Grease: Charming or to Risqué to be set in the 50’s

The film, Grease is an American classic released in the late 70’s by Paramount Pictures. The film was originally produced by Randal Kleiser and was based on a Broadway musical titled Grease. The film is quite racy and fun. Well known and loved stars, John Travolta and Olivia Newton John star in the hit movie playing the lead rolls of Danny Zuko and Sandy Olson .The lead actors embark on a summer romance that rolls over into their high school senior year at Riddell High. Summer loving happened so fast; they have no idea they will soon be reunited at the most critical times of their life, fall in love, learn some life lessons, and grow some along the way. Grease is a well- loved American classic that reminds you of the good old’ days while hitting on everyday struggles and romances for the American teen. Sandy meets a boy she finds cute as can be and Danny says they made out down in the sand. The film has scenes that are both Charming and Risqué for the time that it was written. There are many funny quotes used by fellow actors, such as “A hickey from Knickey is like a hallmark card.” Many different relationship issues are hit upon in this film. There are scenes that are funny, sad, comical, serious, and more. The movie depicts the life of high school teenagers trudging through the hard times of transitioning from adolescents into young adults about to graduate high school. Grease is an all-time favorite, must see movie.

The film focus’ on the struggles that many teens face even now. Teens have always faced challenges of dealing with cliques and trying to fit in. The film shows how great the importance of popularity is to society even back in the 50’s. The movie shows how feelings can be misread, and how barriers of background and friends can be crossed to be together. Danny and Sandy are an example of many typical American teens. There might be a flicker of interest there, however social status can stand in the way of two people fulfilling the desire to be together as a couple. The movie is a classic that never gets old. In the opening scenes, it is just the two of them, Danny and Sandy being young and carefree. As the scenes evolve you will note how social status stands in the way of the two of them being reunited.

In one of the first scenes in the movie, Stockard Channing, “Rizzo”, Dinah Manoff “Marty”, and Jamie Donnelly “Jan” are seen approaching their school, Riddell High for the last first day of school as Seniors. The girls’ comment “Jan that’s so adolescent” her response “we are adolescents, but we don’t have to flaunt it.” This is typical attitude for many young people who are going into school for their last first day of high school. They are hung between still being kids and wanting to appear cool and acting grown up. The appearance of being the leader of their peers for the final years of school is still truly relevant, even today. The movie clearly depicts the way groups of people divide and are considered a clique. Few people today can say that they openly accept everyone.

Seniors have always been labeled to “Rule the School”. The example set by Senior students is often set and sought after by the younger classmen. The movie is a good example of how the Senior class is looked up to and how the older students have learned the loopholes of getting away with mischief in school. The “cool” kids in the movie are known to skip school and that is something that still happens in modern days known as senior skip day. In the film the students know how to get away with mischief in class and are the rulers of the school. Do you remember science class and dissecting rats? Do you remember thinking how funny it would be to scare the girls or to upset the teacher by letting the reptile go. In a scene in the movie a classmate scares head-cheerleader Patty by putting the live mouse near her. Silly class pranks have always been a part of being in school. Many of the best high school memories are surrounded by the silly pranks. Most class year books, or video books document the scenes for you to fall back on in later days.

In a scene from the movie, Danny and Sandy reflect on their memories of Summer nights. The scene is both romantic and risqué as they both recall and share the things that happened during their summer romance. Sandy shares her story portraying Danny as a gentleman, while Danny gives the impression to his buddies that he and Sandy had a very physical relationship during their summer together. Sandy says, “I met a boy, he was sort of special, it was really romantic.” Danny gives a quite different idea telling his buddies, “We made out under the docks” and “she was good you know what I mean.” The intuition made by both creates an image of the person to the ones listening. In real life, this happens to us as others describe situations and adlib to the story. A seemingly harmless added word or two can profoundly change how others might view you after hearing a story. In the movie, the girls were not expecting Sandy to be telling her love story about the Thunderbirds leader Danny Zuko. In addition, the guys never would have pictured Danny’s summer love to be the “goodie good” Sandy Olson.

Danny Zuko is best known in the movie for his “cool” character. He rarely lets his guard down, and especially not in front of the guys. Danny is a great example of how young boys feel they must keep a cool appearance for their friends and disregard the feelings of the girls they are looking to impress. Sandy says in the movie that Danny is a fake and a phony and she wished she had never laid eyes on him. Danny’s friends follow it up with comments like “I bet that not all she’s laid on.” Danny does not correct his friends leaving them to believe that he had a more physical relationship with Sandy. The scene shows how misleading a simple comment can be in real life.

