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There are people who have seen this movie that have not been
stoked by it (see some user comments). Personally I can't
understand this. I know that there are people who have different
tastes, and maybe some younger viewers will not be able to relate
to it, or appreciate it. However, at the risk of sounding like a dick, I
can confidently say that those are people I would not want to know
anyways. This is a film that does what great films are supposed to
do; that is to transcend our daily lives and bring us joy. There are a
few films that can be called masterpieces because all the different
film elements that are brought together have a unique quality and
vision and the final result is something more special than the sum
of the elements themselves. In a nutshell, this is a simple story
about a young Italian Brooklyn man, Tony Manero, from humble
roots with a gift for dancing who dreams of something better
against all odds. He escapes from it all out on the dance floor,
basking in the glow of the disco ball, and the frivolous, moving
dance music. He meets another young woman at the danceclub,
Stephanie Modano, played by an underrated Karen Lynn-Gorney,
who is equal to him in dance ability, and, more importantly, in
desiring a better life. The two struggle together, and against each
other, in their pursuit of winning a dance contest that may spur on
A simple story yes. One you've seen before yes. But after that, there is no other film that can touch it. John Travolta, as Tony, was in his prime, giving a performance that is so likeable because he is so normal. Who can't relate to a character who is so honest, so cool, so goofy, so conflicted; who has talent but doesn't get recognized by the people who should recognize him, like his family, only by his friends whom he knows deep down are all creeps? This is all of us!
The soundtrack features some of the best disco music ever made, in terms of making you feel joyous, and impervious to the world's problems. Mostly contributed by The Bee Gees, as well as others, it is the essential element that makes the whole thing work.
John Badham's direction is even; giving the audience plenty of music and show stopping musical bits, yet unafraid to lure you back to the grim reality of what our hero is always up against. But it's never heavy handed. The story is equal parts dramatic, comedic, exhilirating, and pensive, and moves along just as rhythmically as the music.
In the end, literally as well as figuratively, Tony is more alone and unsure than ever in his ever changing world. And so it makes sense that he reaches out to Stephanie for love and support; someone that has at least a little understanding of who he really is, even if they can't be lovers. Simple, realistic, beautiful. The 70's was the true golden age of American cinema. It was the era of the auteur. Great minds like Scorsese, Coppola, Lucas, Spielberg, Badham, and so forth had for a decade or so, the ability to make truly visionary films; in the sense that they had a lot of creative power to express themselves devoid of studio pressure, political correctness, marketing tie-ins, and big budget, sensory offending, special effects. They laid it on the line. And we get to enjoy it for eternity.
Attention younger viewers, don't let the distorted lingering stereotype fool you. This isn't a "cheesy film" with John Travolta dancing like a clown to music that "sucks". It is as good a film as you'll see, if you can allow yourself to appreciate it as a real film. Disco music was once cutting edge before it "sucked". John Travolta was actually a good dancer and actor, and the story really does have depth.
I love this movie.
I love the way it focuses on dancing, yet it isn't about dancing at all. Yes, long amounts of time are given to showing John Travolta light up the dance floor, but the story's fundamental point is the most subtle: Trying to escape from your boring daily routine, even if it is just for an hour.
That's exactly what Tony Manero does. He saves up his weekly earnings from where he works in downtown Brooklyn at a crummy hardware store, then blows it all in one day at the local disco joint, where he reigns as king. His female dance partner calls him a walking cliché. In a sad sort of way, it's true.
But this is Tony's dream. I quote an aspiring comedian named Rupert Pupkin: "Better to be king for a night than a schmuck for a lifetime." "Saturday Night Fever" is based entirely on this idea. In an odd sort of way, Rupert Pupkin is a lot like Tony Manero. He just has a different dream. We all do.
"Saturday Night Live's" theme tune, "Staying Alive" (the title of the horrendous Sylvester Stallone-directed sequel), speaks as much truth about life as the film itself. "I'm goin' nowhere, somebody help me, I'm goin' nowhere, somebody help me yeah" chants a voice in the Bee Gee's universally known disco hit. As I listen to it right now, I realize just how perfect it is for the movie. It's a legendary song, and for good reason.
I didn't grow up during the disco generation. But "Saturday Night Fever" makes me feel as if I had--and that is one of the fundamental keys to a film so incredibly outdated and yet still poignant in our memories. It was the film that solidified John Travolta as an icon, and the film that eventually led to him being regarded as the King of Cinema Disco. (In the Travolta film "Get Shorty," a criminal threatens a producer by saying that, if he doesn't pay up, he'll be "dead as disco." Ironic.)
