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Randal Kleiser
John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing
Writing Credits:
Jim Jacobs, Warren Casey

Good girl Sandy and greaser Danny fell in love over the summer. When they unexpectedly discover they're now in the same high school, will they be able to rekindle their romance?

Box Office:
Domestic Gross

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Audio Description
Latin Spanish Dolby 1.0
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
German Dolby 5.1
Italian Dolby 5.1
Brazilian Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Japanese Dolby 2.0
Brazilian Portuguese
Latin Spanish
Simplified Chinese
Supplements Subtitles:
Brazilian Portuguese
Latin Spanish
Simplified Chinese

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $22.98
Release Date: 4/24/2018

• Audio Commentary with Director Randal Kleiser and Choreographer Patricia Birch
• Introduction from Director Randal Kleiser
• “Rydell Sing-Along”
• “The Time, The Place, The Motion” Featurette
• “A Chicago Story” Featurette
• Alternate Animated Main Titles
• Alternate Ending
• 11 Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes
• “DVD Launch Party” Featurette
• “Grease Memories from John and Olivia” Featurette
• “The Moves Behind the Music” Featurette
• ”Thunder Roadsters” Featurette
• “John Travolta and Allan Carr ‘Grease Day’ Interview”
• “Olivia Newton-John and Robert Stigwood ‘Grease Day’ Interview”
• Trailer
• Photo Galleries


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Grease: 40th Anniversary Edition [Blu-Ray] (1978)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 8, 2018)

For an 11-year-old in 1978, Grease really was the word. My friends and I simply adored the flick, and I think I saw it something like six or seven times over the period of a few months.

Longtime readers may know of my aversion to musicals and wonder how this could be, but I simply had very different tastes back then. I liked then-modern pop/rock, but my formative experience occurred when I developed a huge interest in the Beatles in 1979.

Not coincidentally, my enjoyment of showtunes quickly dissipated. Heck, I once thought that Grease’s “Greased Lightning” totally rocked – what was wrong with me?

Of course, it wasn’t just me, as all of the kids worshiped Grease. In retrospect, I can’t quite figure out why we went so nuts about it.

I still love some movies that I adored in that era; as flicks like Jaws, Star Wars, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind remain among my favorites. Grease doesn’t merit status among that crowd, but I do still take some pleasure from it – nostalgic and otherwise.

Set in some unspecified late 1950s period, Grease primarily focuses on Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and Sandy Olsen (Olivia Newton-John), a pair of summer lovers. Once the academic term starts, the high school kids (ha! Newton-John was almost 30 at the time) assume they’ll never see each other again, but it so happens that new student Sandy arrives at Danny’s native Rydell High.

After a period in which we get to know the whole crew – which includes Danny’s T-Birds gang and the girls’ Pink Ladies – the two encounter each other. Unfortunately, Danny tries to act cool in front of his buddies, which cheeses off Sandy.

Danny regrets his jerkiness, so when Sandy starts to date a jock named Tom (Lorenzo Lamas), he goes out for sports. The pair dance together at a big competition, but a bimbo named Cha-cha (Annette Charles) ruins the night. Essentially, the story consists of a slew of different contrivances created solely to keep Danny and Sandy apart until the finale.

Of course, it tosses in some subplots as well. We see the rivalry between the T-Birds and the Scorpions, a gang led by scungy Leo (Dennis C. Stewart, the greasiest greaser in Grease).

We also watch the romantic connection between T-Bird Kenickie (Jeff Conaway) and head Lady Rizzo (Stockard Channing). Like a seedier Danny and Sandy, they go through their own fluctuations before they decide what to do with each other.

One complaint I often level at musicals stems from the amount of time the production numbers fill. For flicks like Oliver! or West Side Story, many of the songs last forever. No wonder many movie musicals fill two and a half to three hours of screen time, as the production numbers go to interminable lengths.

Happily, that doesn’t happen here. The film uses a pop/rock score, and those tunes generally don’t last more than two or three minutes.

Heck, during the era in question, pop tunes rarely were more than a couple of minutes long, as it wasn’t until the Sixties that songs started to stretch those boundaries more fully. Grease doesn’t totally stick to the two-minutes-and-out tradition of the Fifties, but it comes surprisingly close. Even the longest tune – “Hand Jive” – barely breaks the five-minute mark, and the vast majority go between two and four minutes.

