Monday, March 17, 2008

Screen Gems

Best thing to happen all week: I went to the Criterion on Sunday morning with friends to see the Movies and Mimosas feature (that's a classic film shown on the big screen for a mere five dollars. Two more dollars will get you a tasty mimosa). This is one of my favorite things about living here. How many people my age get to say that they saw Casablanca for the first time on the big screen? Not many. If you're looking for me on a Sunday morning, start at the movie theater. This week was extra special. One word: Travolta. Two more: Newton-John. Yep, they showed Grease. And it's as good as I remembered.

Grease is not only the word, it's the first movie I ever saw in a theater. I was six years old (give or take, the movie opened three days before my sixth birthday) and my sister took me to the Mayfair Theater on sixty-fourth and Park Avenue to see it. It was love, instant perfect love the minute I saw Danny and Sandy frolicking on the beach. I'm pretty sure I saw it at least once more in the theater before that summer was over. And then...someone gave me the album. Remember that album? Sandy and Danny in an embrace on the cover, with Olivia's awesome hair rivaled only by Travolta's sideburns and cleft chin.
The pencil's a nice touch, don't you think? Gives it that yearbook feel.

The soundtrack was a double album (four sides of music!)and featured big hits like Sandy and Hopelessly Devoted to You, as well as songs played during the big dance (Those Magic Changes, Tears on My Pillow...anyone?). As if that weren't enough, the album jacket opened to reveal stills from the movie. I wore that thing out, as I'm sure most kids did. I know you know all the words to Rizzo's big solo, There are Worse Things I Could Do, no need to be ashamed. Do you think Stockard Channing was ashamed to be playing a possibly pregnant high school senior at the tender age of thirty-four? No sir, she was not!

That summer and for many months to follow, my friends and I would spend our afternoons acting out all of the big numbers (
Summer Nights, We Go Together, Greased Lightnin). We'd take turns being Sandy. You always wanted to be Sandy. She was so pretty and sweet and she had that cool accent...then she got that tramp makeover (she had to be sewn into those pants) and you wanted to be her even more! By the way, there's an entire generation of us who grew up singing the dirtiest lyrics this side of an R. Kelly song. Seriously. Greased Lightnin? Filthy. But it does have a good beat and you can certainly dance to it (I dare you to listen to that song and not do the signature move. Impossible). What did we know? We were kids. Innocent children singing songs from our favorite movie. A movie that referenced teen pregnancy, underage drinking and stealing car parts to soup up your sin wagon so that you could bang the foreign exchange student you met over the summer. Ah, the Seventies!

Next up at M&M is Breakfast at Tiffany's, starring Audrey Hepburn as a call girl (she gets fifty dollars to go to the powder room) and George Peppard as the kept man she falls in love with in spite of herself. Did I mention she does all wearing clothes by Givenchy. If that doesn't take care of the mean reds I've been experiencing lately, I don't know what will.


ia said...

Nice to hear that movie has inspired 2 generations in my family & I was responsible. My kids LOVE it. I try not to snicker when I hear my 10 year old boy singing along to Greased Lightning. Did I mention we have the 20th Anniversary Edition, along with song book & all?

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