American nostalgia as we all know it was invented within the nineteen-seventies. Contemplate that decade’s preponderance of backward-looking pop-cultural phenomena: Sha Na Na; Completely happy Days; “Yesterday As soon as Extra”; American Graffiti, whose tagline requested “The place have been you in ’62?”, a time simply eleven years earlier than the discharge of the image itself. However no piece of labor stands extra iconically for the seventies revival of the late fifties and early sixties than Grease. First produced as a stage musical in Chicago in 1971, it graduated to Broadway the following yr. However Grease wouldn’t take its most enduring kind till 1978, the yr that introduced Randal Kleiser’s movie adaptation starring John Travolta and the late Olivia Newton-John.
A 28-year-old Australian might need appeared an unconventional selection for the a part of Sandy Dombrowski, the brand new woman at midwestern Rydell Excessive College. However after the alteration of some particulars within the character and story, she made the function totally her personal. “It was Newton-John’s dulcet intimacy as a singer that set her up completely to play the naïve Sandy onscreen,” writes the New Yorker‘s Rachel Syme.
Her “squeaky prudishness and moony innocence as she wails ‘Hopelessly Dedicated to You‘ stands in such sharp, foolish distinction to her vampy fallen-woman persona on the finish of the movie that the entire thing looks like a camp commentary on the ability of costuming and collective fantasy (to not point out a superb perm).”
It didn’t harm that Newton-John was already established as a singer: she’d represented the UK in 1974’s Eurovision Tune Contest (shedding, in the end, to ABBA), and that exact same yr scored nation hits in america. Her abilities did a lot not simply to make the Grease soundtrack America’s second-best-selling album of 1978 (second to the soundtrack of Travolta’s personal car Saturday Evening Fever), however to maintain it enduringly standard all through the many years since. At Grease‘s 2002 DVD launch occasion, Newton-John and Travolta reunited onstage to sing “You’re the One That I Need,” a lot to the delight of the viewers — all of whom should nonetheless bear in mind the place they have been in ’02, at the least for these three minutes.
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Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His initiatives embrace the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the e book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by way of Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Fb, or on Instagram.