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I Don't See Anyone Givin You A Raise Down At Unemployment
Bandit19745 January 2006
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.
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Brilliant - Changed my Life
mickash19 May 2013
Watched this as a 15 year old in 1977 at the local cinema - and like many of my friends it was a watershed moment in my life. Opened our eyes to a whole new world - nightclubs, disco music, women, dreams - there was a whole world out there which we;d never seen. In my small town, mobile discos sprouted everywhere - and we all wanted to be John Travolta....and it was one of the catalysts for me to leave home and explore the world.

Watched it again last night, and as a 50 year old it all came flooding back - melancholia obviously setting in because I felt like a 15 year old again - the memories came flooding back. And whilst some of the movie is obviously dated, it still after all these years gives a sense of joy, hope, youth and dreams. The opening scenes are timeless classics, the music is still sensational, and the film really does have some great characters and some brilliant sub plots.

Stil magic - a timeless classic, and personally probably the most influential film I ever saw.
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Blue Collar frustration
peggydigney4 January 2003
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. '
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Beautifully Defines An Era On The Backdrop Of A Realistic Class Study and Dynamic Music
Det_McNulty20 March 2007
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.
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"Would you just watch the hair? I work a long time on my hair, and you hit it!" - Tony Manero.
MovieAddict201614 January 2004
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.
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Modern, and Misunderstood, Classic
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.
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A masterpiece from the greatest era of American cinema.
StarWarsDisco21 March 2003
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 their dreams.

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.
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Living Vicariously Through the Weekends.
tfrizzell23 June 2004
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.
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The undiscovered SNF
jtpaladin9 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
What many people didn't appreciate about SNF was the lifestyle and environment in which this story is set. People don't understand that to be known throughout the neighborhood was a prevailing desire for its' inhabitants.

As a resident of Brooklyn, the highest honor was and is, is to be known by people all around your neighborhood and beyond. I remember chatting with just such a person who kept insisting that if I asked anyone one all around the area, they would know who he is. This may seem foreign to most people but in the neighborhood in which Tony Monero grew up, this was paramount.

Of course, this way of living escaped those audiences that were critical of the film. In all, this was a brilliant expose on life as a Brooklyn youth in the '70's who radiated around their weekend temple of hedonism, the Disco.

