy asks Frenchy's help in winning Danny's heart.

On the last day of the school carnival, Danny has followed through on his track jock plans and arrives in a preppy letter sweater. However, Sandy arrives in full greaser-girl apparel — no more goody-two-shoes. Danny falls at her feet and the two reunite, singing the upbeat "You're the One That I Want" (another song added for the movie, and a hit single before the movie even came out). Rizzo and Kenickie get together after Rizzo has screamed from the Ferris wheel that she is not pregnant after all, and everyone sings the big finale, "We Go Together." Sandy and Danny fly off in a car and disappear into the sky, probably an image to symbolize how being in love can make one feel like he or she is flying. Everybody waves goodbye and the end credits start in the style of a yearbook with Grease being sung again by Frankie Valli.


The T-Birds

The Pink Ladies

Special Guest Apperances



Singer Olivia Newton-John had done little acting before this film. She appeared in the 1970 film Toomorrow - a science fiction musical that pre-dated her initial chart success with 1971's If Not For You. Cast with Newton-John and three male leads in an attempt by Don Kirshner to create another Monkees, the film failed miserably; this led Newton-John to demand a screen test for Grease to avoid another career setback. The screen test was done with the drive-in movie scene.

Randal Kleiser directed John Travolta in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble two years prior to Grease.

Two actors who were seen for the film were Henry Winkler and Marie Osmond. Winkler, who was playing Fonzie on Happy Days, was originally chosen to play Danny, but, having twice already played similarly leather-clad 1950s hoods in 1974's The Lords of Flatbush as well as Happy Days, turned down the role for fear of being typecast. Osmond turned down the role of Sandy because she did not like the fact that Sandy had to "turn bad" to get the boy. Adult film star Harry Reems was originally signed to play Coach Calhoun; however, producers got cold feet weeks before filming and replaced him with Sid Caesar.

Rookie actress Dinah Manoff, who was only 19 years old during the filming of Grease making her the youngest of all actresses in the film, passed her audition without being given a singing or dancing tryout. Her skills in those areas proved limited, so she was moved into the background during the song numbers. Manoff also appeared on a 1976 episode of Welcome Back Kotter when John Travolta was still on the show.


  • Danny's blue windbreaker at the beginning of the film was intended as a nod to Rebel Without a Cause (1955).
  • Because of a zipper breaking, Olivia Newton-John had to be sewn into the pants she wears in the last scene (the carnival at Rydell), and was unable to remove the trousers until the filming of that scene was over.
  • Stockard Channing's original costume was going to be a purple blouse and green skirt. Unfortunately, it was a bad fit and she had to wear black and did so within the first 20 minutes of the film, the first Frosty Palace scene and during the announcements on the last day.
  • Didi Conn was originally to dye her hair golden, but refused. She also refused to have her hair dyed blue at the Carnival ending, stating in the DVD that she was supposed to explain to the group that she got into a pool that contained too much chlorine (referencing a joke from the original play) and colored her hair into a bright blue color. She refused, stating in the interview "Don't turn me into a joke."

Deleted Scenes

Some scenes were edited out for timing issues and stored in Paramount's vaults since 1978. Those scenes were included in the Rockin' Rydell Edition but only in black and white.

  • While the T-birds talk to Eugene, Sonny calls him fruit boots and steps on his foot. Eugene paints his shoe.
  • During the Morning Announcements, Principle McGee talks about raising the prices of lunch yearbook pictures and senior rings as well as Flu Shots and Chest X-rays to be administered by Nurse Wilkins. In Biology, we find out that the frog Kenickie would eventually put in Patty Simcox's purse comes from a jar. Kenickie would say to Danny and Putzie: "Hey, kiss it. Maybe it'll turn into a princess." It's a reference to the frog prince story. In Mrs. Murdock's class, the card game between Doody and Sonny and Jan and Rizzo goes too far after Doody puts a gun on the table.
  • During lunch, after Marty asks Rizzo if her glasses make her look smarter, she threatens to put Rice Pudding down Rizzo's Bra. Jan takes it. Frenchy calls the chipped beef "Barf on a Bun." Marty says the girls have "halitosis of the vocabulary". Frenchy and Marty start arguing but Rizzo stops them.
  • Jan says something nasty about Sandy and Patty being lifelong friends when it comes to cheerleading. Rizzo goes to have a viceroy on the veranda after Marty's diamond falls in the macaroni.
  • Marty tells about the time her mother grounds her for two weeks, Rizzo returns and then Sandy is asked about Summer Vacation.
  • At the saturday night bonfire, Blanche asks Mcgee about her notes. Mcgee claims she does not need them. After introducing Coach Calhoun, Jan calls him Coach Spitoon. The coach apologizes to Blanche and McGee after saying H-E-Double hockey sticks.
  • At Frosty Palace, Kenickie tells Vi, the waitress to pick up a cherry while serving an ice cream.
  • At the dance, Leo tells Rizzo that nobody moves in on Cha Cha. Rizzo then answers back "Nobody has to".
  • During the warm up numbers Mr. Rudie tells Eugene that the show starts in 5 minutes. Eugene asks to make it 10 minutes. Mr Rudie tells him that the show is live.
  • Also at the dance, two male students start a Jerry Springer like fight. Mcgee and Coach Calhoun break it up and tell them to settle it on the parking lot. Mrs Murdock tells Mr. Rudie that she admires his functions. He says that the chaperon line is nearby. Murdock then says that Mr. Rudie should think of her as one of the boys. Marty, after talking with Vince Fontaine, the dance judge, puts her shoe back on. Kenickie tells Cha Cha to remember who she's with. But she has lots of interests. Kenickie already has what she wanted.
  • On Thunder Road, Marty lets Kenickie know about bad luck when it comes to picking up pennies off the ground after he gets knocked out by Putzie opening the car door. Kenickie answers back "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all".



