Grease (1978)

Get ready for some summer lovin’ with this special poolside screening of the top-grossing film of 1978. Of course, summer loving can’t last, as Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) learns when she transfers to Rydell High and discovers her vacation romance, Danny Zuko (John Travolta), is too cool to date a girl like her during the school year. Their attempts to get back together without losing face provide an excuse for singing, dancing and clowning. Even though John Travolta’s blue windbreaker was intended as an homage to REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955), this is not the ’50s of delinquents and motorcycle gangs. In fact, when a fight scene between Jeff Conaway and Stockard Channing turned out to be too realistic, director Randal Kleiser cut it from the film. Instead, this is the ’50s of TV sitcoms and Archie comics, complete with malt shops, drive-ins and dances in the school gym. The plot seems primitive, and more than a little sexist by today’s standards, but the film gets a tremendous boost from Travolta’s performance, fresh off his Oscar-nominated success in Saturday Night Fever (1977). It’s also helped by Channing’s grit as bad girl Rizzo and Newton-John’s energetic innocence. Her Oscar-nominated hit from the film, “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” was only added after the picture was completed when producers decided she needed a ballad.

(d. Randal Kleiser, 110m, Digital)