SNF works on so many levels that Travolta should easily have won Best Actor for his contribution in his film. SNF was not only a great drama but also a brilliant semi-musical with songs that will last forever.
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Sunday morning hangover
livewire-630 March 2004
Warning: 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.
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Still surprisingly relevant and engrossing despite it's trappings.
Poseidon-33 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Few films can claim the status of creating a national (international, even) phenomenon upon release, but this one can. It offers a glimpse into the restless, nowhere lives of a group of young Brooklyn men, particularly Travolta, an hourly employee in a paint store who burns off steam on the dance floor every weekend. At home, he's considered worthless, but in his favorite dance club, he is monarch of all he surveys with men admiring him and women throwing themselves at him (even offering to dab his sweaty brow!) All important to him is an upcoming dance contest which he feels will propel him into another level of notoriety and prestige and he sets out to win it any way he can, constantly practicing his slickest moves. Gorney plays a social-climbing girl who has laid the ground work for getting out of Brooklyn and, though she is attracted to Travolta, is repulsed by the common qualities he represents. He becomes fascinated by her and considers her his way out of his current surroundings. Meanwhile, Travolta's friends dabble in booze, drugs, sex and gang warfare as they wallow in the stew of their existence. It all builds up to the big night of the contest where things may not turn out as expected. Travolta is magnetic in this, his first major film role. He worked tirelessly to perfect the dance moves which (though, at times, look rather silly today) are a highlight of the film. He also, however, brings much heart, charisma and commitment to the dramatic side of his not-always-sympathetic character. Gorney (who is easily a decade too old for her role) is a good counterpoint to Travolta and ably embodies her tacky, but desperate-to-change, character. She attempts to be as classy and refined as possible, yet her accent and crackling chewing gum belies her past. Their somewhat complex relationship adds some depth to what could have been a very shallow film. Travolta's friends are played with much authenticity and verve. Oddly, these actors continued with only marginally successful careers while Travolta went through the stratosphere. Another carefully etched performance is turned in by Pescow as one of Travolta's devoted followers. She goes a tad overboard near the end, but otherwise presents a solid, though pitiful, characterization. (She was one of the few actors in the film to achieve any sort of success afterwards and even that was limited. Gorney fell off the cinematic map entirely!) Travolta's family is played by more believable and well-textured actors. The music of the film (the soundtrack of which was one of the all time top sellers) is inherent to the story and is a compilation of some of the best that disco had to offer (though some might say even the best was still horrible!) Even the "Disco Sucks" crowd cannot deny the impact that this film had on the country as it set trends everywhere. Interestingly, some of the group numbers in the disco bear a striking similarity to the more recent country line dancing craze, only with more arm movements. The language of the film is tough, but necessary and realistic. There are two gut-wrenchingly suspenseful scenes atop the Verrazano Narrows bridge. It's a time capsule of a hedonistic and free-wheeling era (pre-AIDS) but with insightful examination of class structure and economic barriers, the nature of friendship among young men and the cost of inhumanity towards one another. A rancid and ludicrous sequel (which is good for some unintentional laughs) can not tarnish the spirit of the original film which still holds up today.
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It has it's moments of absolute glory
MisterWhiplash18 March 2001
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-
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Stayin' Alive
californiabeat11 February 2002
Who doesn't remember that song?¿? ah ah ah stayin' alive stayin' alive. Yeah! this movie was a classic!.If we are here to compare it with such movies as The Godfather,Apocalypse Now or Gone with the wind,of course most of the people or cinema critics will think this movie as a joke.But it isn't.Saturday Night Fever was considered in 1977 for liberal or funky people an icon movie such as Rebel Without A Cause was for young people in the 1950's.Today it can even be considered a cult movie.Of course that's only my opinion,but i can tell u i'm also a fan of The Godfather.John Badham made a great job directing this movie.He didn't made only a serious discomusic movie about,but also a movie where problems of young people were having on those days.John Travolta made the lead character of one of those young guys.With his ups and downs during the whole movie Travolta expresses a guy who have urges on being "someone" in this world,and yeah,he did a great job.So good that he was even nominated that year for Best Lead Actor.Need to say more...
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The TAXI DRIVER of disco musicals
ptb-88 September 2007
I believe that Saturday NIGHT FEVER in its original 118 minute R+ version is genuinely one of the great dramas of the 70s, a film so severe, that I liken it to TAXI DRIVER in its relentless scathing depiction of NY life in the 70s. When first released in Australia in 1977 it was the full, full on, foul mouthed vicious version that I astonishingly saw in free to air TV in Sydney last night (on a 9.30pm slot). This R+ version had not been seen here for almost 30 years and only existed in its PG re release that played endlessly as a double feature with GREASE thru the 80s. Amusingly that is exactly how it played last night with GREASE prior at 7.30pm. All that aside, SNF with its scalding expose of the lives of these 20 somethings is a superb film, and for all those moaning about it not being fun because it is a musical... well it is not supposed to be fun... it is a damning comment on the uneducated and ignorance of the lives depicted. If you seek a fun musical then see STEP UP which is NY similar but nowhere as courageous and fully realised as this film. In 1978 with underage fans screaming to be let in, it was considered smart to cut 10 minutes out, dub over all the swearing (especially the two times Travolta says 'c*nt' in the same sentence, all the references and scenes to car sex...) and make it PG friendly... and it certainly was a success. But if you want a "Scorsese version" as originally released, and you can tell drama from drivel, then this full R+ version is for you. I have never seen a better damning of an uneducated bunch of cruel insensitive people in any film... and if there is a moral to this cinematic thrashing... it is that if you are not educated then you will end up like this lot. Brit director John Badham has drawn well from the equally vicious portrayals seen in the 'kitchen sink' dramas made in Britain in the early 60s like "Saturday Night And Sunday Morning" or THIS SPORTING LIFE where the working class who are bogged in their ignorance keep returning to an emotional bruising cycle of behaviour until one just plain stops and looks at himself. Like Tony does in this film. I also believe the scene with Karen Lyn Gorney and Travolta in the empty apartment they consider renting is one of the great moments in any American film (she is sitting on the window sill). This is a great film, uncompromising in its depiction of that 'lifestyle' cornered through ignorant mean-ness into delusion and nowhere. Perfectly realised. then cut to a PG. See the original.
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You Should Be Dancing!
george.schmidt6 June 2002
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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A lot better than you'd think... (*a couple of spoilers within*)
saturdaze2 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
There are some people who, at the mere mention of the words "Saturday Night Fever" giggle or smirk or give you a "You actually watch that movie?" look as if it's a piece of celluloid which people only took seriously from 1977 to 1979. Most of the people who have that attitude either have never sat down to watch the whole movie (these people probably think Travolta wore the white suit throughout all 120 minutes of the film and think that the whole thing took place inside the discotheque), or they've never seen the movie at all and have relied on what others say, or they just loathe disco music (and for these latter people, there's not much that can be done).

