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'Grease is the Word'

'Grease is the Word'

Exploring a Cultural Phenomenon

Edited by Oliver Gruner & Peter Kramer

Bringing together a group of international scholars, ‘Grease Is the Word’ offers fresh insight into the impact and legacy of the cultural phenomenon ‘Grease’.

EPUB, 250 Pages


October 2019

£25.00, $40.00

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PDF, 250 Pages


October 2019

£25.00, $40.00

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About This Book

When ‘Grease’ burst on to cinema screens in June 1978, critics and commentators were waiting in the aisles to excoriate what many perceived to be its glossy rendering of the 1950s, euphoric dance numbers and cliché character-types. And yet, despite the negative press, a phenomenon was in the making. Grossing more money at the box office – both in the United States and worldwide – than any other release from 1978, ‘Grease’ was a rare musical able to compete with the action-oriented ‘Jaws’/’Star Wars’ megaliths of the period. Resonating with young audiences in their millions, the film quickly became (and, indeed, remains) a frequently revisited touchstone in cultural debates on the musical, the youth-film and 1950s nostalgia. On the back of its success, Hollywood has time and again sought to recreate its success with a procession of similarly themed rock and roll youth musicals (‘Footloose’, ‘Dirty Dancing’, the ‘Pitch Perfect’ franchise, to name a few). However, even as these productions enjoy their own renown, the countless revivals, re-releases and special screenings attest that ‘Grease’ was, is and will remain ‘the word’ when it comes to musical blockbusters.

‘Grease Is the Word’ revisits the contemporaneous and ongoing impact of ‘Grease’ from a variety of perspectives. It offers an original series of contributions to debates on popular American cinema, the youth film, the musical, gender, stardom, class, place, movie audiences and the commercial operations of contemporary Hollywood. As one of American cinema’s most iconic productions, it is unsurprising that ‘Grease’ has attracted much attention from film and cultural studies scholars. Academic work has focused on its innovative marketing strategy and its music and nostalgia. Bringing together specialists from film, theatre and cultural studies, and offering appraisals of under-researched aspects of the film, this book builds upon and contributes to existing scholarship, offering fresh perspectives on ‘Grease’ within its 1970s context and beyond. By adopting a range of perspectives on the film, and drawing on various visual, textual and archival sources, the contributors maintain a vibrant dialogue throughout, offering a timely reappraisal of a film that continues to impact Hollywood filmmaking and popular culture. With its engaging, accessible subject matter, ‘Grease Is the Word’ will appeal to students, academics, fans and anyone interested in films of this period.


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Author Information

Oliver Gruner is senior lecturer in visual culture at the University of Portsmouth, UK. His research explores Hollywood cinema and cultural memory.

Peter Krämer is senior fellow in the School of Art, Media and American Studies at the University of East Anglia, UK. He is the author and editor of eight academic books.


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Notes on Contributors; Introduction; 1. From Chicago to Broadway: The Origins of Grease; 2. ‘We Were Just Trying to Entertain’: Grease in Production; 3. ‘Bland? Who, Me?’: Olivia Newton-John on the Road to Xanadu; 4. Travolta Fever; 5. A View from the Bridge: Grease’s Los Angeles; 6. Grease, the Jukebox Fifties and Time’s Percolations; 7. ‘We Go Together’: Meta-diegesisand Internal Voices in Grease; 8. ‘An easy winner’: The Marketing, Reception and Success of Grease; 9. Vanishing Pregnancies to Flying Cars: Examining Changing Reactions to the Carnival in Grease; 10. Grease, Late Teens and the Twenty-somethingAudience; 11. Look at me on DVD: Grease in the Home; Select Bibliography; Index.

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