Saturday Night Fever Reviews
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.
Getting past the polyester look and the Bee Gees soundtrack, Saturday Night Fever is about a young Brooklyn named Tony Manero (John Travolta) who is your typical twenty something working a dead end job at a hardware store and supporting his family with his wages. Of course all of this plays second fiddle to Tony whose really passion isn't paint swatches and hammers, but dancing. An example would be Paul Newman having pool in The Hustler, Tony has dancing. He thrives on it. It is his life, no matter what everyone else says.
Of course Tony's life is full of problems. His family doesn't understand him with his blown dry hair, Bruce Lee posters, and that damn polyester look. They're more concerned with his brother the priests. His friends are perpetually going to be exactly the same, cruising bars and clubs through out the non-glamorous end of the George Washington bridge. And of course there's women. Tony doesn't have a problem getting a little action, but it's one girl in particular (Karen Lynn Gorney) that Tony has to work on, not for a booty call but for a dance partner.
The thing that really sets Saturday Night Fever apart is the idea of Tony wanting to aspire to more than his life of shaking paint during the day and shaking his ass at night. He wants it. He knows dance is the way to get it, but he doesn't bludgeon everyone (including the audience) with his need to claw out of Brooklyn for the greener grass in Manhattan. You never really know what he's thinking even when he says something that can lead us to believe his true feelings. He's the classic example of the repressed Italian-American male. Don't rock the boat.
Directed by John Badham, Saturday Night Fever is probably one of the defining films of the 1970's. It's a pure time capsule that can be seen as a punchline to most with it's rainbow colored floors, Brothers Gibb sound and that polyester look. It's really much more than that. It's a basic tale of a guy that doesn't know what the hell he wants to do. It's a fine film that's been scorched into our memory because of that white suit and the arm in the air. It's a lot better than that.
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
Aloha, insomniac1968. If you see this, I want to add grabbing and grinding a slice of pizza to the paint cans :) Eh, Tony, you've got red on you.
Before the days of these terrible new dance movies involving steping up, stomping, and serving, there was Saturday Night Fever.
This movie doesn't follow any sort of standard plot, and even the parts it does follow, it's handled differently then cliche ways.
John Travolta gives one of his best performances out of a small list as a young brooklyn workin' kid, who spends his weekends dancin' at the club. His character is great. He has his brooklyn accent down, which will help him in one of his other great roles in Get Shorty, his walk, his speech, and his dancin. He literally is the coolest guy in the room.
What makes this movie good is how these characters are all real. They all act in realistic ways and do things that these people would do. You also feel for characters like bobby and annette, because of how they are treated and the actions they take.
And don't forget the soundtrack. This movie easily has one of the best all time scores. I love hearing BeeGees Music, i'm just that kind of guy.