But if you look at the movie in its entirety--the R rated version, preferably (the PG version is too watered down and isn't the Real Thing)--you will be surprised at just how genuinely involving and worthy the movie is.

You will also be surprised by how great Travolta is. Yes, he plays a character similar to his Vinnie Barbarino TV character in that both are Italian, working-class, and native to Brooklyn, but the similarities end there. While Barbarino is shallow and awkwardly cool, Tony Manero is deep and smoothly hip; while Barbarino is happy-go-lucky, Manero is seriously troubled and doubtful about many things; while Barbarino is dim-witted, Manero is not only street-smart but also people-smart: he sees right through his dance partner Stephanie's refined veneer, and through his father's superior facade.

The point here is that Travolta proved in "SNF" that he's the Real Deal--not just a pretty face or a good dancer or a comic actor but an ACTOR, period. And the Oscar nomination he received for his performance is evidence of that. I personally don't think Travolta has given a performance since then which is as consistently on-target, nuanced, and powerful as the one he gives in this movie (and yes, I'm including "Pulp Fiction" when I make that statement).

I won't say much about the music because everybody knows by now how great and attention-grabbing it is. But what doesn't get as much credit are the movie's director and story. John Badham nicely captures the energy of the disco, especially in the Line-Dancing/Hustle scene at the half-hour point: he gives the scene a dreamy quality complete with camera Dissolves and smoke, and he's not afraid to take his time and let the scene play on. Anyone who's ever been on the dance floor knows that sensation: the feeling that time has stopped and all that exists are you and the music.

Many people have said that the movie's weakest aspect is its story. They say it's unnecessarily sordid, ugly, and disturbing. In fact, the movie's original choice for director--another John- John G. Avildsen--declined to do the film because he felt the story was too downbeat. But I think the downbeat quality is just as necessary an ingredient of the story as its disco music. One of the movie's points is that Disco is an escape, a multi-colored paradise in which Tony Manero and everyone else for that matter can forget about the ugly, unfair world patiently waiting for them outside. That's why Tony flips out toward the end at the dance contest when the Top Prize unfairly goes to him and Stephanie instead of to the more deserving Puerto Rican couple. He sees that the injustice of the outside world has pierced through the silver walls of the disco world---a world which he had always thought was too special, pure, and innocent to allow that inside; and now, that world has been tainted...with Reality.

Another quality of the film that tends to get overlooked is the supporting acting. I'm surprised that most people have cited Karen Lynn Gorney's performance as being among the movie's weaknesses. I think people say that because Travolta's presence is so charismatic and overwhelming that her contribution has gotten eclipsed. But if you take a good look at her performance you'll see that she creates a convincing, impressive portrait of a woman fiercely struggling with what she wants to be, what she is, and what she used to be. Gorney's Stephanie is a fascinating character: a woman with a goddess' face but a Brooklyn-gutter-girl's voice.

I saw "SNF" when it first came out--I was 5-years-old; now I'm 30, and I will always remember the powerful effect the movie had on me. Even at age 5, I was surprised at how great Travolta was and how engrossing the story and music were. And that's why I keep coming back to it--to relive that experience over and over and a favorite record.
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Staying Alive To Jive
bkoganbing26 January 2009
Saturday Night Fever holds a special place in the hearts of all the residents of Brooklyn. Besides being the visual symbol of the disco era, it is also the best filmed recollection of the post Dodgers era of Brooklyn which sad to say is still going on.

