Sog.: dal musical omonimo di Jim Jacobs e Warren Casey. Scen.: Bronte Woodard. F.: Bill Butler. M.: John F. Burnett. Scgf.: Phil Jefferies. Mus.: Jim Jacobs, Warren Casey, Barry Gibb, Louis St. Louis, John Farrar. Int.: John Travolta (Danny), Olivia Newton-John (Sandy), Stockard Channing (Rizzo), Jeff Conaway (Kenickie), Barry Pearl (Doody), Michael Tucci (Sonny), Kelly Ward (Putzie), Didi Conn (Frenchy), Jamie Donnelly (Jan), Dinah Manoff (Marty). Prod.: Allan Carr Enterprises, Inc., Stigwood Group, Ltd.. DCP. D.: 110’. Col.
During the 1970s American cinema revisited its imaginary land of youth. The best results included elegies to the last picture show (Bogdanovich) or graffiti marking shadow lines (Lucas); then this high-school musical idyll showed up on screen and made a Broadway hit famous worldwide, sparking endless renditions, professional and amateur alike, on stages everywhere. Written right into its title and still glossy after forty years, Grease’s slick charm owes much of its appeal to being an end of school musical, to its aura of vintage comics and to its playful mockery of false American innocence (Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee / lousy with virginity, are the words of Stockard Channing’s leading character of the cool clique). A nostalgic view was in vogue at the time, but there is little nostalgia here; Grease is a costume party, a carnival as proclaimed by the banner on the walls of Rydell High, where actors in their thirties are dressed up as high school kids. At twenty-four, John Travolta was the youngest cast member; part of the background of the Broadway show’s repeat performances in 1971, he rode the wave of his Saturday Night success to the role of Danny Zuko. And that name would be no less significant than the anguished Tony Manero to the creation of a legend.
Grease is a movie (like many others, luckily) that is loved beyond its merits. It thrives on its own physical energy and infectious euphoria. The cascading allusions convey a sexual exuberance that was about to be the theme of the era. It ages well, and it does not hurt that its campiness grows as the years pass. But perhaps the truth is that it is simply the last true musical (not even La La Land can change that, despite surpassing Grease’s orchestration and visual beauty): in other words, the last musical whose songbook (from Summer Nights to Hopelessly Devoted to You to You’re the One That I Want) has entered into collective memory.