Saturday Night Fever
|Saturday Night Fever|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Badham|
|Produced by||Robert Stigwood
Kevin McCormick (Executive Producer)
|Screenplay by||Norman Wexler|
|Based on||Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night
by Nik Cohn
Karen Lynn Gorney
|Music by||Barry Gibb
|Cinematography||Ralf D. Bode|
|Editing by||David Rawlins|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
118 minutes (R-rated),112 minutes (PG-rated)
Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 American dance film directed by John Badham and starring John Travolta as Tony Manero, an immature young man whose weekends are spent visiting a local Brooklyn discothèque; Karen Lynn Gorney as his dance partner and eventual friend; and Donna Pescow as Tony's former dance partner and would-be girlfriend. While in the disco, Tony is the king. His care-free youth and weekend dancing help him to temporarily forget the reality of his life: a dead-end job, clashes with his unsupportive and squabbling parents, racial tensions in the local community, and his associations with a gang of macho friends.
A huge commercial success, the film significantly helped to popularize disco music around the world and made Travolta, already well known from his role on TV's Welcome Back, Kotter, a household name. The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, featuring disco songs by the Bee Gees, is one of the best selling soundtracks of all time. The film is the first example of cross-media marketing, with the tie-in soundtrack's single being used to help promote the film before its release and the film popularizing the entire soundtrack after its release. The film also showcased aspects of the music, the dancing, and the subculture surrounding the disco era: symphony-orchestrated melodies, haute-couture styles of clothing, pre-AIDS sexual promiscuity, and graceful choreography.
The story is based upon a 1976 New York magazine article by British writer Nik Cohn, "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night". In the late 1990s, Cohn acknowledged that the article had been fabricated. A newcomer to the United States and a stranger to the disco lifestyle, Cohn was unable to make any sense of the subculture he had been assigned to write about; instead, the character who became Tony Manero was based on a Mod acquaintance of Cohn's.
Anthony "Tony" Manero (John Travolta) is a 19-year old Italian American from the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City. Tony lives at home with his parents (Val Bisoglio and Julie Bovasso), and works a dead-end job in a small hardware store by day. But every Saturday night, Tony is "king of the dance floor" at 2001 Odyssey, a local disco club. Tony has four close friends: Joey (Joseph Cali); Double J (Paul Pape); Gus (Bruce Ornstein); and the diminutive Bobby C. (Barry Miller). Another informal member of their group is Annette (Donna Pescow), a neighborhood girl who longs for a more permanent and physical relationship with Tony.
One plot device in the story is the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, on which the friends ritually stop to clown around, but is particularly symbolic to Tony as an escape to a better life on the other side, in more suburban Staten Island.
Tony agrees to be Annette's partner in an upcoming dance contest at 2001 Odyssey, but her happiness is short-lived when Tony becomes infatuated with another girl dancing at the club, Stephanie Mangano (Karen Lynn Gorney). Stephanie coldly rejects Tony's advances, but eventually agrees to be his partner in the competition, nothing more. Tony's older brother, Frank Jr. (Martin Shakar), who was the pride of the family since becoming a priest in the Catholic Church, brings despair to their parents when he quits the priesthood. Tony shares a warm relationship with Frank Jr., but feels vindicated, no longer being the black sheep.
While on his way home from the grocery store, Gus is attacked by a Hispanic gang and is hospitalized, and tells the guys it was the Barracudas. Meanwhile, Bobby C. has been trying to get out of his relationship with his devoutly Catholic girlfriend, Pauline, who is pregnant with his child. Facing pressure from his family and others to marry her, Bobby asks former priest Frank Jr., if the Pope would grant him dispensation for an abortion. But when Frank tells him this would be highly unlikely, Bobby's feelings of despair deepen. Bobby C also lets Tony borrow his 1964 Chevrolet Impala to help move Stephanie from Bay Ridge to Manhattan, with Tony promising to call him later that night, but Tony does not.
