Saturday Night Fever Screen 84 of 11 reviews

Saturday Night Fever

1977

Saturday Night Fever Poster
  • It oscillates between a view of Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood as a version of hell on earth whose residents devote all their waking hours to humiliating one another and the heavenly, utopian lift and glory of dancing at one of its discotheques called 2001 Odyssey. Most people who fondly remember this movie are likely to focus on the latter and think less about the former, but it’s the relation between these two registers that gives the movie its energy.

  • The fortieth anniversary of its release is a chance to revisit not only its scorching soundtrack (the Bee Gees, Yvonne Elliman, Tavares, The Trammps, K.C. and the Sunshine Band) but some of its features which have, arguably, been overlooked by commentators hooked on the disco-ball glitz of its externals. From the opening sequence of SNF, where the roar of a train segues into the Bee Gees’ rendition of ‘Stayin’ Alive’, we’re into a fast-moving film which never lets up in intensity

  • You _should_ be dancing. “Saturday Night Fever” staggers beneath its melodramatic subplots, but thanks to the percolating score the whole movie feels choreographed. And when Mr. Travolta takes to the 2001 dance floor, he lifts the movie — according to “The Hollywood Reporter Book of Box Office Hits,” the third top-grossing picture of 1977, behind “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters” — into the stratosphere.

  • As Tony Manero, the peacocking nineteen-year-old prince of Bay Ridge in Saturday Night Fever, Travolta remains one of the most intriguingly irreconcilable icons of the Seventies. His intro, no matter how many times you may have seen the film, still thrills.

  • I wrote a Scenic Routes column on the latter scene a while back, and those thoughts ably reflect my feelings about the movie as a whole, in terms of both its electrifying formal aspects (Badham's navigation of the 2001 Odyssey is virtuosic; what happened to that guy?) and the way it integrates darker material with the escapism.

  • The movie is of course a musical drama, the story of Tony Manero, the teenage dancing king of Bay Ridge. And of course it turned John Travolta into a movie star, with one of the most exhilarating dance performances since the heyday of Fred Astaire.

  • John Travolta gives what can only be called a one-of-a-kind performance. NOBODY ELSE could do that part. And even if somebody else COULD, Travolta makes you believe that nobody else could, and it’s a great performance because of that. Never mind the fact that John Travolta is an incredible dancer. Never mind the fact that the film captures a moment in time, a “tipping point” if you will – the “moment before” disco took over the world.

  • John Travolta found the escape hatch from Welcome Back, Kotter with this 1977 update of Rebel Without a Cause; he acquits himself honorably as a teenager dead-ended in Brooklyn who finds his only chance to shine at the local disco. Director John Badham, a refugee from TV movies, gets a firm grip on a slippery Norman Wexler screenplay and turns up some unusual New York locations. A small, solid film, made with craft if not resonance.

  • Behind the music, Saturday Night Fever is more or less a chip off of Rocky‘s block, with a more heroic spin on the he-lost-but-he-really-won ending, but a far less earned stab at social betterment... In the end, Tony’s social yearnings are actually a whole lot closer to the mark of disco’s true cultural underpinnings. Saturday Night Fever‘s heart is actually in the right place. It’s ears, though? That’s another story.

  • As Tony the disco champ, Travolta is sufficient reason for bringing the story to the screen. Even the character inconsistencies—and he ranges like six characters in search of an identity: from moron to genius, from preening peacock to sensitive lover—provide a built-in audition for this enormously gifted actors. The disco scenes are electrifying... But instead of reaching a feverish intensity as the film wears on, the pace falls off.

  • On the one hand, I am tired of the campy, thumb-sucking optimism of Rocky, Star Wars, and Close Encounters. On the other hand, the facile cynicism and self-pity of Saturday Night Fever is not the answer, either. Badham and Wexler may have miscalculated, as Scorsese did in New York, New York, by darkening the wrong genre.

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