Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Critic Consensus: Boasting a smart, poignant story, a classic soundtrack, and a starmaking performance from John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever ranks among the finest dramas of the 1970s.
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as Tony Manero
as Double J
as Paint Store Customer
as Girl in Disco
as Jay Langhart
as Haberdashery Salesma...
as Pizza Girl
as Frank Sr.
as Woman in Paint Store
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Critic Reviews for Saturday Night Fever
Saturday Night Fever is wonderfully honest and completely accurate when it comes to depicting that stagnant environment that keeps young people like Tony pinned down.
Travolta's characterization, given the script and directorial demands, is okay. It will please the already-committed; but it won't win him any new fans.
Mr. Travolta is deft and vibrant, and he never condescends to the character, not even in a scene that has Tony and Stephanie arguing about whose Romeo and Juliet it is, Zeffirelli's or Shakespeare's.
Audience Reviews for Saturday Night Fever
I was shocked. This film was way better than I expected. I was tempted to fast-forward the many dance sequences, but around them, John Travolta builds an interesting and compelling character with a performance worthy of its Academy Award nomination. His character, Tony Manero, has Rocky and Serpico posters on the bedroom wall in his parents' Brooklyn home, and he joins his idols as an Italian-American everyman on-screen, breaking free from a traditional family, and learning - when he meets Stephanie, who's leaving Brooklyn for Manhattan thanks to a job at an advertising agency - that his big-fish-in-a-small-pond days may be coming to an end. And though the film culminates in a dance competition, the movie's not about disco dancing at all; it's about class, and upbringing, and social status: a place to stand in the world... but yeah, fast-forward the dance sequences. There are some Bee-Gees songs that deserve to stand the test of time, but those used in this film, if not for this film, would have been otherwise forgettable.
Silly but, for some strange reason, charming.
First off, a disclaimer: no, I had never actually seen this before (but still had preconceived notions about it), and I don't really care for the disco scene.
You might be wondering then why I finally decided to give it a chance and watch it. Well, a couple of reasons. As a burgeoning historian wishing to specialize in 20th century pop culture studies, specifically the 60s and 70s, I kinda can't ignore this. Also, even though I'm still not a fan of disco music or dancing, I've grown to respect and appreciate it. Thus, all my old views that this movie was some stupid, cheesy piece of disco kitsch, while still a bit existant, had overtime softened some, and I felt like I would be mature enough to give it a chance, maybe even realize that there's more to it than it seems.
Wouldn't you know it, I ended up being right. It's wrong to just marginalize this movie as disco kitsch. Yes, the disco scene is a major part of it, but it is, really, just the backdrop. If you take away the fashion, music, and dancing ,you'll see that this is really a great coming of age story and touches upon some deep issues that are very important to people. Unfortunately it's the music, fashion, and dancing that were capitalized on in the ad campaigns and seem to be what people would prefer to remember, and I don't think that's right.
Tony Manero is an immature working class 19 year-old who lives with his family in Brroklyn's Bay Ridge neighborhood. By day he works at a paint and hardware store, but every Saturday night, he puts his reality on hold and becomes the king of the local disco, wowing people with his moves, and really living it up. He pals around with a bunch of immature macho thugs, and, while he likes them, you can tell that he really wants more out of life, and knows that he needs to grow up and moe on if he really wants to make his life more fulfilling, perhaps by using his dancing to get the job done.
I wasn't expecting this movie to be a serious drama that does deal with some deep issues as serious subtext. The material is taken seriously, and, while some of this movie is fun (it really is hard to not get swept up in the mess that was the late 70s), there's also a lot of sadness, and some grim and grittty moments that, while uncomfortable, are very much real and unavoidable. If only I would have known from the beginning that this movie was a touching coming of age character study I probably would have been mroe eager to give it a chance sooner.
John Travolta became a star here, and yes, he does give a fantastic performance. He's not the only one, though. Karen Lynn Gorney is great as Stephanie the woman who agrees to partner with Tony for a dance competition. Donna Pescow is really good as a woman who's love for Tony is unrequited, and Val Biscoglio and Julie Bovasso as wonderful as Tony's bickering parents.
The music does grow on you, and in context, the whole disco era does too. It was a messed up time in the world. I'm still not that big on disco tunes, but compared to contemporary club music, this at least comes off as being real music. You really should give this one a chance. You don't have to care about or enjoy disco appreciate this movie. The worst hting you can do is be like me and make unwarranted judgments before actually sitting down and watching this. Give it a shot. Like me, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised by what you see.
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