Eventually, the group gets their revenge on the Barracudas, and crash Bobby C's car into their hangout. Tony, Double J and Joey get out to fight, but Bobby C. takes off when a gang member tries to attack him in the car. When the guys visit Gus in the hospital, they are angry when he tells them that he may have fingered the wrong gang. Later, Tony and Stephanie dance at the competition and end up winning first prize. However, Tony believes that a Puerto Rican couple performed better, and the judges' decision was based on racism. He gives the Puerto Ricans the first prize, and leaves with Stephanie in tow. Once outside in the car, he tries to rape Stephanie, resulting in her fleeing from him.
Tony's friends come to the car along with a drunken and stoned Annette, who Joey says has agreed to have sex with everyone. Tony tries to lead her away, but is subdued by Double J and Joey, and sullenly leaves with the group in the car. Double J and Joey take turns with Annette, who begins to sober up during what has become a rape scene. Bobby C. pulls the car over on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge for the usual cable-climbing antics. Typically abstaining, Bobby gets out and performs more dangerous stunts than the rest. Realizing that he is acting recklessly, Tony tries to get him to come down. But upset at his lonely life, his situation with Pauline, and a broken promise from Tony earlier, Bobby issues a tirade at Tony's lack of care before slipping and falling to his death more than two hundred feet in the water below.
Disgusted and disillusioned by his friends, his life and his family, Tony spends the rest of the night riding the subway. As morning comes, he finally shows up at Stephanie's apartment in Manhattan, apologizing for his bad behavior. He tells her that he plans to leave Brooklyn and come to Manhattan to try and start a new life. Tony and Stephanie salvage their relationship and agree to be friends, sharing a tender moment as the credits roll.
Versions and sequel 
Two theatrical versions of the film were released: the original R-rated version and an edited PG-rated version. (The PG-rated re-issue was in 1978; the middle-ground PG-13 rating was not created until 1984.)
The R-rated version released in 1977 represented the movie's first run, and totaled 118 minutes.
After the success of the first run, in 1978 the film was re-issued to a PG-rated version and re-released during a second run to attract a wider audience. The R-rated version contained profanity, nudity, a fight sequence, and a multiple rape scene in a car, all of which were de-emphasized or removed from the PG version.
Producer Robert Stigwood said in a recent interview[when?] on "The Inside Story: Saturday Night Fever", about the PG version: "It doesn't have the power, or the impact, of the original, R-rated edition."
The PG-rated version was 112 minutes. Numerous profanity-filled scenes were replaced with alternate takes of the same scenes, substituting milder language initially intended for the network television cut. To maintain runtime, a few deleted scenes were restored (including Tony dancing with Doreen to "Disco Duck," Tony running his finger along the cables of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and Tony's father getting his job back).
Both theatrical versions were released on VHS, Laserdisc, CED Videodisc, and DVD. But the R-rated version never saw wide release until its Laserdisc (in limited edition) and DVD issues. The R-rated special-edition DVD release includes most of the deleted scenes present on the PG version. Both the PG- and R-rated DVD releases also include a director's commentary and "Behind the Music" highlights. Starting in the late 1990s VH1, TBS, and TNT started showing the original R-rated version with a TV-14 rating. The nudity was removed/censored, and the stronger profanity was either edited or (on recent airings) silenced. But this TV edit included some of the innuendos from the original film that were edited or removed from the PG version. Turner Classic Movies has aired the film in both versions (the R-rated version is commonly seen on their normal lineup, while the PG version has appeared on TCM's "Funday Night at the Movies" and "Essentials Jr." program blocks.)
The network television version (which premiered on November 16, 1980 on ABC) was basically a slightly shortened form of the PG-rated version, but contained several minutes of out-takes normally excised from both theatrical releases to make up for lost/cut material. It is among the longest cuts of the film..
- John Travolta as Anthony "Tony" Manero
- Karen Lynn Gorney as Stephanie Mangano
- Barry Miller as Bobby C.
- Joseph Cali as Joey
- Paul Pape as Double J.
- Donna Pescow as Annette
- Bruce Ornstein as Gus
- Val Bisoglio as Frank Manero, Sr.