Travolta is in his prime spotlight as Manero, a Brooklyn kid aiming to make it big on the dance floor. There isn't much to the movie other than the need for fame--as brief as it may be--and the most obvious theme of the film, which is learning to treat women as something more than just sex objects.
Tony and his pals all join together at 2001 Odyssey, a crummy disco club with dizzying strobe lights and a constantly-waxed dance floor where Tony is often encouraged to let loose and show everyone his moves. When he's not doing that, he's sitting at the bar watching a topless stripper do her thing. And he's only 19.
Part of this movie is learning to grow up, and treat women as something more than Tony is used to treating them. But that's one of two primary plots--the other is, of course, trying to break away from a boring life. Tony comes from an Italian background, and he lives in a bad area of town. His mother is proud of her eldest son, who became a priest, and she's discouraged by the fact that her other son doesn't seem to care about making anything out of his life. We get the feeling that Tony's parents once had the same outlook as their son, and fear he may be going down their own path. After Tony gets a raise from $3 to $4, his father tells him that $4 can't even buy $3. His son swears at him and storms away.
Some of my favorite scenes in "Saturday Night Live" are the human ones, such as when Tony stares in his bedroom mirror, bare-chested, and combs his hair forever, looking over himself with the same pride that Travis Bickle displayed in the famous "You talkin' to me?" scene in "Taxi Driver," released a year earlier. In the background of the shot are posters of Al Pacino from "Serpico" and Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa. (Just think, Sly directed the sequel and did a cameo, yet he was, in a way, in the first film, too.)
I also like when Tony is interacting with his dysfunctional family. He's nice to his little sister when he walks through the door after work, but after working for quite some time on his now-out-of-date hairstyle, he barks at his father when he is slapped during dinner (in one of the rare scenes that made me laugh). He yells at him: "Would you just watch the hair? I work a long time on my hair, and you hit it!" I know that scene has been quoted before, but I quoted it again since it made me laugh so hard.
In one of the finest scenes in the entire movie, and certainly one of the most touching, Tony has lunch with an older girl (who later becomes his dance partner) and tries to impress her by acting mature. But his immaturity shines through--he doesn't have a clue what he's talking about half the time, and when he tries to act smart she counters his moves with true brainpower. In a way, this is the first time Tony realizes that women aren't as dumb as he thought they were.
This is one of my favorite guilty pleasures for all the right and wrong reasons. The wrong reasons include the dance floor numbers--I love them, and I probably shouldn't. As for the right reasons...I think we already know what they are. It's all about dreams. Everyone has some. Whether it's dancing or whatever, we all have dreams. And that's why I think "Saturday Night Fever" relates to so many different people on so many different levels.
I am 31 so I was 3 when this movie came out. The first time I saw
Saturday Night Fever was the "Edited For Television" version probably
when I was 6 or 7 years old. At that point, it was about the music, the
dance scenes and the clothes.
It wouldn't be until years later that I understood what a great story this is. It's a coming of age movie. It's a modern day tragedy. It's a love story.
The first thing that people think about when they hear Saturday Night Fever is disco and bell bottoms, but the story is timeless. Travolta plays Tony Manero, a loser in a nowhere job who only feels alive when he is on the dance floor at the local disco. There he is adored by his friends, by women and by strangers. There he is king. Everywhere else he is nobody. Even at home.
Tony becomes infatuated with a woman named Stephanie. On the surface Stephanie appears to be much better off than Tony. For the most part Stephanie is a big talker, but Tony is bothered by her observations.
"Let me guess. You work all week long at some dead end job and then you go and blow it at all at 2001 (the disco) on the weekends. You're a cliché. You're no one, going nowhere." As much as Tony is upset by her words he can't argue with them. Soon Tony becomes frustrated with his "station in life" and tells Stephanie he wants out (of Brooklyn).
What makes Saturday Night Fever work so much for me is Tony is very typical of a lot of males who would rather have a good time and party now than build something toward the future. Bars are full of guys like Tony. Guys who are super stars in their local drinking establishments, but have no life outside of the night life.
And of course there's the superb dance scenes that most people remember Saturday Night Fever for. The soundtrack is also one of the best out there.
For whatever reason, Saturday Night Fever also has my favorite closing shot of all time. It's really nothing special, but I get choked up every time I see it.
Saturday Night Fever is also a snapshot of a period in recent American history. The movie took place in 1977. The country was a mess after the Vitenam war ended and before Reagan stormed Washington and once again instilled a sense of pride in Americans. There was no longer a war to protest, but the average American didn't have much faith in our country. I think Saturday Night Fever does an excellent job of capturing what was probably a common attitude among young adults during the late 70's. Live for the moment because the future is pretty bleak.
