IR Interview: Randal Kleiser (Director) For “Grease – 40th Anniversary” [Paramount Home Entertainment-Cannes 2018]
“Grease” on Blu Ray is like a warm shaft of light. The crispness is great and the sound is good in True HD although because of the master it is a little tinny. This is not a full remaster for the disc as this was done it looks like for the DVD “Rydell Edition” released two or so years back. The movie is an absolute dream so any flaws that might be seen now are simply part of the culture. The only problem with the transfer is in the bright scenes like “Summer Nights” and “Beauty School Dropout” where alot of white is employed. To create the balance in HD, the whites almost complete blow out. But as Randal Kleiser points out in the “Rydell” commentary done less than two years ago, the summer sun comes out on Travolta’s face during the final moment of that song and that is very clear now. Looking at the music sequences in 1080p gets it as close as it can get without 3D which might possibly happen in years to come. I can see it right now as “Hopelessly Devoted To You” plays back in a sing-along mode. The “Hand Jive” sequence when John and Olivia Newton John come out of the crowd is one of the most memorable movie moments if you grew up in late 70s. Patricia Birsch who did the choreography remembers on the commentary what it took to make that gym sequence. They did the shooting of the entire “Dance Off” sequence in five days. The script for the movie is very distincty different at many point than the stage play which Birsch was involved with. Producer/screenwriter Alan Carr was the motivation for that. He seems to give the extra humor for the film version.
At the TV press day for the 20th Anniversary of “Grease” back in 1998 (which I did) I was able to hear Carr’s impressions of making the film before he died a couple years later. Kleiser is impressed how much the films holds up. Granted they spruced up the sound so you can see the placement of sound effects and certain ADR which is unfortunate because you want it to sound that certain way. Patricia and Randal in the commetary also point out Michael Biehn (pre-“Aliens” and “Terminator”) is in a couple scenes as well as Andy Tennant (who I have met in the past ten years) who directed Reese Witherspoon’s “Sweet Home Alabama”. Birsch also speaks consistently about her 20 dancers that she instrcuted in background action which when you think about it really makes a difference. In addition, the sing along aspect has a jump to track feature which is a good one.
“The Time, The Place, The Motion: Remembering Grease” is a nice little documentary optimizing some interviews and footage from back in 1998 when we did all the interviews. There is a little bit of film B roll. It is interesting seeing John a little more than ten years ago talking about the film. It seems like a lifetime ago yet we were doing interviews with him back then too. The deleted scenes are the first elements I have seen in terms of deleted scenes. They are only seeable in black and white. These pieces are little character moments especially during the dance but if you put them back in now (like moments when George Lucas added bits back in “Star Wars”), it changes the cadence. “Grease On DVD Launch Party” (which I can’t remember why I didn’t go to) looks like an amazing moment. “You’re The One I Want” is great since John gets into it which you could never see before. “Summer Nights” is fun with everyone up on stage. Again once in a lifetime. Probably won’t happen again but it was captured on video and it is here. “Grease Memories From John and Olivia” takes thought from the red carpet of the DVD Launch Party. “The Moves Behind The Music” talks to Pat Birsch and some of the cast of how they interrelated their own thoughts and Pat’s choreography together.
“Thunder Roadsters” is a featurette on old 50s muscle cars and the like which were shown in “Grease”. This is the only segment that seems extraneous on the disc. The “Grease Day” premiere interviews from 1978 was Alan Carr’s creating a buzz on the movie by creating a live TV special. We just see select interviews but it would be interesting to see the whole special. The photo galleries are cool and most are new photographs but there aren’t an extensive amount. The trailer is the O.G. and not the re-release which is good. It makes a difference. The menus are integrated and moving on the disc always which is an evolving trend.
The Blu Ray release of “Grease” has what it needs and then some without overwhelming the viewer. Out of 5, I give it a 4.