In 1978, Grease took us all back to the '50s for a good old song and dance, with a good helping of romance thrown in, too. The film tells the tale of Danny and Sandy, two love- struck teens, who meet during summer vacation, only to find themselves at the same high school. Over the academic year, the pair have their ups and downs, supported along the way by the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies.
This film had it all—romance, dancing, sports, cars—which has given it global appeal (so much so, that almost 40 years later, it is still a top musical). The year 2016 even saw the film remade into the TV movie, Grease Live (but it could never be as good as the real thing).
15 They have a dance-off
This wasn’t any old high school dance, it was a national dance-off and helped kick off Rydell’s social calendar. A lot of high school dances are rather tame affairs, with a bowl of face punch, a low budget DJ and a teacher having to work as the ring leader (supposedly after having lost some sort of staff bet). But, that’s not how they do it at Rydell, this dance-off was hosted by radio personality Vince Fontaine (much to the excitement of many of the female students). Vince doesn’t just host the event, he is also acting as the host, since the dance is broadcast nationally. Though, given the fashion faux-pas many make in high school, having video evidence might not have been the best thing.
14 Winning isn’t everything
While some of Grease’s moral standings might be a tad on the old-fashioned side (ladies, please note that changing everything about yourself to win over a man is not the best plan in the world), they have got the right message on winning. During the national dance-off, Vince Fontaine proclaims, "It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s what you do with your dancing shoes."
Who cares if you aren’t the best dancer in the world, it shouldn’t stop you from dancing to your heart's content. Is there a better feeling than dancing like no one’s watching? Though, if you are at a dance, people are watching, so just keep this in mind.
13 Frenchy’s advice
Frenchy truly is the most underrated character in Grease, she is everything you need in a gal pal. From makeup tips to drying your tears after a breakup, she is always there for her friends. While the rest of the Pink Ladies look down on Sandy and her sweet ways, Frenchy stands by her and offers her support. After one of Danny’s many hurtful acts towards sweet little Sandy, Frenchy offers the following advice: "Men are rats. Listen to me, they’re fleas on rats. Worse than that, they’re amoebas on fleas on rats. I mean, they’re too low for even the dogs to bite. The only man a girl can depend on is her daddy." Could you ask for any better words of wisdom?
12 The diner
The T-Birds and Pink Ladies like to spend their down time hanging at the local diner, which might just be the coolest eatery in town. Far before the days of hipster chic, with their deconstructed recipes and LA salads, the diner was the coolest place to be. This was the '50s, so no one cared about calories and superfoods. The place is full of brightly-colored milkshakes and greasy burgers (basically food heaven). The fun doesn’t stop there, the décor looks like there has been an explosion in a candy factory, the waitresses look like the sweetest old ladies in the world and, most importantly, for the youth of Rydell High, this was a great place to take your date for a fancy night out.
11 Sandy’s transformation
The ugly duckling to graceful swan transformation is a classic device used in films, from Cinderella to The Princess Diaries. Everyone likes the idea that they could be transformed in a few minutes. Seeing that Sandra Dee looked pretty impressive to start with, Frenchy didn’t really have her work cut out making her look beautiful. The main problem was changing this demure beauty into a woman that would fit Danny Zuko’s requirements.
But, despite the task at hand, Frenchy was able to transform the leading lady from sweet as can be to smoking hot between scenes. From Danny’s reaction, it seems that he approves of her new look (that lucky guy!). We wonder if Frenchy has any appointments for makeovers…
10 It embraced women of all ages
Despite taking on the role of a High School student, Stockard Channing—who delivered an outstanding performance as Rizzo—was 34 years old when she filmed Grease. Modern filmmakers are often berated for using young actresses and discounting anyone with even the faintest wrinkle. But, the casting crew behind Grease were rather open-minded when it came to age, allowing Channing to take on the role of a girl half her age. No matter what her age, Rizzo stole the show as the leader of The Pink Ladies (even if she was a bit of a bully towards Miss Dee). She may not have been as sweet as Sandy, but she wasn’t afraid to be herself and to sing about it.
9 The T-Birds and Pink Ladies
What could be cooler than being a member of the T-Birds or Pink Ladies? Nothing, that’s what. These ‘gangs’ had a love-hate relationship, but that is often the case with high school students all fired up with hormones and more emotions than they know what to do with. At the start of the film, we see the Pink Ladies unable to contain their excitement at being seniors, with Rizzo triumphantly announcing "we’re gonna rule the school," before breaking out into a wicked cackle.
These two rival gangs remind us of those in West Side Story (1961), feuding away and dancing as they do so. Thankfully, the cast of Grease enjoy a much happier ending than the unfortunate victims in West Side Story.
