Story by: Jack Foley
GREASE is still the word among musical fans, it seems, as it
has been named the nation's favourite musical of all time, in
a Channel 4 poll.
The 1978 film, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John,
beat both The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz in the poll,
which was screened as part of Channel 4's Christmas schedule (2003).
The film was released in the UK when it was still in the grip
of punk rock, and was viewed by many as a harmless antidote to
The Sex Pistols.
Set in 1950s America, it quickly became a global box office smash,
raking in $340m worldwide, and giving rise to many timeless songs,
such as You're The One That I Want, Summer Nights and Greased
Lightnin'. All three enjoyed chart success.
The plot finds Travolta playing Danny Zuko, a leather-clad wild
teenager who becomes smitten with Newton-John's Sandy Olsson,
a beautiful but 'square' student at Rydell High School.
Needless to say, love eventually conquers all for the mis-matched
In true Hollywood tradition, the enduring appeal of the movie
prompted movie executives to attempt to cash in with a sequel
in 1982, but neither of the two principals could be lured back
and the movie, which starred a young Michelle Pfeiffer, promptly
Of the other popular musicals, The Sound of Music came second
and The Wizard of Oz third, with Julie Andrews (a regular musical
performer), also commanding fifth spot, for her eponymous role
in Mary Poppins.
Another of her successes, Thoroughly Modern Millie, came in at
The most recent film to make the top ten was last year's Oscar
winner, Chicago, which took eighth
place. The film starred Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones
and was one of last year's most successful award winners.
Nominations for the 100 Greatest Musicals were submitted via
the Channel 4 website, and follow in the tradition of several
Channel 4 polls that have been conducted over the past year.
Jonathon Holmes, the programme's senior producer, commented:
"I think everyone will be surprised at the musicals that
the public have chosen as their top ten of all time and in particular
that Grease, a modern-day classic, got the number one spot, and
not an old favourite like Singin' In The Rain.
"The real thrill for me, however, was meeting all the Hollywood
legends from the golden age of musicals - Jane Russell, Ann Miller,
Esther Williams - to name just a few.
"It is fantastic to see that their work has stood the test
of time and still appeals to audiences of all ages up to 50 years
after the originals were made."
The programme, which also covered theatre and television work,
included many of old favourites, such as The Producers, Kiss Me
Kate and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but also conjured a
Rapper, Eminem, came in at number 40, for his acclaimed movie
debut, 8 Mile, while a musical version
of cult TV hit, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, also found its way into
Another recent classic, Moulin
Rouge, starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, completed
the top 10.
The top 10 in full
1. Grease (1978)
2. The Sound Of Music (1965)
3. The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
4. West Side Story (1961)
5. Mary Poppins (1964)
6. Singin' In The Rain (1952)
7. Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
8. Chicago (2002)
9. Oliver (1968)
10. Moulin Rouge (2001)