Although it may seem dated and cheesy to some viewers today Saturday
Night Fever remains one of the most underrated examples of '70s
pop-culture. It is undoubtedly the quintessential dance flick and
remains one of the most entertaining films of all-time. Yet, behind all
the music and entertaining aura you are actually viewing a drama
studying the American class system and young rebellion. Though at times
it is slightly exaggerated, it still manages to capture a vast amount
of authenticity and ultimately the sights and sounds of the time.
Saturday Night Fever follows self-proclaimed "dance king" Tony Manero (John Travolta) and his love of dancing and the trials and tribulations of his life in the Bronx. He soon meets an arrogant fellow dancer named Stephanie Mangano (Karen Lynn Gorney). Quickly becoming attracted and influenced by the women he starts questioning the way he lives his life.
The film is not always upbeat and at times can be depressing, particularly the scenes depicting peer-pressure. Although both have their differences, both are very alike and ultimately want to be something "big". There are also the elements of jealously, rivalry, religion, rebellion, respect and racism added into the film. This captures the realism of the time and with more accuracy and honesty than a lot of films. Just take a look at the brief scene where Tony is on the tube, this is an oddly poignant, effecting and compelling scene presenting Tony's confused emotions.
Saturday Night Fever still carries the vibe, rhythm and atmosphere it did back in '77. It remains one of the most influential films for both the film-world and pop-culture. Infamously holding some of the greatest dance sequences ever committed film; you can feel the energy, emotions, time and determination that were spent perfecting the dance scenes to the finest detail. The lighting is perfect at creating the "disco world", the set-piece of the 2001 Disco is one of the film's many iconic highlights.
John Travolta dedicates himself to his dancing and character, fitting the role with a graceful ease. The film goes into depth at studying characters too, it shows how desperate everyone is to fit in and be able to make an impressive image. The fantastic shots on character's feet show the "strut" in their walk, representing their desire to maintain their reputation of being "cool". All the characters want to be something, while a lot of them will never add up to anything due to their working-class backgrounds. There are a fair amount of American social-comments scattered throughout the film and retaining a surprising amount of intelligent value.
The gloriously groovy and funky soundtrack is possibly the film's finest element. The music accompanies the dance sequences with an amazing amount of memorably robust imagery. The use of The Bee Gees' music is wonderful to listen to and also for helping to create an ambiguous atmosphere of love, drugs and sex. The shooting techniques in the disco are magnificent for filming the dance scenes and fit perfectly alongside the other technical elements.
Saturday Night Fever is a far more professional film than one might expect, it has intelligence as well as entertainment, which is something that makes a more than just admirable achievement. It is a truly remarkable triumph and a film that deserves more appreciation than it gets.
Watched Saturday Night Fever again last night. It's one of those movies I watch everytime it's on & never get bored by it. This movie perfectly captures the feeling of everyday life in a Blue Collar neighborhood, & the frustration that goes with it. Your caught in the middle not rich by any means, but just getting by & the feeling that your never going to get beyond it. Just existing and getting by is an everyday struggle & in this movie it shows how disco is an outlet. I remember 2001 Odyessy was a real club in Brooklyn. Saturday Night Fever is one of those rare movies you can watch & just enjoy yourself. How can you get tired of watching John Travolta walking down the street with a paint can? That opening captured your attention right from the start. You know where these characters are coming from. Tony's friends have basically given up on doing any better & have accepted there fate. Tony & Stephanie know there's something more out there for them & their going for it the best way they can. By the end of the movie I'm rooting for them to "make it big". Being a big John Travolta fan I am a little bit biased. I'll watch anything he's in. '
An uneducated Brooklyn teen (John Travolta, in an Oscar-nominated role) lives in a dream world over the weekends as the king of a disco dance floor. Disillusioned, quietly upset with where his life is, Travolta finds solace by dancing in public to Bee Gee's music and finds love with his newest dance partner (Karen Lynn Gorney). The duo practice for an upcoming contest that could mean total success at last for Travolta and the opportunity to get discovered doing what he really loves. Travolta and his friends seem destined to go down a path of destruction though as a soap opera develops for all the key people found within. "Saturday Night Fever" is a total over-achiever as it could have fallen to exploitation tactics of the 1970s, but becomes one of those iconic films that still stands the test of time. Travolta is a revelation in arguably his greatest role. The other players are adequate and the screenplay is deceptively smarter than it appears on the surface. The movie also works as a time capsule to a part of contemporary American history where discos and bell-bottoms were all the rage. Still one of the finer films of the time period. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Last night, I saw "Saturday Night Fever" on TV. It brought back memories of
my own disco days in the mid- to late 1970s. Sad to say, the film perfectly
captures the emptiness and superficiality of that era, and its negative
impact on people's lives, then and since.
