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Saturday Night Fever

US movie poster for Saturday Night Fever
Directed by John Badham
Produced by Robert Stigwood
Written by Nik Cohn (magazine article)
Norman Wexler
Starring John Travolta
Karen Lynn Gorney
Barry Miller
Paul Pape
Donna Pescow
Bruce Ornstein
Martin Shakar
Julie Bovasso
Fran Drescher
Val Bisoglio
Denny Dillon
Robert Costanzo
Music by Barry Gibb
Maurice Gibb
Robin Gibb
David Shire
Cinematography Ralf D. Bode
Editing by David Rawlins
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) December 14, 1977
March 1978 (PG Version)
Running time 119 min.
113 min. (PG Version)
Country United States
Language English
Gross revenue $237,113,184[1]
Followed by Staying Alive

Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 film starring John Travolta as Tony Manero, an immature young man whose weekends are spent visiting a local Brooklyn discothèque; Karen Lynn Gorney is his dance partner and eventual 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 movie 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 the best selling soundtrack 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.[2] 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. The characters who became Tony Manero and his friends were based on Mods,[3] an English youth movement that also placed great importance on music, clothes and dancing.

Contents

Plot

A coming-of-age tale set contemporaneously in 1977 about 19-year-old Tony Manero (John Travolta), a skirt-chasing Italian American from (and possessing the heavy accent of) the New York City community of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. Tony lives at home and works at a dead-end job in a small hardware store. He lives paycheck to paycheck and often finds himself short on the weekends. But he rules the dance floor on Saturday nights with his frequent appearances at 2001 Odyssey, a local disco.

Tony is surrounded by three close friends, Joey (Joseph Cali); Double J (Paul Pape); and the diminutive Bobby C. (Barry Miller), the only one of them who is still in high school. Presumably the younger Bobby C. is part of the group because he is the only one with a car (a run-down 1964 Chevrolet Impala). An informal member of their group is Annette (Donna Pescow), a chubby neighborhood girl who has been Tony's partner in previous dance competitions and longs for a more permanent relationship with him. They officially dated once, but Tony was unsatisfied by the date because Annette spoke only of her three married sisters.

Knowing Annette has the right moves to win an upcoming dance competition, Tony agrees to be her partner when she recruits him for the contest, much to Annette's delight. Her happiness is short-lived, however, when Tony abruptly terminates their partnership after seeing Stephanie Mangano (Karen Lynn Gorney) dance at the disco and later at a neighborhood dance studio. Stephanie is a tall, attractive, talented dancer and Tony believes she could help him win the competition. Despite her initial frosty and undeservedly superior attitude toward Tony, and after much urging, Stephanie agrees to partner with him in the contest, but not otherwise.

Stephanie works as a secretary for a magazine publisher in Manhattan, and she is poised to move there, where she has more opportunities to work her way up. She even talks about meeting celebrities like Joe Namath and David Bowie at the offices of the magazine she works for. These discussions awaken Tony's desire to transcend his Bay Ridge, Brooklyn working-class roots, but do not overcome his reluctance to change. However, Stephanie ultimately reveals her own vulnerabilities to Tony.

The release Tony obtains through his weekend clubbing is examined through the prism of Tony's sometimes pathetic day-to-day existence, including his utterly failed relationship with his bickering parents and his lapsed relationship with Father Frank Jr., Tony's much older brother who became a Catholic priest and is clearly his parents' favorite for having been successful. Tony's mother dotes on Frank Jr., yet the particular moment of the story becomes transformative when Frank Jr. shatters his parents' dreams of what he refers to as "pious glory" by abandoning the priesthood. This may be partly because Frank Jr. no longer wishes to spend his life in celibacy, but mainly, as he obliquely explains to Tony, because he has doubts about his faith and is disillusioned with the Church.

