Grease (1978) is the most popular musical romantic of the 1970s. Two main characters, Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John), are central to the story. This film is best known for its music–a string of sing-able fifties-inspired gems that entertain and advance the story. There is also plenty of humor, fine dancing, and references to fifties culture. The universal theme of this movie appeals to all. The nostalgic feeling evoked adolescent memories of high school and middle school when life was like a sitcom. When all were on equal footing before the matrix, infatuation flourished with the opposite sex. There were pranks, slumber parties, drag racing matches, and intermixing subgroups of greasers, pink ladies, nurds, polite boys and girls, jocks, and teacher’s pet types. These subgroups were all part of the ongoing effort to define oneself. Ultimately, the carnival scene captured the enthusiasm of a sad but understandable parting of ways for seniors as they prepared for adult life on stage, getting in character each day with their work face and demeanor.
The film begins on a California beach in 1959. Two people with opposite personalities have fallen in love: Greaser Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and an Australian chick Sandy Olsson (Olivia-Newton John). While expecting never to see each other again, they attend Rydell High without knowing each other. They do their own things at first. Danny leads a gang of greasers called the T-Birds, while Sandy joins the Pink Ladies, led by Rizzo (Stockard Channing). Sandy realizes Danny is different from the man she met at the beach when they run into each other for the first time.
The opening beach scene of the film was shot at Malibu’s Leo Carrillo State Beach, making explicit reference to From Here to Eternity. The exterior Rydell scenes, including the front parking lot, the auto shop, and the “Summer Nights” bleachers number. Huntington Park High School provided the backdrop for the Rydell interiors, including the high school dance. The sleepover was filmed in an East Hollywood private house. The scenes involving Frosty Palace and the musical numbers “Greased Lightning” and “Beauty School Dropout” were filmed at the Paramount Pictures studio lot. Drive-in movie scenes were filmed at the Burbank Pickwick Drive-In. Many films have been filmed along the Los Angeles River between the First and Seventh Street Bridges, where the race was filmed. The final scene where the carnival took place used John Marshall High School. Due to budgetary constraints, the Los Angeles Hazard Park was also used for a short scene.