The 50’s had REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, the 60’s had EASY RIDER and the 70’s had SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. I hadn’t seen the film since I was a young boy and it was a defining movie of my adolescent years (next to STAR WARS of course!). So I found it a mesmerizing experience to revisit and reminisce.
Directed by John Badham on a low budget, the movie itself is a frozen moment in time. A period piece made during the actual time period. It strives and excels at raw realism in its characters and especially in its dialogue, which pulls no punches in regards to profanity and racial epithets.
Tony Manero (John Travolta) lives a blue-collar life in New York. He is defined by his Italian heritage. His devoutly religious parents see him as the black sheep of the family and wish he could be more like his older brother Frank who joined the priesthood.
Tony finds solace in his own church: 2001 Odyssey, a disco where he is the king of the dance floor and worshipped as a God by his friends and legions of fans (mostly of the female kind). Handsome and self-assured, he is also not that smart and his options in life are limited.
He meets Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney), an aspiring ballet dancer, and sets his sights on her. Not only is she high-class in his mind, but she would make an ideal partner for the upcoming Disco contest. Unfortunately, she wants nothing to do with him, but decides against her better judgment to partner up for the contest.
The film is fairly simplistic in its plot, but it’s supposed to be more about the characters and their lot in life…Oh, and did I mention the music?
Still one of the best selling soundtracks of all time, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER contains some of the most iconic music of the 70’s. This is thanks to the powerhouse talent of the BEE GEES. Working at the top of their game, the movie is chockfull of some of the greatest Disco songs ever such as “Stayin’ Alive,” “You Should Be Dancing,” and “More Than a Woman.” The movie is worth watching just for the music.
All in all, re-watching SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER was a pleasant stride down memory lane. It’s not high cinema, but it catapulted John Travolta to stardom and earned him a deserved Oscar Nomination, and damn, that boy could dance!