Something about those kitsch ditties and crazy coifs keep generations of moviegoers turning on to Grease. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John front this rock-'n'-rolling ode to 50s teendom adapted in 1978 from a hit Broadway show. As director Randal Kleiser announces on this Special Edition DVD, it has since become "the highest grossing movie musical of all time".
Like many a Hollywood hit, Grease was turned down by nearly every major studio before producer Robert Stigwood teamed up with writer/producer Allan Caar to pitch it to Paramount. That story is told in The Time, The Place, The Motion and we also hear from Kleiser and Travolta on the actor-director relationship; "He let us lead the way a lot," says JT. "I wanted to go back to the Broadway script a lot and he didn't disagree, which was really the correct thing to do". No doubt who was wearing the tight leather trousers then...
Vintage interviews with Travolta and Newton-John are presented elsewhere, but they're hardly incisive at just under two minutes each. Likewise the 'Memories' featurette comprises just a couple of soundbites from the red carpet ahead of the first DVD release in 2002. Footage from inside the Launch Party is much more entertaining as JT and Newton-John perform a slightly creakier but still rocking version of You're The One That I Want - ooh, oooh, oooh my aching back!
Eleven deleted scenes are presented in black-and-white, but there's nothing too exciting here. It's mostly brief cutaways or extended bits of dialogue from an introductory sequence where Sandy (Newton-John) has lunch with the Pink Ladies. In a commentary for the main feature, Kleiser and choreographer Patricia Birch talk about keeping faithful to the stage version but at the same time widening the scope for scenes like the race at Thunder Road. Kleiser also addresses the criticism that the actors are too old for their roles; "We had a crow's feet test," he explains, while Birch says the quality of the acting is more important than looks.
Hair stylist Daniel Robb would beg to differ with Ms Birch as he recreates those infamous bouffant hairstyles in 50s Beauty School 101. Most likely the barnets had to be sprayed stiff due to all the manic dancing the actors were called upon to perform. Didi Con (who plays Frenchy) reveals that the final dance contest took a week to film in The Moves Behind The Music. There's a stronger smell of burning rubber in the Thunder Roadsters featurette, which talks to vintage car enthusiasts and showcases some of the swankiest automobiles of the 50s.
For the slumber party crowd there are karaoke versions of all the musical numbers on disc one, plus snapshots from the set and the premiere included among four galleries on disc two. This Special Edition only skates the surface when it comes to behind-the-scenes dish, but those who are 'hopelessly devoted' to the musical should lap it up.