Director Randal Kleiser keeps the action light and peppy enough to avoid the usual pitfalls. Even Singin’ in the Rain - my favorite musical – sags at times, notably during the ponderous 13-minute “Broadway Melody” sequence. Grease skips any of those huge segments and tends to move through the tracks pretty quickly, all of which helps make the project tighter and more efficient.

As a rock fan, I don’t consider the music of Grease to merit consideration within that genre. Grease features light, nostalgic pop that lacks the bite necessary to qualify as “real rock” - it shows too much of a Broadway influence to actually feel like rock.

Still, lots of the songs seem quite catchy and memorable. Some appear excessively kitschy – even at age 11, I never could stand the campy “Beauty School Dropout” – but tracks like “Summer Nights” and “You’re the One That I Want” sport a nice pop sheen that allows them to work.

Kleiser uses fairly standard musical staging for the numbers, but he manages to integrate them into the story pretty well. Unlike some numbers in other films, the tunes virtually always further the plot.

For instance, “Summer Nights” acts both as exposition and as character development. It communicates what happened with Danny and Sandy and offers clues as to the personalities of the pair and their friends.

Grease also succeeds due to its generally solid cast. Newton-John doesn’t seem like much of an actress, but she brings the necessary warmth and likeability to Sandy. Plus, she’s the only good singer in the bunch, which helps.

Travolta barely carries a tune, but his personality makes his turn as Danny a good one. He offers a funny lunkheaded charm that endears him to the audience even when he acts like a jerk. When you watch Grease, you get an idea why Travolta briefly became one of the world’s biggest movie stars.

As for the supporting players, all seem competent, but only Channing stands out from the crowd. Apparently the oldest of the group – at 34, she played a character roughly half her actual age! – Channing appears absolutely unconvincing as a high school student, but she brings so much pep and funny cynicism to Rizzo that you totally understand why they cast her anyway. Channing provides a lively and engaging performance that probably remains Grease’s best work.

All this and cult fave Eddie Deezen too! On the negative side, Grease seems awfully campy, and it rarely comes across as something genuinely inspired. It lacks the authentic feel of a period piece like American Graffiti and instead substitutes a totally mythical version of the Fifties.

Not that any of this matters, for Grease perseveres along with its legions of fans. I can’t call myself one of them, but I do enjoy the movie as a piece of light entertainment that reminds me of my youth.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B+

Grease appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a terrific little transfer.

Sharpness worked well. Iffy aspects of the source demonstrated occasional instances of softness, but those became unavoidable, and the image usually displayed excellent clarity.

Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, and edge enhancement was absent. Print flaws were completely non-existent as well, so I noticed no signs of source defects here.

Colors looked excellent. The image showed consistently vivid and vibrant hues that really stood out as dynamic.

Black levels consistently looked deep and rich, and shadow detail also was clear and appropriately rendered. Nighttime shots like those during and after the pep rally appeared clean and neat. This became a strong representation of the source.

As for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Grease, it seemed very appealing for its age. Except for the music, the soundfield remained fairly focused on the center channel. Usually the track offered little more than general ambience on the sides, though it also included a little directional dialogue.

The surrounds lacked much information, as they mostly provided reinforcement of the forward audio. A few scenes came to life well, such as during the pep rally.

The stereo presentation of the songs showed nice separation and delineation and offered the best aspects of the mix. The opening to the “Teen Angel” sequence also added nice use of the rear speakers, and the entire “Hand Jive” segment spread the music vividly to the surrounds.

The car race bit at the end even tossed in some split-surround material. However, those examples popped up pretty infrequently.

Audio quality was good, though dialogue was the weakest area. The lines remained intelligible and fairly natural, but they could seem a bit thin and edgy.

Many bits of dialogue were obviously looped, and they didn’t always integrate terribly well. Nonetheless, speech was perfectly adequate, especially given the film’s age.

Effects came across as fairly accurate and well defined. They could sound a little thin, but they usually displayed good clarity and depth.

Music was smooth, as the songs offered fine clarity and dynamics. Low-end worked well, as bass response added nice warmth. The audio often defied its age and worked nicely.