Although Travolta was already famous from the movie Saturday Night Fever and the television sitcom Welcome Back Kotter, Grease reconfirmed his status as a superstar. Newton-John's fame also reached new heights after the movie released. The movie received five Golden Globe Award nominations in 1979 and the highest grossing movie of 1978 and the highest grossing movie musical at the time.

The movie's soundtrack was a number one album in many different countries. The song "You're The One That I Want" was released as a single prior to the film's release and became an immediate chart-topper, despite not being in the stage show or having been seen in the film at that time. In the United Kingdommarker, the two Travolta/Newton-John duets, "You're The One That I Want" and "Summer Nights", were both number one hits and appear 6th and 21st respectively in the official all-time UK best-selling singles list issued in 2002. The song "Hopelessly Devoted to You" was nominated for an Academy Award (1979) for Best Music - Original Song. The movie's title song was also a number one smash hit single for Frankie Valli.

Grease spawned a sequel, Grease 2 (1982) (with the only cast members from the original movie being Blanche, Coach Calhoun, Eugene, Frenchy, Leo (the Scorpions' gang leader), and Principal McGee) that was much less successful. Patricia Birch, the original movie's choreographer, directed the ill-fated sequel. It would be the only movie that she would direct. After the success of the original, Paramount intended to turn Grease into a multi-picture franchise with at least three sequels planned and a TV series in the pipeline. When Grease 2 flopped at the box office, all the plans were scrapped.

This movie was re-released to theaters in 1998 to mark the 20th anniversary. It also ranked number 21 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies.

Voted the best musical ever on Channel 4's 100 greatest musicals.


  • The song "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" references Sal Mineo in the original stage version. Mineo was stabbed to death a year before filming, so the line was changed to refer to Elvis Presley instead. The Troy Donahue reference is in the original stage version.

(The song order on the soundtrack album does not match the order in the movie (common practice in those days for movie soundtrack records). The number in brackets below indicates the order from the movie. Some of the songs were not present in the movie.)
  1. [02] GreaseFrankie Valli
  2. [03] Summer Nights — Danny, Sandy, Pink Ladies and the T-Birds
  3. [04] Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee - Rizzo and the Pink Ladies
  4. [05] Hopelessly Devoted to You — Sandy
  5. [06] Greased Lightning — Danny and the T-Birds
  6. [22] You're the One That I Want — Danny and Sandy
  7. [18] Sandy (Music by Louis St. Louis, Lyrics by Scott J. Simon) — Danny
  8. [09] Beauty School Dropout — Frankie Avalon / Angels
  9. [07] It's Raining on Prom Night — Radio
  10. [08] Alone at the Drive-in Movie (instrumental, see below for details)
  11. [17] Blue Moon (Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart) — Johnny
  12. [11] Rock n' Roll is Here to Stay (D. White) — Johnny
  13. [12] Those Magic Changes — Johnny and Danny
  14. [14] Hound Dog (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller) — Johnny
  15. [15] Born to Hand Jive — Johnny and Cast
  16. [13] Tears on My Pillow (S. Bradford and A. Lewis) — Johnny
  17. [16] Mooning — Jan and Roger
  18. [19] Freddy, My Love — Marty
  19. [10] Rock n' Roll Party Queen — Radio
  20. [20] There Are Worse Things I Could Do — Rizzo
  21. [21] Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee (Reprise) — Sandy
  22. [23] We Go Together — Danny, Sandy, Rizzo, Kenickie, Marty, Sonny, Jan, Putzie, Doody, Frenchy, Eugene, Patty, Miss Mcgee, Mr Lynch and Coach
  23. [01] Love is a Many Splendored Thing (Instrumental)
  24. [24] Grease (Reprise) — Frankie Valli

Also appearing in the movie are La Bamba by Richie Valens (sung by Rizzo and Marty in the school lunch yard) and Whole Lotta Shaking Going on by Jerry Lee Lewis (juke box at Frosties) but these songs do not appear on the sound track.

In Pop Culture

  • In the That '70s show episode "The Kids are alright", Jackie has a dream sequence of her (dressed in Sandy's greaser-girl outfit) and Hyde dubbed with Travolta and Newton-John's voices singing "You're the one that I want".
  • In the Family Guy episode Let's Go to the Hop, Peter says, "Let me tell you about it, stud." which is similar to the line "Tell me about, stud." and the music number that follows is similar to "You're the one that I want".
  • In the Family Guy episode The Man with Two Brians Lois and New Brian sing "Summer Nights" on a karaoke machine.


Grease was originally released to theatres on June 16, 1978. It was released in the U.S. on VHS during the 1980s; the latest VHS release was June 23, 1998 as 20th Anniversary Edition following a theatrical re-release that March. On September 24, 2002, it was released on DVD for the first time. On September 19, 2006, it was re-released on DVD as the Rockin' Rydell Edition, which includes a black Rydell High T-Bird jacket cover or the Target-exclusive Pink Ladies cover. It was released on Blu-Ray on May 5, 2009.


  1. VH1's "Behind the Music: Grease"
  3. 100 Greatest Musicals: Channel 4 Film
  4. comment by Daniel J. Hamlow for Grease (Original 1978 Motion Picture Soundtrack).

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