Back then, it was all about how you looked and how you dressed, how you danced and whether you scored. Who knew that the slim, sleek, svelte Travolta would balloon like Elvis Presley - just as all of us were fated to age, lose our hair and expand our waists. The disco culture of the 70s was youth-oriented, but in a brain-dead way, unlike the politically aware late 1960s anti-war youth culture.
"Saturday Night Fever" sends mixed messages. Its soundtrack of BeeGees hits is a siren song of longing and romance, yet the screenplay tells a different story. Tony Manero (John Travolta) rejects poor Annette (Donna Pescow) because she's short and dumpy and not good enough for him. Upwardly mobile Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney) spurns him in turn, offering only the possibility of platonic friendship. Tony's friend Bobby gets his girlfriend pregnant, but is too young and immature to assume his responsibilities. And all Tony's other friends care about is humping virtual strangers for ten minutes in the back seat of a car.
Saturday night fever gives them nothing but Sunday morning hangover - without any Sunday morning spirituality to fill the void in their lives. Religion gets short shrift in this film. Tony's brother Frank leaves the priesthood, not because he struggles with his faith, but because he can't live up to his vow of celibacy. Even he has sex on the brain.
Sex was the be-all and end-all of disco culture - witness the soft-core shots of Travolta in nothing but low-rise briefs - and we have inherited its legacy. I say "we" because I too am a child of the 70s. For the next 25 years, I lived according to the values I had learned on the dance floor. I worshipped at the shrine of youth and beauty and sex - and it left me as empty as the characters in the film. Like Tony Manero, I found that the only cure for "Saturday Night Fever" was to escape that world and that life, and leave all the "beautiful losers" behind.
Saturday Night Fever is thoughtful, engaging, and sometimes brilliant. While some might call it one of the greatest films ever, I must disagree. But along the lines of a groundbreaker, yes it is. The film does for disco what Suburbia did for punk. And the film gives John Travolta, the cool Italian guy from Engelwood, NJ a good break. He plays a paint guy who at nights (and sometimes days) has a love for dancing, which he is absolutely excellent at (those dance scenes are quite memorable). Not always on the money, but when it is, it delivers the goods. Bee Gees provide songs here that everybody likes (I would have to assume from Wayne Campbell's statement in Wayne's World). A-
While the movie is more apt to be recalled for its impact on American pop
culture, few who watch the movie will ever see beyond the admittedly
fantastic dance sequences. As a result, many people might never recognize
Saturday Night Fever as perhaps one of the best movies ever made about class
struggles among white ethnics.
While his quick study under Denny Terrio for those dance sequences showed a great deal of determination, Travolta's Tony Manero shines in so many other way. The looks of embarrassment and exasperation that his character expresses when confronted with the possibility of working in a Bay Ridge paint store all of his life, or the prejudice and regional chauvinism of his friends, or the behavior of his friends at White Castle or his initial inability to express himself to Stephanie in any way that might impress her, all of these and more contribute to a fully realized character.
While Tony's friends idolize him, the movie never really does, but it does allow empathy for his plight, because even Tony realizes that he is virtually trapped by the current conditions of his existence. While much might be made of the homophobia, racism, and misogyny of the protagonist and his friends, these things are never excused and the movie goes to some lengths to express Tony's own recognition that these are shortcomings in not only his character, but those borne of a provincial mentality which he desperately longs to escape.
Forget those who call this a musical. While the music is an intricate part of the film and setting, Travolta's performance is what sets this film apart.
Saturday NIGHT FEVER (1977) **** John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, Joseph Cali, Barry Miller, Julie Bovasso, Val Bosoglio, Donna Pescow. Quintessential film about the Seventies' disco craze that made Travolta an American icon (Best Actor nominee) and superstar as Brooklynite Tony Manero, a free-wheelin' Italian kid who loves to dance but doesn't know what he wants from life despite his talent and some eye-opening advice from dance partner Gorney. Directed on location with gritty realism by John Badham this blockbuster features songs by the ultimate trio The Bee Gees.(My favorite: "How Deep Is Your Love?"). Look for Fran Drescher and Denny Dillon in the dance sequences. For the film vault: a snake-hipped, lupine Travolta cutting loose to "You Should Be Dancing."
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