A Few Words About A few words about...™ Grease -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, May 1, 2009.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,190
    Likes Received:
    4,999
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    In 1972 I spent an evening at the original cast recording session for Grease, and many of the tunes have stayed with me over the intervening decades. This was a great Broadway musical, that six years later, made an superb transition to film.

    Here we are, three decades later, after VHS, laser, and DVD, with the the film finally making a high quality debut on home video on Blu-ray, with terrific sounding audio, and an image of high quality, if not occasionally odd looking. Viewing Grease, I was trying to figure out whether the image was processed to remove some grain, or whether it could have been originally as grainless as it appears. Thanks to the all-seeing eye of Blu-ray, it also seems that the optics used on the shoot may not have been of the highest caliber. Numerous shots, possibly taken with zooms, are reasonably sharp in the center of the image, but roll off with aberrations outside of center. Others just seem to be soft enough and lacking detail to look off. Is this processing? I'm not certain.

    But that stance may be overlooking a terrific filmed musical, and rather like not seeing the forest for the trees, seeking the insects dining away on the leaves rather than taking in the images of beautiful trees.

    While I report these anomalies for the record, it really doesn't damage the presentation, as once you sit back, relax and allow the teen actors -- well, almost -- among the leads, Stockard Channing was 34, John Travolta 24, Didi Conn 27 and Olivia Newton-John 30 -- to take you back to the wonderful '50s where less violent gangs than the sharks and jets made beautiful music.

    I can't end this piece without mentioning two actresses who play second leads in the film -- Eve Arden as the principal began her career in film in 1929, while Joan Blondell of the beauty school, began her career in film a year later.

    All in all, Grease is a quality Blu-ray, and very close to the one that we've been waiting for, as it far surpasses the standard definition version.

    Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2001
    Messages:
    5,961
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    The BK
    Real Name:
    ManW
    Woah! I'm not sure if I simply totally forgot this was coming or simply missed the announcement completely. [​IMG]

    Anyway, sounds like one more BD upgrade to look forward to. I thought I'd be more selective about upgrades (and purchases in general) for BD, but so far, I don't seem to be getting w/ my own program. [​IMG] [​IMG] Of course, having a family w/ kids and all does make it tougher to be more selective. I just picked up Twilight (to go w/ Sin City) for instance even though I saw it on rental just last weekend and didn't care much for it, but I've got a daughter entering that tween age phase (and reading them darned books just like every other girl at her age). Maybe I coulda gotten away w/ not buying Twilight (and Mamma Mia -- though that was like just $5 w/out the case, etc.), if I saw Grease coming and coulda maybe, just maybe (but nah...) appease the kids w/ that instead... [​IMG]

    Thanks yet again, RAH, for another fine review here...

    _Man_
     
  3. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2003
    Messages:
    5,132
    Likes Received:
    637
    Location:
    North of the 49th
    Real Name:
    Stephen J. Hill
    I love this analogy, RAH. Reminds me of the early days of DVDs and overcompressed and oversharpened jpeg images, both of which were sometimes plagued with what was referred to as "mosquito noise." Thankfully, those days are mostly in the past, though you wouldn't know it from some of the complaints we see on various forums.
     
  4. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Cinematographer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 1999
    Messages:
    2,919
    Likes Received:
    635
    RAH,

    Thanks for the great review. Your continued presence
    at this forum makes this THE place I come
    to check reviews of Blu-rays
    before I make a final purchasing decision and your
    reviews are often the deciding factor
    (i.e. no on "Gigi," yes on "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.")

    I look forward to seeing your reviews of "Vertigo,"
    "Rear Window," "My Fair Lady," and "Lawrence of Arabia." [​IMG]
     
  5. Geoff_D

    Geoff_D Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Messages:
    923
    Likes Received:
    25
    Thanks again RAH. I was horrified (yes, horrified) at the state of the Rockin' Rydell DVD, and I'm glad to hear that the BD, while not perfect, makes a better job of it.

    I love this film much more than a grown man should, so I wanna see it done right on BD.
     
  6. litemakr

    litemakr Auditioning

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the review, Robert.

    Does the blu-ray have the original 1978 sound mix, or the messed up remix Paramount has been using since the 1998 re-release? There are numerous changes and mistakes in that mix, both musically and in the dialogue. At one point, the background vocals in You're the One That I Want become completely out of sync. Background vocals are used in Hopelessly Devoted to You that were never in the original. There is some weird percussion in the middle of Summer Nights. Sound Effects and foley are added and turned up too loud during the dance competition. Etc, etc.

    As someone that grew up seeing the film in theaters and then repeated on cable and VHS, I can't stand to watch the film with the remixed sound. PLEASE tell me this has been corrected on the blu-ray...
     
  7. Tucker J

    Tucker J Extra

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2003
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just had to chime in here,

    Yes,the 1998 remix is horrid but unfortunatley I don't think the original stereo track is included on the blu ray.I can't believe someone involved with the movie hasn't sorted it out or at least made sure the original track is included.