The confidence Tony exudes because of dance also allows him to hide his demons from his friends and to be an authority figure to them. Bobby C., who looks up to Tony, asks him for advice for getting out of his relationship with his devoutly Catholic girlfriend, Pauline, who is pregnant with his child. Though Tony tells him to dump her, Bobby C. faces pressure from his family and others to marry her, which he clearly does not wish to do. After she refuses to get an abortion, Bobby asks Frank Jr. if Pope Paul VI would grant him dispensation for an abortion. Bobby's feelings of despair deepen when Frank tells him dispensation would be highly unlikely.

Double-J and Joey are Tony's more like-minded friends; macho, foul-mouthed, bigoted, chauvinistic, and with hair-trigger tempers. They engage in wild behavior including balancing themselves along the dangerous railing of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge while in varying states of drunkenness. When another member of their clique is beaten up and put in a hospital, apparently by some Puerto Rican youths, Tony, Double-J and Joey vow revenge and brawl with the Puerto Ricans in a bar frequented by the rival Barracuda gang, only finding out later that they may have targeted the wrong people.

On the evening of the dance competition at 2001 Odyssey, Tony and Stephanie finish their dance to wild applause. The last competitors, however, are a dazzling Puerto Rican couple. After seeing their spectacular performance, Tony knows that he and Stephanie have been outclassed. Nonetheless, Tony and Stephanie take the top prize, which Tony immediately dismisses (realizing they didn't deserve it), claiming the contest was rigged in his favor (because of his popularity at 2001). He grabs the trophy and prize money from Stephanie and presents them to the Puerto Rican couple (who took second) instead, telling them they deserve it.

This seems to end Tony's concerted ability to hide his rage at his situation. Tony begins his rant by accusing his friends of being phonies who will not be honest with him. Dragging Stephanie with him, he makes a crude attempt to force himself on her in the car, an effort that ends when she fights him off and escapes. He then sullenly takes off with the gang, along with a drunk and high Annette, who Joey says is going to "give everybody a piece," evidently as retribution for Tony's refusal to be with her. Double-J and Joey both take turns with Annette, but Annette starts to cry (perhaps suggesting she was a virgin prior to this incident) and to struggle as she comes down from the drugs she had been given and comes to realize she did not want to have sex with them.

They pull the car off onto the shoulder at the Verranzano Narrows Bridge once more, but this time, Bobby C., who normally stays in the car, joins them, and is attempting more dangerous stunts than Tony, Double-J, and Joey had tried on the supporting structure of the bridge. Realizing that Bobby is recklessly acting out, Tony tries to coax him off the railing. But upset at his lonely life, his situation with Pauline, and a broken promise from Tony earlier that he would call him, the needy Bobby issues a tirade at Tony's lack of care before slipping and falling to his death in the Narrows more than one hundred feet below. The friends are shocked and grief-stricken. When a detective investigating the incident asks Tony if he thinks Bobby C. committed suicide, Tony responds, "There are ways of killin' yourself without killin' yourself."

After leaving his friends behind, a distraught Tony spends the rest of the night riding the subway. He finally shows up at Stephanie's apartment in Manhattan, apologizing for his earlier bad behavior. He tells her that he plans on leaving Brooklyn and coming to Manhattan to escape from his family and friends, and what he considers to be a fake life. He also tells her that he wants to try to salvage their relationship by being friends first and see what develops from there. Recognizing Tony's honest wish to change, Stephanie takes his hand in hers, and then him into her arms in this final scene.

As with many coming-of-age tales, the crux of the story lies in the specific choices that are presented and made, but the eventuality and the nature of those critical choices are plainly foreshadowed by various plot devices.

Early on, as Tony and Stephanie feel each other out for partnering in the dance contest, their coffee-shop discussion turns to Stephanie's opportunity to see the 1968 Zefferelli film "Romeo and Juliet." This serves as a clue to the upcoming brawl between the Italian-American boys and the Puerto Ricans, an event that parallels the story line of the musical "West Side Story," a tale acknowledged by the authors to have been derived from "Romeo and Juliet" that substituted Italians and Puerto Ricans for Montagues and Capulets. The reference also foreshadows the eventual escape of the main characters from their unhappy lot: Romeo and Juliet (and their West Side counterparts, Tony and Maria), by means of death; Stephanie and Tony by means of U-Haul to Manhattan.