8 The ‘gang’ members have jackets
How can you tell a T-Bird from a Pink Lady (aside from the obvious)? Because of their super awesome jackets. The only thing better than being in a select group is having your own dress code, so that everyone knows who you are. How else would the Pink Ladies be able to rule the school?
Not only do these two groups have their own signatures jackets, emblazoned with their names on the backs, they also have stylized transport. The Pink Ladies keep the pink theme going by driving around in a cotton-candy-coloured Studebaker Commander. Meanwhile, the T-Birds kept their edgy look going by driving around in none other than Grease Lightning (no wonder the guys had the girl swooning while they were driving around in this).
7 They dance on cars
Most people think musicals are just for girls and that there is nothing macho to be found in any of them. Well, these people are just wrong, Grease has plenty of macho charm. While cars may not be a focal points of musicals on the whole, Grease aims to change this and even shoots a whole scene in a garage. This scene sees the T-Birds prepping Grease Lightning for the big race and they just can’t help themselves bursting into song while they do so. The T-Birds are here to show you that there is nothing girly about singing and dancing, even mechanics can get their dance on every now and then. We know what you’re really up to in the garage, guys.
6 They burst into song
So, obviously this isn’t just something that happens in Grease, it is what musicals are made for, but it’s still worth celebrating. Some people seem to have anger towards the entire musical genre, feeling that they are unrealistic because people don’t just burst into song and dance in real life. Really? This happens at our house all the time and there’s nothing wrong with spontaneously singing. After all, life is tough enough without having to restrain your love of all things musical. In recent years, there has been a rise in the popularity of spontaneous public dancing in the form of flash mobs. These involve a number of people meeting together in a public place and suddenly begin an impromptu performance. What were you haters saying again?
5 Frenchy foresaw the pink hair trend
After leaving high school to pursue her dreams of being a beautician, Frenchy admits defeat and drops out of beauty school, cue a beautiful musical number, after suffering somewhat of a disaster with her hair.
She doesn’t dare show her friends the states of her locks and instead, confides in the dear old lady working at the diner, who points out that she looks like an Easter egg. Frenchy may have thought this was a disaster and clearly the dye job hadn’t gone to plan, but today she would be bang-on trend (with stars like Kylie Jenner, Katy Perry and even Zayn Malik daring to don a head of candy-colored hair). Shame she was a few decades early, either way she looks adorable to us.
4 The amazing hairstyles
Frenchy isn’t the only one rocking a killer 'do during the film; the whole cast look like they have spent hours in hair and makeup. The guys were all fans of the classic '50s quiff—a style brought into fashion by singing sensation and teen heartthrob, Elvis Presley. As a bunch of guys keen to keep up with the latest fashions, they always had a comb up their sleeve.
Meanwhile, the women were rocking even more high flying 'dos. The amount of curlers being used in the hair department must have been astonishing. The most high maintenance style of the lot was Jan’s. Having gone grey at an early age, Jamie Donnelly had to dye her hair black and topped up her roots on a daily basis!
3 The songs
A musical is nothing without a knockout soundtrack to hold it together and boy, does this film have an epic soundtrack (meaning all veteran viewers can’t stop singing from the first lines of "Grease (is the word)" to the last of "We Go Together"). The majority of the films standout tracks were written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, including "Summer Night" and "Grease Lightning." But, it wasn’t the work of these two expert writers that got the film an Oscar nod—that was the work of John Farrar. Farrar’s "Hopelessly Devoted to You" won the film’s Oscar nomination, along with the excellent performance from Olivia Newton-John.
One thing's for sure, no school disco would have been the same without the Grease mega mix!
2 It's the best school musical
School musicals, in general, are just amazing things. Amidst the horrors of having to sit and do maths for hours on end, wearing rubbish uniforms and feeling like you are only moments away from getting into trouble for some unknown reason, there is always the solace of the school musical. It's the one event of the year where the artsy kids finally feel like they fit in, even if it is just for a few days. The one musical everyone wanted to do? Grease, of course! Not least because, as well as being the best musical of all time, it is set in a school. Could there be a more fitting musical to put on as a school performance?
1 Happy ending
Now, we know that life doesn’t always have happy endings and if you want to win big at the award ceremonies, then a sad ending with people weeping will probably be your best bet. But, life is tough enough; we need something happy to cheer up our days. Not only do the gang all make up and graduate (despite having spent most of the year singing, rather than doing any actual work), they end on yet another pitch perfect musical performance. But, even this isn’t the best bit. While people usually just talk of couples riding off into the sunset, Sandy and Danny actually do ride off into the sunset. Not only that, but Grease Lightning actually flies away—best ending ever!