How did the 2018 “40th Anniversary” release compare to the original Blu-ray from 2009? Though both delivered Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks, the 2018 version restored the movie’s original six-track audio, so expect some changes there. I had no real complaints about the remix, but I felt the 1978 track felt a bit more natural and it showed stronger reproduction of the music.

As for the visuals, the 2018 disc also boasted improvements. I liked the 2009 Blu-ray but I thought the 2018 release appeared a bit smoother and more natural. While I was happy with the old disc, the new one fared better.

One other difference stems from a contentious bit of “censorship”. In all prior video versions of Grease, Coca-Cola signs got blurred in the Frosty Palace scene.

This occurred for reasons that appear to remain up for debate. The most common explanation seems to be that the movie’s producers worked out a deal with Pepsi after they’d already shot the sequences with the Coke signs so they needed to clumsily “block” them – though one remained, and they just hoped the folks at Pepsi wouldn't care.

An alternate explanation claims that the producers didn’t think to clear the signs with Coke, and the soft drink giant’s executives refused to give them permission to display the ads. Rather than reshoot this material, the producers just altered the offending material.

Various thoughts relate to whether or not the Coke signs ever appeared in their unaltered glory. Some believe the movie originally ran with the Coke ads intact, while others opine the art always got blurred.

Whatever the case may be, one will not find the Coke signs unaltered in the 40th Anniversary Blu-ray – but for the most part, one also won’t see blurred Coke art. One exception occurs, as we can still see a single fuzzy Coke painting in the background of the malt shop scene.

The other examples have used digital effects to either entirely remove the Coke imagery – in the case of one element – or to turn the Coke art into Pepsi signage. This will probably offend the purists, but I can’t claim it bothers me.

In a perfect world, the studio would’ve finally gotten permission from Coke to show the signs. Did they ask and still get rebuffed? Did they maintain a grudge and choose to favor Pepsi? Does the 40-year-old Pepsi contract still hold sway?

I have no idea, but the digitally-constructed Pepsi art integrates well – and sure looks better than the awkwardly blurred Coke signs. Maybe the movie’s 80th anniversary will bring restored Coke signs, but until/unless that happens, the Pepsi art seems like a decent compromise and an improvement over the clunky blurred Coke signs.

The 2018 Blu-ray duplicates the 2009 release and adds a few new components. We begin with an audio commentary from director Randal Kleiser and choreographer Patricia Birch, both of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They chat about cast and performances, sets and locations, music and production numbers, changes between the stage version and the movie, and general trivia.

This proves to be a pretty engaging little discussion. The pair interact well and offer a balanced discussion. I thought Kleiser would dominate, but Birch more than holds her own. They may concentrate too much on differences between the movie and the stage production – Kleiser constantly asks Birch about that – but the piece nonetheless informs and keeps us interested.

We can watch the film with an optional Introduction from Kleiser. In this 23-second clip, he does little more than say hello and welcome us to the flick. It’s pretty much worthless.

For a Karaoke take on the flick, you can watch it with the Rydell Sing-Along activated. This presents on-screen lyrics for most of the songs. These light up to let you follow the lyrics: blue for boys, pink for girls, and amber when both sexes croon. It’s a harmless and potentially fun feature.

A slew of video features follow, and we find a featuretteThe Time, The Place, The Motion: Remembering Grease. It runs 22 minutes, 26 seconds and features Kleiser, Birch, producers Allan Carr (in 1998) and Robert Stigwood, costume designer Albert Wolsky, director og photography Bill Butler, and actors John Travolta (1998), Didi Conn, Olivia Newton-John, Jeff Conaway, and Stockard Channing.

We get notes on the show’s move to the big screen and adaptation issues, how Kleiser and the cast came onto the project, performances and rehearsals, Carr’s impact on the set and shooting the musical numbers, costumes and various shot specifics, songs written specifically for the movie, and the flick’s success and legacy.

I’d love to see a comprehensive documentary about the creation of Grease, but “Motion” isn’t that program. It acts as a decent overview of various elements but it doesn’t sum up the production in a terrific manner. The show touches on enough useful pieces to maintain our interest; it just doesn’t go beyond that, unfortunately.

11 Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes fill a total of 10 minutes, 17 seconds. All of them are black and white; no color shots appear. Since they’re all pretty short, they don’t give us much new footage.