Later on, as Annette continues to push for Tony's physical affections, he is forced to confront her about her choices.

Tony: "Are you a nice girl or are you a cunt?" Annette: "Can't I be both?" Tony: "No. It's a decision a girl's gotta make early in life, if she's gonna be a nice girl or a cunt."

But these self-same choices will come to Tony too, and soon. He must ultimately decide if he is to continue as a nasty, predatory, womanizer, or if he will settle into a more responsible, respectable and loving creature, and thus be all grown up.

His choice seems to have been reached after that fateful subway ride, the phallic nature of trains in tunnels notwithstanding.

Even so, Tony's apparent election to live a life of conformity and obscurity and presumably mediocrity filled with middle class values presents a depressing, ambiguous finish. Eventually viewers were invited back in to Tony's life in the 1983 sequel, "Staying Alive."

Versions and sequel

Movie poster of (edited) PG version of Saturday Night Fever

Two theatrical versions of the film were released: the Original R-rated version and an edited PG-rated version. 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-edited to a PG-rated version and re-released during a second run to attract a wider audience. The R-rated version contained profanity (the word fuck was used 76 times[citation needed]), nudity, drug use and a rape scene, all of which were de-emphasised or completely removed from the PG version.

The retooled PG-rated version totaled 112 minutes, and featured some deleted content. Numerous profanity-filled scenes were replaced with alternate takes of the same scenes that substituted milder language, initially intended for the network television cut. Other PG-inappropriate scenes were simply shortened or deleted. To maintain runtime, a few deleted scenes were added (including Tony dancing with Doreen to "Disco Duck" and Tony running his finger along the cables of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge).

Both theatrical versions were released on VHS, but only the R-rated version has been released on Laserdisc and DVD. The two special edition widescreen DVD releases include some of the deleted scenes present in the PG version. The DVD also includes a director's commentary and "Behind the Music" highlights. Starting in the late 1990s VH1 and TNT started showing the original R-rated version with a TV-14 rating. The nudity and stronger profanity were edited, but the cut included some of the innuendos from the original film that were cut out of the PG version.

A December 2002 ABC network television version, based largely on the PG version, contains several minutes of outtakes normally excised from the theatrical releases. It is among the longest cuts of the film.

A blu-ray edition was released on May 5, 2009 in the United States and was released across Europe the following week.

A sequel, Staying Alive, was released in 1983. It starred John Travolta and was directed by Sylvester Stallone. (Staying Alive was rated PG; it also pre-dated the introduction of the PG-13 rating.)

Saturday Night Fever in Popular Culture

In 1985, Princess Diana sought out John Travolta for a White House Waltz.[4]

Filming staff

Cast

  • John Travolta - Tony Manero
  • Karen Lynn Gorney - Stephanie Mangano
  • Barry Miller - Bobby C.
  • Joseph Cali - Joey
  • Paul Pape - Double J.
  • Donna Pescow - Annette, a former girlfriend of Tony, still in love with him
  • Bruce Ornstein - Gus
  • Val Bisoglio - Frank Manero, Sr., Tony's father; an unemployed construction worker
  • Julie Bovasso - Flo Manero, Tony's mother
  • Martin Shakar - Father Frank Manero, Jr., Tony's brother; a Catholic priest
  • Nina Hansen - Tony's Italian grandmother
  • Lisa Peluso - Linda Manero, Tony's sister
  • Sam Coppola - Dan Fusco, paint store owner, Tony's boss
  • Denny Dillon - Doreen
  • Bert Michaels - Pete, owner of dance studio
  • Robert Costanzo - Paint store customer
  • Robert Weil - Becker
  • Shelly Batt - Girl in disco
  • Fran Drescher - Connie (Drescher's film debut)
  • Donald Gantry - Jay Langhart
  • Murray Moston - Haberdashery salesman
  • William Andrews - Detective
  • Ann Travolta - Pizza girl (Travolta's sister)
  • Helen Travolta - Lady in paint store (Travolta's mother)
  • Ellen March - Bartender
  • Monti Rock III - The deejay
  • Roy Cheverie - The wrong partner (uncredited)
  • Adrienne King - Dancer (uncredited)
  • Alberto Vasquez - Gang member (uncredited)
  • M. J. Quinn - Dancer (uncredited)
  • Joe Macera - Gang member (uncredited)
  • Grace Davies - Girl in red dress (uncredited)