Brooklyn does not have the Dodgers any more and in fact the 2001 club is no longer there, but you can see a lot of the area that was photographed in Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton. I could even show you the places on tour.

But it's the music and story of Saturday Night Fever that has made it an enduring classic. John Travolta left the sweathogs of Welcome Back Kotter and broke out as a major film star playing Tony Manero in this film. Travolta's a kid working at a paint store in a dead end job, hanging out with his dead end friends who has only one great talent going for him. On Saturday night when he goes to the 2001, he's king of the dance floor.

He can get just about any girl he wants and quite a few would like him, especially Donna Pescow, but Travolta's got his eye on Karen Lynn Gorney who is of Italian background like himself, but has real career aspirations as a dancer. Travolta and Gorney agree to dance together, but John just can't let it go at that.

The only Oscar that Saturday Night Fever was nominated for was John Travolta as Best Actor. He lost that year to Richard Dreyfuss in The Goodbye Girl. Travolta does a great job in playing Tony Manero, a kid who over the course of the film realizes there is a great big world out there beyond his neighborhood. A lot of things help convince him of that, his involvement with Gorney, his dancing, his dead ending friends one of whom meets with real tragedy.

Special mention should go to Barry Miller playing Bobby C, one of the Travolta friends. He's such a sad case trying so desperately to belong with the crowd. They tolerate him basically because he's got the car and he takes the gang where they want to go.

The Motion Picture Academy has committed some god awful blunders in its time. But one of the worst was its total non-recognition of the music of the Gibb Brothers and the other music from Saturday Night Fever. Saturday Night Fever was incredibly not even nominated for Best Musical Score. Not one of the songs from the BeeGees and others was nominated for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture. The winner that year was You Light Up My Life, a nice song, but has never had the enduring popularity of any number of the BeeGee tunes like How Deep Is Your Love, Staying Alive, You Should Be Dancing, or Night Fever.

The Brooklyn shown in Saturday Night Fever is a Brooklyn that most grew up with. Only old codgers like myself remember the Dodgers, but Saturday Night Fever is Brooklyn for the next couple of generations.
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Not what it's supposed to be - and that's a good thing
LuvSopr17 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
There are many, many people who watch this movie for the first time expecting what pop culture remembers of it - disco, a white suit, a fun family dinner scene.

There are many, many people who watch this movie and come away horrified, because of the frank depictions of racism, sexism, and sexual assault (depictions that likely would not be in a major film today - and even at the time got the director fired from another project).

This frankness leads to some objections to the film that I wholeheartedly disagree with, such as it being "sexist" or that it "slut shames" Annette for being raped. The whole point of the that scene is that it's wrong that Annette to be raped. That even if she agreed (while under the influence) to "run a train," it's still terrible and disgusting. Tony shaming her is also supposed to be terrible. We aren't supposed to watch this scene and think what happens to her is fine or that Tony's reaction is fine.

Tony and his friends live in a world where there is no such thing as racism or rape. It's all about them. It's all about getting what they can, and blaming others who in their minds take it from them. They have fun, they go out and dance, but they are dying inside.

Tony does not realize any of this about himself or his friends until he gets several system shocks (meeting Stephanie, his brother leaving the priesthood, beating a better couple in a dance contest solely because he's white, his friend's suicide). He slowly but surely sees that he is a racist, a misogynist, that he has an incredibly toxic relationship with his parents he has to escape from before he will never have an escape.

This aspect of the film is timeless - watching this in 2014 you will understand as much as you would have in 1977, if not more.