- Julie Bovasso as Flo Manero
- Martin Shakar as Father Frank Manero, Jr.
- Nina Hansen as Tony's grandmother
- Lisa Peluso as Linda Manero
- Sam Coppola as Dan Fusco
- Denny Dillon as Doreen
- Bert Michaels as Pete
- Robert Costanzo as Paint store customer
- Robert Weil as Becker
- Shelly Batt as the girl who kisses Tony on the dance floor, as 'Al Pacino'
- Fran Drescher as Connie
- Donald Gantry as Jay Langhart
- Ann Travolta as Pizza girl
- Helen Travolta as Lady in paint store (Travolta's mother)
- Monti Rock III as The deejay
- Beth Glick as the dance floor operator in the deejay booth (uncredited)
- Adrienne King as Dancer (uncredited)
Donna Pescow was almost considered 'too pretty' for the role of Annette. She corrected this by putting on 40 pounds (18 kilograms) and training herself back to her native Brooklyn accent, which she trained herself away from while she was studying drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After production ended, she immediately lost the weight she gained for the role and dropped the accent.
John Travolta's mother Helen and sister Ann both appeared in minor roles in this movie. Travolta's sister is the pizzeria waitress who serves him the pizza slices, and his mother is the woman he sells the can of paint to early in the film.
John G. Avildsen was signed to direct but was fired three weeks prior to principal photography over a script dispute with producer Robert Stigwood. Despite this, one reference to Avildsen directing remains in the final film - John Travolta's character has a Rocky poster in his room (the first film in that series was directed by Avildsen.)
Filming locations 
- Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
- Basketball courts located along the Parkway near the Marine Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. The Verrazano Bridge west bound approach runs above the park containing the courts.
- Bench vista toward the Verrazano Bridge, located along the Shore Promenade in Shore Road Park, Brooklyn, NY. Accessible to pedestrians via the Shore Road and 4th Avenue footpath park entrance. Accessible to motorists via the parking area alongside the Belt Parkway, east bound just 450 feet prior to Exit 2, 4th Avenue/Ft Hamilton Pkwy, and approximately 600 to 800 feet from passing underneath the bridge.
- White Castle fast food restaurant, located at 92nd Street and 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY.
- Phillips Dance Studio, West 7th Street and Bay Parkway.
- 2001 Odyssey, which was later renamed Spectrum (a gay club) in 1987 before being demolished in 2005. The club was located at 802 64th Street, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York.
- Six Brothers Hardware and Paints formerly located at 7309 5th Avenue in Brooklyn was the backdrop for Tony's workplace.
- Grand Union supermarket on 5th Avenue, today a Staples store located at 9319 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, NY.
- A coffee shop across the street from the Grand Union, now Giuffre FIAT located on the north side of 94th Street between 4th Avenue and 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, NY.
- Lenny's Pizza, 1969 86th Street (near 20th Avenue)
- Track listing
- "Stayin' Alive" performed by Bee Gees - 4:45
- "How Deep Is Your Love" performed by Bee Gees - 4:05
- "Night Fever" performed by Bee Gees - 3:33
- "More Than a Woman" performed by Bee Gees - 3:17
- "If I Can't Have You" performed by Yvonne Elliman - 3:00
- "A Fifth of Beethoven" performed by Walter Murphy - 3:03
- "More Than a Woman" performed by Tavares - 3:17
- "Manhattan Skyline" performed by David Shire - 4:44
- "Calypso Breakdown" performed by Ralph MacDonald - 7:50
- "Night on Disco Mountain" performed by David Shire - 5:12
- "Open Sesame" performed by Kool & the Gang - 4:01
- "Jive Talkin'" performed by Bee Gees - 3:43 (*)
- "You Should Be Dancing" performed by Bee Gees - 4:14
- "Boogie Shoes" performed by KC and the Sunshine Band - 2:17
- "Salsation" performed by David Shire - 3:50
- "K-Jee" performed by MFSB - 4:13
- "Disco Inferno" performed by Trammps - 10:51
(*) "Jive Talkin'" was not contained in the film.
