March 31, 2020

My Favorite Characters-Betty Rizzo

Grease is a fantastic musical, it’s one of the few stage shows I enjoyed as much as the movie which is just as great. That came out in 1978 starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John and has become a true cult classic. And of course, I had zero interest in seeing it for years.

Yeah, for years I avoided this movie for reasons I can’t remember or explain. But when I was married I did finally see it, in theatres even during a re-release it, and I loved it. Ok you’ll never see it on any “greatest movie off all time” lists that I write, but the music is so infectious and the characters a lot fun. If If we have “popcorn movies” this is a “popcorn musical”. You can ignore the paper thin story, one dimensional characters  and lame dialogue because it’s just so much fun!  The one character that really stood out for me, and lots of people, was the one played by Stockard Channing.  I am talking about

Betty Rizzo

Rizzo, or “Riz”,  is the leader of the Pink Ladies and is a very strong woman. She has a mean streak and is not someone to mess with. She teases Sandy almost from the start and even has a whole song about it which she sings almost right in front of her. In fact, she can be downright evil. Especially in the scene where she shows Sandy to Danny–when he is right in front of his friends knowing full well he will be a jerk to her as a result. The look of pride and satisfaction as Danny struggles to maintain his image of a cool guy while hurtling Sandy is priceless. This is evil villain stuff!

Thankfully the character does soften and we get to see her nice side. Most people talk about how the Pink Ladies rub off on Sandy by the end, a fair criticism, but Sandy does have an effect on Rizzo. The pregnancy scare is poorly done, and the resolution so rushed you could almost miss it. But Stockard Channing owns her own solo song during that arc and manages to make this mean character into someone human. She’s clearly not evil, just a vulnerable person who is afraid to let people get close to her. Though is it me or does she have zero chemistry with Conaway?

In fact Stockard Channing owns pretty much every scene she is in. One reason could be because she was a little older than character (duh). When I watch this movie she’s the only character who feels real and I love every scene she appears. I should point out that Danny and Sandy are cute together and all, but Rizzo is more fun to watch.

And yes I’ve seen Channing in other things like “Practical Magic” (what can I say I was married once) and “The West Wing” where she is always awesome. In fact she was one of the reasons I stated watching that show and won an Emmy for it (not to mention a Tony Award for other work). She’s a great actress, and did you know she once had her own TV show? Don’t look it up!!!!


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  2. Ugh, "Grease". Yes, I do like some of the songs. But the fact that Sandy har to change her wardrobe and hair and start smoking or not be accepted is just awful! So I can't stand this movie.