Donna Pescow was almost considered 'too pretty' for the role of Annette. She corrected this by putting on 40 pounds 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.

Director

John G. Avildsen was signed to direct but was fired three weeks prior to principal photography over a script dispute with producer Robert Stigwood.

Soundtrack

Track listing:

  1. "Stayin' Alive" performed by Bee Gees - 4:45
  2. "How Deep Is Your Love" performed by Bee Gees - 4:05
  3. "Night Fever" performed by Bee Gees - 3:33
  4. "More Than a Woman" performed by Bee Gees - 3:17
  5. "If I Can't Have You" performed by Yvonne Elliman - 3:00
  6. "A Fifth of Beethoven" performed by Walter Murphy - 3:03
  7. "More Than a Woman" performed by Tavares - 3:17
  8. "Manhattan Skyline" performed by David Shire - 4:44
  9. "Calypso Breakdown" performed by Ralph MacDonald - 7:50
  10. "Night on Disco Mountain" performed by David Shire - 5:12
  11. "Open Sesame" performed by Kool & the Gang - 4:01
  12. "Jive Talkin'" performed by Bee Gees - 3:43 (*)
  13. "You Should Be Dancing" performed by Bee Gees - 4:14
  14. "Boogie Shoes" performed by KC and the Sunshine Band - 2:17
  15. "Salsation" performed by David Shire - 3:50
  16. "K-Jee" performed by MFSB - 4:13
  17. "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.

Filming locations include

  • Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
  • Phillips Dance Studio
  • 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, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York.
  • Six Brothers Hardware and Paints formerly located at 7309 5th Ave in Brooklyn was the backdrop for Tony's place of employment.
  • Grand Union supermarket on 5 Avenue, today a Staples store.
  • A coffee shop across the street from the Grand Union, today a Volkswagen dealership.

Reception

Critical Response

Saturday Night Fever received mostly positive reviews and is regarded by many as one of the best films of 1977.[5][6][7][8] The film currently holds an 89% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate review website Rotten Tomatoes.[9] It also holds a score of 77/100 (generally favorable) on a similar review website Metacritic.[10] It was eventually added to the New York Times "Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made," which was published in 2004.

Awards and Nominations

Award wins:

Award nominations:

Parodies

John Belushi parodied the film as "Samurai Night Fever", one of his "Samurai" sketches. 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.

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").

Also The Goodies parodied the film in their Saturday Night Grease episode.

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" Trash" and has a dialog with cookie monster on the into for "C Is For Cookie."

In 2000, at the Inner Circle press dinner, mayor Rudy Giuliani spoofed John Travolta by dancing to "Disco Inferno" by The Trammps. Giuliani wore a white 70s-style disco suit.

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.

Blu-ray Release

On May 5, 2009, Paramount Pictures released Saturday Night Fever on Blu-ray Disc in 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

See also

Other films of the late 1970s during the disco craze

External links

References


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 film (2010 in Beanie Island) about Tony Manero, a Brooklyn working-class youth who feels his only chance to get somewhere is as king of the disco floor.

