Baldwin: Greased Lightning strikes again!

Published 9:06 am Friday, April 6, 2018

Greetings, my fellow T-Birds and Pink Ladies of Rydell High, um I mean Winchester!

Nostalgia Lane is a road I cruise a lot due to my love for film and its context to the time of its release. I also like to analyze how a film relates to my life as well.

I remember my 10th grade class was allowed to decorate the halls and attend periods in costumes from a movie for a school theme day. Mind you this was in the heyday of grunge and alternative music flooding the airwaves so I was a little put off with my class’s selection due to it being a “lame-o” musical. I felt the theme was cheesy and “not cool.” I was wrong . This year marks the 40th anniversary of the classic musical comedy, “Grease” (1978).

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In celebration of this anniversary, this hugely popular, award-winning pop culture favorite is being re-released this week for limited viewings in select theaters. If you aren’t in the know because you’ve been living in Squaresville, “Grease” is the comedic roller coaster love story of bad boy Danny, played by John “Saturday Night Fever” Travolta, and after effects of his idyllic summer romance with goody goody Sandy, portrayed by Olivia “Xanadu” Newton John.

The two teens must end their puppy love and bid each other farewell to start their senior year of high school and go their separate ways. Unbeknownst to our greaser and bobbysoxer, they attend the same school and the details of their special romance meets a fistful of rumors and drama due to their immature, chatty and evasive cliques getting involved. Funny, since all of the actors were either in their late 20s or already hit their 30s.

The two realize that the other, which they shared joy, fun and a stint in the sun with, are different people when they are back in their elements and will really have to work on themselves if they are going to coexist or even have a shot of recapturing the magic of their beach blanket bingo vacation.

This will be hard for the two as they must deal with the strains of peer pressure of hickie giving, cigarette smoking and hormone raging, sharp tongued friends. When they aren’t dealing with all of these issues, their own hang-ups and looking cool, they break out in song and dance since this was commonplace in the 1950s across America before Woodstock, disco and the internet.

“Grease” was adapted to screen by director Randal “Big Top Pee-Wee” Kleiser and screenwriter Bronte “Can’t Stop the Music” Woodward and was based on the hugely successful stage production of the same name in 1971 created by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.

To this day, “Grease” still thrives internationally as a musical fan favorite on the stage and in film festivals. Its soundtrack is one of the most popular and highest grossing soundtrack albums. Trying to capture the almighty dollar, studios made an attempt to reignite the flame of fortune with “Grease 2” (1982), but it fizzled out not capturing the fan base like its predecessor even though it starred a young Michelle “Scarface” Pfeiffer.

I still think “Grease” is cheesy, but in a good way, and is filled with a ton of silly or crude jokes, which is amazing because it probably wouldn’t pull a PG-13 rating depending on what day of the week it is for the MPAA.

So if you love it, burn rubber down nostalgia lane. If you haven’t seen it, agitate the gravel to the closest big screen and take it in for all of its charm of the late 1970s homage to the 1950s teen beat.

“Grease” will be presented by Fathom Events and Paramount Pictures as part of the Turner Classic Movie Big Screen Series. TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, will present special commentary before and after the film. Show times are Sunday 4/8 and Wednesday 4/11 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday at the Hamburg Pavilion 16 and Cinemark at Fayette Mall.

If you pass on the flick, it’s cool Daddy-O because, “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s what you do with your dancin’ shoes.”

Have an automatic, systematic, hyyyyydro-matic, film-tastic day!

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society ( Find more from Rick on Facebook at and online at He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79 and can be reached by email at