The performances are uniformly superb. Travolta gives a career best, and a great deal of the film's appeal is based not only on his charisma and acting, but on his refusal to allow Tony to be whitewashed as a character. Karen Lynn Gorney has the most difficult role in the film - a woman trapped between two worlds even as she takes Tony down the same path. She plays the soft moments but also plays the harsh, condescending moments too. The scene where we meet her ex-boyfriend and realize he was "educating" her just as she's trying to educate her is one of the most poignant in the film, because we see just how much of how she behaves with Tony is projection, is a shell. Joseph Cali is also superb, as he gives so many layers to a role that is ultimately only a symbol of Tony's breaking away, not a character. His work in small but ultimately pivotal moments like his attempt to counsel Bobby (initially treating him as something of a joke, then genuinely trying, yet still not getting it) is so surprisingly complex. And he and Travolta have wonderful chemistry together. Donna Pescow takes a character we could easily dismiss the way the men in the film do, and she breaks our hearts, especially those close-ups of her expressive eyes. Who else could make a scene with holding a bunch of condoms into such exquisite sorrow?

The worst mistake the film makes is not handling Tony's attempted rape of Stephanie with more care. Deleted scenes suggest that the last scene in the film (where he goes to her apartment to talk to her) was darker in tone, with Stephanie refusing to let him and his only getting into the building because someone opened the door to leave. The movie takes that out, and leaves a somewhat hesitant Stephanie pledging to help Tony a friend. The problem with this is it undercuts the ugliness of what he did, especially as it had happened only a few hours before. It spoils what could have been a beautiful last scene and takes away from the other ambiguous moments in the film regarding sexism and rape that genuinely present this as bad and wrong.

I strongly recommend this movie, but please warn people not to just expect polyester and hip thrusts.
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More Than Dancing
jacktorrance12327 June 2013
Gene Siskel's favorite film. Although "Saturday Night Fever'' appealed to him primarily on an emotional level, Siskel spoke about it in terms of its themes, and there are two central ones. First, the desire of all young people to escape from a life sentence of boring work and attain their version of the beckoning towers of Manhattan. Second, the difficulty that some men have in relating to women as comrades and friends and not simply sex facilitators.

There is a scene in the movie where the hero, Tony Manero, sits on a bench with Stephanie, the girl he loves, and tells her all about one of the bridges out of Brooklyn: Its height, length, how many cubic yards of concrete went into its making--and you can taste his desire to cross that bridge and leave Brooklyn behind. Earlier, Stephanie has described him in a few brutal words: "You live with your parents, you hang with your buddies and on Saturday nights you burn it all off at 2001 Odyssey. You're a cliché. You're nowhere, going' no place.'' Tony senses that she is right.

No one wonder Saturday Night Fever is still Stayin' Alive!
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Resonates with a certain generation
blanche-26 October 2012
1977's "Saturday Night Fever" is a movie that strongly resonates with a particular generation - mine. Five minutes of the movie brings it all back -- the disco era, the incredible Bee Gees music, and the charm, charisma and dance moves that was young John Travolta. If you were around then, you'll remember the cultural explosion this film caused. It simply defined the era, the way "Flashdance," an inferior film, did in a smaller way with the off one shoulder sweatshirt and music.

For me watching this movie has the added plus of being a film about Brooklyn made in Brooklyn and New York City, where I lived. In fact, a young woman in my dance class is kissed by Travolta as he walks into the club. I can still remember how excited she was talking about it in class.

It's the era of platform shoes, polyester shirts, and big blow-dried hair, and in the midst of it is a young Brooklyn man (Travolta) who has a gifted natural ability for dance is surrounded by friends heading nowhere and Italian-American parents who are afraid that he's just like his crowd. He finally realizes, thanks to his relationship with his pretty, uptown girl dance partner Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney), partly because of a tragedy, and partly because of his talent that he needs to stretch himself and move beyond his friends and neighborhood. As Stephanie says to him, "You live with your parents, you hang with your buddies and on Saturday nights you burn it all off at 2001 Odyssey. You're a cliché. You're nowhere, going' no place." As Tony Manero, John Travolta is a sexy number with his swiveling hips and white suit, and he has a neighborhood girl (Donna Pescow) in love with him, as well as one of his friends, Bobby (Barry Miller) who's gay and doesn't know it, but always shows off for Tony and cries when Tony doesn't call him.

