Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1970s Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

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The movie which single-handedly made disco the dominant force on the planet for a brief period of the 70s and launched John Travolta to stardom.

It also changed disco from the elite pastime of a few drug-crazed Americans with liberal views on sex into a global pastime for all the family. And it gave punk something else not to sound like . . .

Under John Badham’s tight direction Saturday Night Fever emerged as an engrossing study of the rites of passage of the working-class American male. 19-year old Tony Manero’s routine life as a weekday nobody – he works as a paint store clerk in Brooklyn and is mocked at home by his father and unflatteringly compared to his brother Frank, a priest – is transcended by his stunning skill on the dance floor at the 2001 Odyssey disco on Saturday night.

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On a floor lit from below he dances dynamically in ensembles, pairs and solo. Here he is a stunning stud, popular and admired – the king of the disco.

Tony Manero is brought to heel by the love of a good girl, Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gomey) that he meets at the club. She’s beautiful, from Manhattan, has a nice apartment and is a great dancer – but she wants more out of life.

The first step is to see if, together, they can win the upcoming disco dance contest . . .

The story originated from a New York magazine article by Nik Cohn entitled Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night which  told of no-hoper Brooklyn kids escaping the grind at the disco. These particular kids are, however, not easy to like: they’re sexist, racist, selfish and charmless. And Tony really is no better, except that Travolta’s Tony does charm you into thinking “if only that kid really believed in himself he could go places”.

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The movie was filmed in the predominantly Italian neighbourhood of Bay Ridge (Brooklyn) and in Manhattan. The Brooklyn scenes have a gritty reality and the dance scenes are electrifying.

The best-selling score featured songs by the (at the time) hugely popular Bee Gees, including Night FeverStayin’ AliveHow Deep Is Your Love? and Jive Talkin’.

Sylvester Stallone directed Travolta in a sequel called Staying Alive (1983) but the film was a disappointment.

Tony Manero
John Travolta
Stephanie
Karen Lynn Gomey
Fran Drescher

Director
John Badham

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