Saturday Night Fever

1977, Movie, R, 119 mins

Review

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER
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Reminiscent of both MARTY and SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING, this hugely popular picture and its even more popular soundtrack album (more than 27 million copies of which have been sold) raked in nearly $200 million. Moreover, John Travolta's heartfelt portrayal of Tony Manero, a directionless young clerk in a Brooklyn paint store, catapulted him to stardom. Refusing to compete with his seminarian brother (Martin Shakar) for his father's approval, Tony lives for the weekend, strutting his stuff on the disco dance floor with his girlfriend, Annette (Donna Pescow), whom he shuns after meeting Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney), an upwardly mobile, smart-stepping miss who becomes his partner for a big dance contest. Tony's tempestuous relationship with Stephanie, his desertion of Annette, and the pleasures and problems of his neighborhood buddies make up the rest of the film, which reaches its tragic climax in a scene at the Verrazano Bridge, where Bobby C. (Barry Miller), overcome with worries about the baby he has fathered out of wedlock, precariously scales the bridge.

The story here is really secondary to character and milieu, as director John Badham and his actors create a convincing portrait of frustrated 1970s working-class youth and the escape offered by the swirling lights and pulsing rhythms of the disco. Although technically not a musical--no one in the cast sings--this highly energized film has more songs than many musicals proper, most courtesy of the Bee Gees, who reached their creative and popular apex here. It also features some great dancing by Travolta, who made a triumphant critical comeback in 1994's PULP FICTION, during the same period that a 70s nostalgia boom turned SNF into a college cult favorite and the Bee Gees' "Tragedy" briefly re-appeared on the Billboard charts. The sequel, STAYING ALIVE, is nowhere near as involving. leave a comment

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