I love what Roger Ebert says about the effect of this film, which was his review partner Gene Siskel's favorite: "We all have a powerful memory of the person we were at that moment when we formed a vision for our lives. Tony Manero stands poised precisely at that moment. He makes mistakes, he fumbles, he says the wrong things, but when he does what he loves he feels a special grace." Directed with both realism and romance by John Badham, "Saturday Night Fever," especially for those of us who were young during the disco era, holds a very special place.
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fun till the last act
jonathan-57725 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Can you believe that only thirty years ago working-class social realism was a commercial cliché? This movie looks and feels like 'Taxi Driver' when the strobe lights are off, and there's cussin' and humpin' all over it. A lot of it is very fun, including the revelation of hearing that Bee Gees stuff in context, as seventies soundtrack music, which turns out to make perfect sense. And it's truly freaky to see John Travolta fawning over bedroom posters of Farrah, Stallone and Al Pacino, and realize that this guy was the next wave - at this remove he's one of them, but here he's standing outside looking in. And he's been caught in the turnstile ever since, of course. Unfortunately the class politics do get pretty muddled, especially in the love-interest department - however pretentious what's-er-name's upward mobility turns out to be, their partnership does turn out to be a means of 'getting out,' an unnecessary conceit. And in order to justify that conceit, things get laid on pretty thick; the paper-thin ironic distance is suddenly dropped, buddy pulls a Sal Mineo on the bridge, and you half think that Badham takes Travolta's ex for a "c*nt" too.In other words, it stops being fun. I had to entertain myself by imagining that Robert Stigwood optioned "Wedding in White" and morphed it into this script in one very loud, three-hour story meeting. Coulda happened!
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Loneliness & elation rolled into a film reflecting its era.
marlasingers19 November 2004
It's funny how people remember a film they are reminiscing about. An example would be "Muriel's Wedding" - a film that is labeled as a comedy. And yet it is one of the saddest & most realistic films about family life that has been made. When you remember the film, its moments of humour are so clever, that they hide the dark undercurrents explored.

The same goes for "Saturday Night Fever" (SNF), a film that showcases disco in its most perfect form. And yet the true theme of the movie is about wanting more out of your life but just existing, until something affects you so much that you decide to start living.

John Travolta's character is so well played against his friends who are, quite simply, cruel no hopers who disrespect the opposite sex & treat them as fifth best against the car they all share to have 'mobile' sex in.

The female character that eventually shifts Travolta's character appears at a time when horrific events really force him to reassess where he is going – something that his friends will never be unable to ever do.

It is easy to label a movie a certain way. There are films with similar themes such as 'Good Will Hunting', which is noted for its themes & dialogue rather than being a kitsch memory, and we should remember SNF for the same reasons.
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More Than a Disco Movie
Brian Washington23 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Saturday Night Fever is more than just a disco movie. This film is a great coming of age story. As the movie rolls along, Tony begins to realize there is more to life than just hanging out with his buddies and screwing every female in site. At the end you can see this when he refuses his prize in the dance contest. This film also covers the breakup of a family. When Tony's brother decides to leave the priesthood, this already puts more strain on the tenuous relationship between all the members of his family, especially his father.
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This one was something of a shock to me.
Michael DeZubiria10 May 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Every time I take a film class, I see five or six films that I would otherwise probably never have watched, and Saturday Night Fever was one of the films that I saw for a class I'm taking about Italian Cinema, and I was surprised at how good it is! To me, this movie never evoked any interest because I don't find anything interesting about disco dancing and I don't think John Travolta is the most fetching actor in the world. Clearly, he hasn't exactly had the most enviable career. But Saturday Night Fever is not about dancing, there is just so much more to it.

There can be no doubt about the irony of Travolta starring in a film in which he is the best dancer in town while he is at the height of his awkward youth, but like I said, the movie is not just about dancing. The dancing is a backdrop for a much deeper meaning. The movie has violence, blood, death, crime, sex, nudity, everything that you would almost automatically expect to be absent from a film like this. I thought it was going to be some goofy romance (made goofy by Travolta, of course. Can you even imagine him in a romantic comedy?), I mean, it has romance, but the movie is so much more.