Many times, the influence of others can be the cost of relationships. The scene in the movie clearly illustrates the struggle to let your guard down in front of peers. Sandy saw Danny as a sweet, kind, romantic boy, however Danny could not chance his reputation by letting the guys at his school see him with his guard down. Both Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsen are examples of the classic bad boy and the law abiding, goodie good cheerleader. For years it has been considered taboo for the two to be together. The two are labeled partly from their background and partly from their appearance, choice of sports or lack of, grades, friends, etc. This type of bias continues today, almost fifty years later. In almost all situations people are judged and criticized for their social standings or lack of. The scene where Danny sees Sandy for the first time after thinking that she has gone back to Australia is a great example of how people do not agree with certain “types” to be together. The reaction of the friends in the scene has a great influence over how Danny’s attitude changes and although he is excited to see Sandy, he acts calloused and none caring to please his peers. This scene is a great example when trying to explain to my

teenage son how he is acting in front of friends. I can point out the change of attitude due to the nature of the audience. I can more easily relate to the scene when looking back on my own high school days. The writer did a great job including emotion that hits all levels. The movie is very relatable and homes in on lots of emotions we go through as adolescents.

Such comments could be detrimental to the reputation of a young girl or boy. Grease truly exemplifies the struggles encountered by young people trying to find a way to fit in. In the movie Sandy Olson portrays the goody good girl. The others in the group all make fun of her for having good wholesome values. To try to get Danny to fall for her she puts her own beliefs aside and transforms herself into what she thinks Danny is looking for. She changes her clean-cut appearance of a good girl to that of a bad girl who would fit into the group “pink ladies” in the movie. Sandy gets her ears pierced, attempts drinking, smoking and changes into a more provocative wardrobe appearance of tight fit leather and high heels. She does all of this to try to get the attention of the boy she has fallen for in hopes that he will accept her and want to be with her. This is a great example of the struggle’s teens face. Marketing ads and television all make it appear that you need to be “cool” to fit in and be accepted.

In the film, Danny also decides to clean up his reputation and appearance. He decides to try out for different sports teams in hopes to get a letter jacket to impress his girl. Many times communication is overlooked and as the movie says “you are the one that I want” is misread and you falsely think that you have to change yourself for someone else to accept you. Being a teen is hard. Learning relationships is hard. Doing both things together is extremely hard to learn to manipulate. The ending of the movie clearly shows that different backgrounds, beliefs, cliques, whatever can come together and be friends and love one another. Teens today have a hard time moving past the status to be with other people. In many ways we have revolved since the 50’s, however being a high school teenager really hasn’t changed much. The struggle to be accepted is still there. Kids are still dealing with acceptance from peers and adults along with trying to navigate their way into adulthood.

Danny and Sandy are a classic love story that everyone still wants to find. The struggles the two face are common of many young relationships even today. We may not all have big hair and wear skin- tight clothes or have greased back hair and a pack of cigarettes in our shirt pocket, but most young people want to live wild and seemingly carefree like Danny and Sandy. Long gone are the so called “good old’ days”. It is hard to explain to my children why school is not like it is in the movies. Kids cannot just be kids and have a good time. The movie is a great example of what used to be and what should still be. Kids should still have a Senior carnival, cruise around town, and just hang out with friends. The final clip in the movie is a great example of how it does not matter who you are or where you come from to be friends and be together. The writer did an excellent job closing the scenes and creating a happy ending.

I love how the film is written in a true to life way, with many common situations addressed in a more tasteful way. Many of the same situations the characters act out are situations teens experience daily. The movie does not require a lot of vulgar language to make it a classic, that is not to say that it is not a bit racy. The music is outstanding and makes the scenes easier to understand and follow. You can easily find yourself deeply engrossed and watch this movie over and over again. There are many scenes that do imply things that are inappropriate for young viewers, however it is done tastefully so that a younger audience would be clueless as to the adult humor. Why would I watch something over and over? The movie is done very tastefully and all though it does contain some adult humor it is done so in a way so most anyone can watch with a PG rating. Now of days, this is an exceptionally clean movie. Some of the cartoons I have seen are far more inappropriate and contain vulgar language and very racy scenes.




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