    Apart from the horrible added base drums half way through summer nights and all the other sound effects,the music sounds compressed and muted,also the lead vocals sound too upfront and dry whereas the original was pretty dynamic sounding.Who did this crap remix anyway?

    I'm gutted that I won't be able to watch Grease in hidef the way it was meant to be heard.
     
  8. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2001
    Messages:
    1,465
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    South Florida
    Did they restore the Coke sign? You'd think the parties would have worked something out by now - that, or spend a little 21st Century effort in fixing up the "dancing mattes."
     
  9. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    Messages:
    3,574
    Likes Received:
    343

    Do you know for a fact that only the 98 remix is on the BluRay?
     
  10. Brian Borst

    Brian Borst Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,137
    Likes Received:
    0
    According to every review I read, only the remix is included. Bit of a shame, really.
     
  11. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2003
    Messages:
    5,132
    Likes Received:
    637
    Location:
    North of the 49th
    Real Name:
    Stephen J. Hill
    The grey boxes are still there.
     
  12. Paul Hillenbrand

    Paul Hillenbrand Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 1998
    Messages:
    1,496
    Likes Received:
    242
    Real Name:
    Paul Hillenbrand
    Is it correct that the background "Coke Sign" was obscured for the original theatrical run and if done, would be a "restore" from the original shooting?
    Edit: i.e. The "Coke sign" wasn't just obscured for home distribution?
     
  13. ahollis

    ahollis Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Messages:
    6,491
    Likes Received:
    1,468
    Location:
    New Orleans
    Real Name:
    Allen
    The Coke Sign was covered for the theatrical release due to the fact that Paramount had a promotion going on with Pepsi when the film was released. At the time the diner scene was filmed the promotion was not set and the nostologic Coke menu board fit in with the decor. It more than likely does not matter today what is shown, but I would suppose that the negative was changed, just as the jarring blur is in the title sequence of "Tea For Two", which is covered in another thread here.
     
  14. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    Messages:
    3,574
    Likes Received:
    343

    I guess they never heard from several million fans who can't stand that remix!

    As for the Coke sign, I recall that the blurring was there in 1980 during Grease's initial HBO tv airings. I also noticed it in a 1992 re-release. Didn't see the movie in original release, but I've seen it about 50 times since--on HBO, on regular networks, in syndication, on old vhs, two theatrical re-releases, two separate dvd releases--and the blurring has always been there.
     
  15. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2003
    Messages:
    5,132
    Likes Received:
    637
    Location:
    North of the 49th
    Real Name:
    Stephen J. Hill
    Actually, the real reasons for the Coke sign being obscured are covered in the article linked in Felix' post. Apparently, Coke executives objected to the raunchy content of the film and did not want their product associated with it. However, it was too late to do reshoots, so holdout mattes were used so characters wouldn't disappear behing the grey boxes.
     
  16. Rob W

    Rob W Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 23, 1999
    Messages:
    547
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Toronto
    Real Name:
    Robert
    I truly don't understand the severe windowboxing of the opening animated credits . Who would possibly have a television with overscan severe enough to require shrinking them so much ? Yet the end credit sequence is NOT windowboxed!
     
  17. ahollis

    ahollis Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Messages:
    6,491
    Likes Received:
    1,468
    Location:
    New Orleans
    Real Name:
    Allen

    Sorry, but it was the Pepsi deal. I was around at the time of the making and release. Paramout was able to place some Pepsi bottles in some latter shot scenes. You can notice one held by Barry Pearl at the begining of the "Summer Nights" segment.
     
  18. Bob-ATL

    Bob-ATL Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2003
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    7

    The windowboxing here is even more drastic than what was done for the Bond opening credits. It's ridiculous.
     
  19. Tom M

    Tom M Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 1999
    Messages:
    223
    Likes Received:
    6
    Just finished watching this. I only had the original DVD so this was a pretty huge leap in PQ for me. Very nice job Paramount!

    Yes, the windowboxing is absurd. I used my projector's zoom mode, which made the AR 2.20:1 but no major info was missing.

    As far as the audio goes, it sounded fine to me. The surrounds weren't louder then the front speakers like when I saw it in 1998. In fact, the surround audio blended in pretty seamlessly on my system. I also did not hear any of the audio errors litemakr described. Then again, I was just enjoying the movie and not really listening for any thing wrong.

    Overall, I'm very happy with the Blu-Ray of Grease. Hopefully, Grease 2 will be out before the year is over!
     
  20. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2000
    Messages:
    2,650
    Likes Received:
    0
    During Hopelessly Devoted to You, at the end of the song, there were originally foley effects. It was nice because the song ended and Olivia was left by herself and all you could hear were crickets chriping and her love letter swirling around in the water. Those sounds have been taken out and the music continues into the next scene. I would prefer the 1978 mix because of moments such as these.
     

Share This Page