- The novelty songs "Dr. Disco" and "Disco Duck", both performed by Rick Dees, were played in the film but not included on the album.
According to the DVD commentary for this movie, the producers intended to use the song "Lowdown" by Boz Scaggs for use in the rehearsal scene between Tony and Annette in the dance studio, and choreographed their dance moves to the song. However, representatives for Scaggs' label, Columbia Records, refused to grant legal clearance for it, as they wanted to pursue another disco movie project, which never materialized. Composer David Shire, who scored the film, had to in turn write a song to match the dance steps demonstrated in the scene and eliminate the need for future legal hassles. However, this track does not appear on the movie's soundtrack.
The song "K-Jee" was used during the dance contest with the Hispanic couple that competed against Tony and Stephanie. Some VHS cassettes used a more traditional Latin-style song instead. The DVD restores the original recording.
Critical response 
Saturday Night Fever is regarded by many critics as one of the best films of 1977. The film currently holds a 90% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. It also holds a score of 77/100 (mostly favorable) on a similar review website Metacritic. It was eventually added to The New York Times "Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made," which was published in 2004.
Film critic Gene Siskel, who listed this as one of his favorite movies, praised the film: "One minute into Saturday Night Fever you know this picture is onto something, that it knows what it's talking about." He also praised John Travolta's energetic performance: "Travolta on the dance floor is like a peacock on amphetamines. He struts like crazy." Siskel even bought the famous white suit Travolta wore at a charity auction.
Film critic Pauline Kael, wrote a gushing review of the film in The New Yorker: "The way Saturday Night Fever has been directed and shot, we feel the languorous pull of the discotheque, and the gaudiness is transformed. These are among the most hypnotically beautiful pop dance scenes ever filmed...Travolta gets so far inside the role he seems incapable of a false note; even the Brooklyn accent sounds unerring...At its best, though, Saturday Night Fever gets at something deeply romantic: the need to move, to dance, and the need to be who you'd like to be. Nirvana is the dance; when the music stops, you return to being ordinary."
Awards and nominations 
- National Board of Review Award for Best Actor - John Travolta
- Golden Screen, Germany
- Academy Award for Best Actor - John Travolta
- BAFTA Award for Best Film Music - Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb
- BAFTA Award for Best Sound - Michael Colgan, Robert W. Glass Jr., Les Lazarowitz, John T. Reitz, John Wilkinson
- Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
- Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Musical or Comedy – John Travolta
- Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score - Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb, David Shire
- Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song - Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb and Robin Gibb for the song "How Deep Is Your Love?"
- Writers Guild Award for Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen - Norman Wexler
American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
- Stayin' Alive - #9
- More Than a Woman - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - Nominated
John Belushi parodied the film as "Samurai Night Fever", one of his "Samurai" sketches on Saturday Night Live. Belushi spoofed it again in the film Neighbors, during a scene in which tilted camera angles show Belushi combing his hair in front of the mirror as "Stayin' Alive" plays in the background. Ironically, the oft-repeated phrase in the movie, "Can you dig it? I knew that you could," had been made famous on Saturday Night Live during a stand-up performance by Billy Crystal.
The Children's Television Workshop published a record album of music from Sesame Street under the title Sesame Street Fever, the cover of which spoofed the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album cover, with muppet Grover wearing the white three-piece disco suit in the famous Travolta pose and Bert, Ernie, and Cookie Monster taking the place of the Bee Gees. Robin Gibb (of the Bee Gees) sings on two tracks for this album, "Sesame Street Fever" and "Trash", and has a dialogue with Cookie Monster on the intro for "C Is For Cookie."
The 1980 film Airplane! contained a parody scene, with Robert Hays mocking the famous pose and the clothing shown on the poster and album cover, to the tune of "Stayin' Alive" slightly sped up (the actual song used for that scene in Saturday Night Fever was "You Should Be Dancing").