Most prolong existing scenes via the inclusion of minor tidbits. An extended montage that covers the principal’s first day of school announcements is probably the longest addition, but it doesn’t bring out anything interesting. Though I’m glad these scenes show up here for curiosity’s sake, I don’t think any of them are more than mildly compelling.

During the 15-minute, 13-second DVD Launch Party, we get a look at the 2002 event that commemorated the first DVD release of the flick. We find some remarks from Travolta, Conaway, Kleiser, Conn, Newton-John, and singer Frankie Avalon. They just offer the usual “it’s great to be here and the movie’s wonderful” notes typical of this sort of affair.

On a more interesting note, Olivia does a live version of “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, and she duets with Travolta on “You’re the One That I Want”. We also find a big group performance for “Summer Nights” that features all sorts of cast and crewmembers, though Newton-John and Travolta take their leads.

Happily, we get full renditions of all these and not just snippets. Those pieces are the real gold here, as it’s hard not to smile as we see John and Olivia romp through “Want”. I admit I didn’t expect much from this feature, but the tunes make it a lot of fun.

Three minutes, 23 seconds of Grease Memories from John and Olivia come next. They throw out some comments from the 2002 event as they enter.

Their statements stay in the generic mode; they tell us how they’re happy to be at the reunion and how much they still love the movie. It’s a snoozer of a featurette.

For a look at choreography, we get the eight-minute, 14-second The Moves Behind the Music. It includes Birch, Kleiser, Butler, Conaway, Newton-John, Wolsky and Conn.

We find notes about adapting the musical numbers for the big screen and elements of various production pieces as well as info about the movie’s dance troupe. A few good factoids appear here, but “Moves” is too short and too general to be terribly effective.

Thunder Roadsters lasts five minutes, 22 seconds and presents notes from “King of the Kustomizers” George Barris, car builder/customizer Michael Astamendi, and customizers Bob Money, Mark Gerson, Tom McCourry, and Ray Petri.

We learn a little about the creation of the fantasy Greased Lightnin’, but mostly we just hear about how much guys love to customize their cars. This never becomes very interesting.

Two sets of Grease Day Interviews appear next. We get one clip with John Travolta and Allan Carr (1:48) and another with Olivia Newton-John and Robert Stigwood (2:06).

These segments date from movie’s 1978 premiere. Travolta talks about how he got into acting and his history with Grease, while Newton-John talks about the show, her character, her musical influences, working with Travolta, and seeing herself on the big screen. Both are nice to have as archival pieces, but they don’t tell us much.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a collection of Photo Galleries. These break into four areas: “Rydell High Year Book” (36 stills), “Production” (12), “Premiere” (18), and “Grease Day” (6). These mix a smattering of fun shots – especially from the premiere – with some bland images. Don’t expect a lot of great stuff.

The 2018 “40th Anniversary” Blu-ray brings a few new extras, and fans will feel most curious to see am Alternate Ending. It goes for 45 seconds – half of which shows text from Kleiser.

So the actual footage lasts a mere 23 seconds and it simply extends the existing scene. Here we see Danny and Sandy lift into the clouds and fly away, complete with an animated transition. It’s cute but not especially memorable.

The 2018 Blu-ray also brings Alternate Animated Main Titles. This reel fills three minutes, 44 seconds – including 26 seconds from Kleiser – and shows the same opening credits we’ve seen for 40 years but accompanied by a different theme song.

On one hand, this tune fits the movie’s 50s setting much better than the disco-tinged tune from Frankie Valli. On the other hand, it’s not a memorable song and it opens the film with less of a bang – though to be fair, it’s really tough to watch the film with a different number given 40 years of familiarity with the Valli track.

The final new addition to the package, Grease: A Chicago Story fills 24 minutes, 30 seconds and delivers notes from co-creator Jim Jacobs, and stage actors Steve Munro, Marilu Henner, and Bruce Hickey. “Story” looks at the inspirations for the original stage production as well as songwriting, casting, the early performances, and related developments. “Chicago” offers a tight little overview of the history behind the stage show and offers a fun program.

40 years after the movie first dazzled me, Grease doesn’t rock my world anymore, but it remains a fairly entertaining little piece of work. Parts of it fall flat, but enough of it seems satisfying to make it a fun program. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and sound with a fairly engaging roster of extras. I can’t claim I love Grease, but it maintains some charms, and this 40th Anniversary release serves it well.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of GREASE

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main