GREASE envahissait les écrans anglais un 14 septembre 1978. La France avait ouvert le feu le 13 septembre.
La veille, Olivia Newton-John et John Travolta avaient été quelque peu bousculés lors de la première à Londres ! Choqué .. John Travolta avait quitté la salle pendant la diffusion du film.
From the Guardian archive
“If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter,” says someone in Grease (Empire, A). It’s one of the few funny lines in this all-conquering movie but then, such is its lack of real panache, one is not quite sure whether it understands the double meaning. The Robert Stigwood film, already pre-sold to countless millions, is a grave disappointment to anyone in search of style or substance. But one thing this botched fifties pastiche does achieve is an increased affection for George Lucas’ American Graffiti.
Based on the pop musical which took Broadway by storm in 1972, which Time correctly described as “like an old yearbook in the carton of high school memorabilia we all keep stored somewhere in the back of our lives,” the film shrewdly but impertinently inserts a huge dose of seventies disco-music into the score and populates its high school with some of the oldest pupils one is ever likely to see this side of the Open University. Moreover, it is directed by 30-year-old Randal Kleiser who not only can’t possibly know what the fifties were about but is a graduate from television with only the remotest idea of how to handle a wide screen.
The consequences of this are profound, and even reflect on the performances of the two starry principals. John Travolta, whom God and Hollywood preserve in case the world takes suddenly against him, can display only half the animal energy he exhibited so sexily in Saturday Night Fever as dangerous Danny, the boy sweet little Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) wishes so much was just a regular guy. He poses like some forlorn young stud in a bedroom full of chastity belts.
As for Olivia, the Sandra Dee substitute for the seventies, she acts and sings prettily but her final metamorphosis as a leather-clad siren makes You’re the One That I Want sound like an invitation to a snogging session behind the Vicarage. And don’t ask me about the dancing or I’ll explode. The Busby Berkeley stylisations are grim enough, but the high school lawn-mowing has to be seen to be disbelieved.
Still, there are compensations - as indeed there must be to keep so many customers happy for so long. One of them is undoubtedly Eve Arden as Principal McGee (a real performance this) and the fleeting, not very meaty cameos accorded to other fifties stalwarts like Frankie Avalon, Sid Caesar and Edd Byrnes. Stockard Channing is fine too but about fifteen years too late for her part.
The rest is pure pap, admittedly enlivened by hit songs in the wrong style. Great fun no doubt if you don’t give a damn for the cinema but disappointingly full of holes if you do. The central theme, which is really Pat Boone and Sandra Dee versus Elvis Presley and the groupie syndrome, is certainly sketched out. But whoever held the pencil seems incapable of drawing a straight line through the dross.
John Travolta was last night besieged by fans when he arrived at Leicester Square, London, for the premiere of his latest film, Grease. Police had to force a path into the Empire Cinema.
- FRONT COVER
Olivia Newton-John était en couverture du magazine hollandais VERONICA le 2 septembre 1978. L'Europe allait connaitre la folie GREASE dans la foulée de la Fièvre Du Samedi Soir !
Un grand merci à Kay pour ses scans.