In the 1985 film Teen Wolf, there is a scene in which Michael J. Fox's character as the wolf is getting ready for a school dance by standing in front of a bathroom mirror blow-drying his hair a la John Travolta as Tony Manero.
On the political comedy series Spin City which also starred Fox, Paul Lassiter played by Richard Kind is walking the hallways of City Hall is walking with Stayin' Alive playing in the background in the first season episode "Gabby's Song" after spending the night with his girlfriend Claudia portrayed by Faith Prince.
In the film Look Who's Talking (1989), the opening of "Staying Alive" is heard as Mikey, in the stroller, hits the street being wheeled by James (played by John Travolta).
In season 6, episode 7 of The Simpsons, Jessica Lovejoy (Meryl Streep) invites Bart for dinner, upon which he says, "There's only one thing to do at a moment like this: strut!". Bart then struts to "Stayin' Alive" in the same manner as Travolta's character at the end of the sequel Staying Alive.
In 1998, Singaporean filmmaker Glen Goei made Forever Fever (That's the Way I Like It). Set in Singapore during the 1970s, the film starred Adrian Pang as the Tony Manero character who eventually develops a liking for disco dancing. The movie also used cover versions of songs from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
On June 25, 2002, in an episode of Son of the Beach, David Arquette guest-starred as Johnny Queefer in a send-off episode entitled "Saturday Night Queefer", which also included parodies of the Bee Gees songs sung by a quartet of guys breathing helium balloons to get the high voices like the Gibb brothers.
In 2011, British comedian John Bishop includes a tribute to Saturday Night Fever at the end of his performance on his latest Sunshine stand-up tour. His finale whilst playing in theaters, he included a video of him re-enacting the opening scene and dancing at the discothèque however, whilst performing at arenas, he showed extracts of the video and the section where he is supposed to dance at the disco, he emerges on stage with a troupe of dancers and performs the dance routine like John Travolta.
In the 2005 film Madagascar, when Marty the Zebra escaped the zoo and walks on the streets of Manhattan, the camera displays a similar fashion of the intro of Saturday Night Fever, even the song "Stayin' Alive" was played in the background.
Blu-ray release 
On May 5, 2009, Paramount released Saturday Night Fever on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 aspect ratio.
- imdb, Kevin McCormick
- Loftis, Ryan (December 12, 2012), Saturday Night Fever Turns 35. Suite101. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
- "Box Office Information for Saturday Night Fever". The Numbers. Retrieved May 7, 2013.
- Bee Gees' Maurice Gibb dies. USA Today (January 12, 2003).
- Leduff, Charlie (June 9, 1996). "Saturday Night Fever: The Life". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- Saturday Night Fever: The Life by Charlie LeDuff, New York Times. June 9, 1996
- Gold, Aaron (1979-03-27). "Tower Ticker". Chicago Tribune. pp. A7.
- "Gene Siskel's Top Ten Lists 1969-1998". Alumnus.caltech.edu. February 20, 1999. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
- "Greatest Films of 1977: "melodramatic, out-dated blockbuster"". Filmsite.org. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
- MaryAnn Johanson (May 25, 2007). "The 10 Best Movies of 1977 - Movies". Film.com. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
- "The Best Movies of 1977 by Rank". Films101.com. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
- "Saturday Night Fever Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
- EvanW. "Saturday Night Fever Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic.com. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
- "The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made". The New York Times. April 29, 2003. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- Gene Siskel, The Chicago Tribune, December 16, 1977
- "Saturday Night Fever (1977)". Chicago Sun-Times.
- http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/293246. Text "293250/Critics-Corner-Saturday-Night-Fever.html" ignored (help); Missing or empty
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Saturday Night Fever|
- Saturday Night Fever at the Internet Movie Database
- Saturday Night Fever at the TCM Movie Database
- Saturday Night Fever at AllRovi
- Saturday Night Fever at Rotten Tomatoes
- Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night The NY Magazine article by Nik Cohn that inspired the film
- Article on the 30th anniversary of the film
- Article on the re-mastered 30th Anniversary DVD by writer John Reed