Saturday Night Fever is a very realist film about a young Italian kid who lives in a run-down neighborhood in Brooklyn and who is trying to find meaning in his life, which is virtually meaningless when he is off the dance floor. He has a crappy job, no education beyond high school, an unhappy life at home, and no prospects for the future. His concept of the future is what he's going to wear to the dance hall (charmingly named 2001 Odyssey) on Saturday night. Clearly, outside the dance hall, he is not the hero that he is on the dance floor. Early in the film, Tony (Travolta) is walking down the street and he runs back to talk to a girl that he walked past, and she blows him off, seeming to be annoyed by him (which is weird, because who could resist a disco stud carrying a paint can!). Yet when he is at the dance hall, the crowd parts for him, girls ask if they can wipe the sweat off his forehead, he is the king.

The costumes are excellent, from the first frames of the film that show Tony walking down the street in his hilariously disco outfit and all throughout the film. I remember one scene where one of Tony's geeky friends, Bobby, lets Tony borrow his car, and then as Bobby walks away, you can see that he has on what have to be the most ludicrous disco shoes ever created. Tony's meticulous care about his outfit is made clear when he wears a sheet wrapped around himself to the dinner table, and then gets upset not that his father hit him, but that he hit his HAIR. `I spend a lot of time on my hair, and you hit it.' However, no matter how hard he tries, he does NOT look like Al Pacino.

(spoilers) But on a deeper level, Saturday Night Fever has to do with everything from doing what you want to do with your own life to loyalty among friends to religious persecution and hypocrisy. There is also some substantial symbolism in that bridge that Tony knows so much about and which Bobby doesn't seem to have been mature enough to cross late in the film. `It's a dog eat dog world,' and Saturday Night Fever uses dancing as only one among many techniques to deliver that message. The film is dated in many ways, but it remains a landmark film, especially concerning the Italian experience in America in the 70s, and is definitely worth a look.
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Decaf Scorcese with unlikeable characters. Good dancing though.
wadechurton19 February 2012
Okay, I was into punk not disco back in 1977, and held off seeing this movie on ideological grounds for many years. Perhaps if I'd seen it during its heyday it would have carried more weight, but when disengaged from the giddy heights of the disco era it does not travel well. This is basically 'Scorcese lite'; a sort of 'Mean Streets' done for teens, and missing out almost everything which made Scorcese's work so compelling. The viewer is faced with a parade of characters so stupid, self-centred and under-developed that it is virtually impossible to bond with any of them. Tony Manero is an idiot and his friends are even more moronic, whilst the girls are doormats (nice-but-dim Annette) or emotionally distant egotists (brash big-talking Stephanie). Add to this some downright unfathomable casting; Martin Shakar looks more like Tony's uncle than his brother (seriously, he looks a good ten years older) and whilst cast as Tony's crucial dance partner, Karen Lynn Gorney's ability is conspicuously 'school lunchtime disco'. Check the bit at the dance studio where she and Tony converse whilst she's practicing; it looks like she's been learning to dance for all of twenty minutes. Having said that, the dance scenes themselves are the high point of the movie, even if they are all Tony's show. In fact, there is an uncomfortable strand of narcissism and outright homo-eroticism to 'SNF' which is all in keeping with the essentially non-macho disco scene. With its falsetto vocals, elaborate studio-bound arrangements and invariably sex-obsessed lyrics, the music was made by producers, not neighbourhood bands, and the emphasis was on glitter and flash, not grit and trash. The dance scene's flamboyant, exhibitionist nature was far more in-tune with 'gay' sensibilities than the world of rock music, and so it was that disco suffered a boom-and-bust popularity over the late 1970s. 'Straight' society briefly sampled what the movement had to offer and then moved on to more gender-friendly cultural climes. By 1979 it was all over, and 'new wave' music was all the rage. Considerations of personal taste aside, 'SNF' is less than the sum of its parts, clumsily realised with characters who come far too close to being repellent without any redemptive qualities. It is all too apparently a vehicle for John Travolta, who served notice with his performance that his entire career would be based on slight variations on his 'Vinnie Barbarino' character from 'Welcome Back Kotter'. He struts solipsistically through 'SNF' wearing the exact same expression you see staring blankly back at you from a fish-shop window. Away from the dance floor, he could not carry the movie, which is a massive weak point since none of the other characters are as extensively written. By all means watch 'SNF' for nostalgia, for the dancing or the music or the actors, but not as a movie experience, because you will be disappointed.
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