Directed by John Badham. Written by Nik Cohn and Norman Wexler.
Why is he gay... Taglines

Contents

Tony Manero

  • Would ya just watch the hair? Ya know, I work on my hair a long time and you hit it. He hits my hair.
  • You make it with some of these chicks, they think you gotta dance with them.
  • Al Pacino! Attica! Attica! Attica!
  • If you put your dick in a spic, does it get bigger than a nigger?
  • There's ways of killing youself without killing yourself.
  • You know what, Gus? I feel like breaking your broken legs!

Others

  • Doreen: Can I wipe your forehead?
  • Bobby C.: My girlfriend, she loves the taste of communion wafers.
  • Double J.: [to a girl he just got done having sex with] What did you say your name was?
  • Frank Manero Jr.: Tony, the only way you're gotta survive is to do what you think is right, not what they keep trying to jam you with. You let 'em do that and you're gonna end up in nothing but misery!

Dialogue

Stephanie Mangano: Nice move. Did you make that up?
Tony Manero: Yeah, well, I saw on TV first, then I made it up.

Connie: So, are you as good in bed as you are on that dance floor?
Tony Manero: You know, Connie, if you're as good in bed as you are on the dance floor, then you're one lousy fuck.
Connie: Then how come they always send me flowers the next morning?
Tony Manero: I dunno. Maybe they thought you was dead.

Fusco: You can save a little, build a future.
Tony Manero: Oh fuck the future!
Fusco: No, Tony! You can't fuck the future. The future fucks you! It catches up with you and it fucks you if you ain't planned for it!
Tony Manero: Look, tonight is the future, and I am planning for it. There's this shirt I gotta buy, a beautiful shirt.

Tony Manero: I gotta have an afternoon off, and I'm takin' it.
Fusco: If you do, you're fired.
Tony Manero: I'm doin' it!
Fusco: Then you're fired!
Tony Manero: Then fuck you, asshole!

Tony Manero: She can dance, you know that? She's got the wrong partner of course, but she can dance.
Joey: So then why don't you ask her?
Tony Manero: Fuck you.
Joey: Which position?

Tony Manero: Are you a nice girl or a cunt?
Annette: Can I be both?
Tony Manero: No. It's a decision a girl's gotta make early in life, if she's gonna be a nice girl or a cunt.

Tony Manero: You know, you and I got the same last initial.
Stephanie Mangano: [sarcastically] Wow. Does that mean when we get married, I won't have to change the monogram or my luggage?

Annette: Ain't ya gonna ask me to sit down?
Tony Manero: No, 'cause you would do it.
Annette: Bet you'd ask me to lay down
Tony Manero: No, you would not do it.

Tony Manero: Why are you such a cocktease?
Stephanie Mangano: Don't you call me no godamnned cocktease!

[Tony Manero makes his way onto the dance floor at 2001 Odyssey, dancing with two girls]
Girl in Disco: Kiss me.
[Tony ignores her request]
Girl in Disco: Kiss me!
[Tony kisses her]
Girl in Disco: Ohh, I just kissed Al Pacino!

Joey: Hey, Tony, Double J's been in the car twenty five minutes with some chick!
Tony Manero: So?
Joey: So, can I get the selfish prick out!
Tony Manero: [to Annette] These guys can't do nothin' without me.

Stephanie Mangano: I'm sick of guys who ain't got their shit together.
Tony Manero: Well, all ya need is a salad bowl, and a potato masher, [mimics stirring in a bowl] and you got your shit together!

Frank Manero Sr. [commenting on Tony's four dollar raise] Four dollars? You know what four dollars buys today? It don't even buy three dollars!
Tony: I don't see no one givin' you a raise down at unemployment.
Frank Manero Sr: Four dollars? Shit!
Tony Manero: I knew you'd piss on it. Go on, just piss on it. A raise says like you're good, you know? You know how many times someone told me I was good in my life? Two! Twice! Two fuckin' times! This raise today, and dancing.. dancin' at the disco! [gets up and walks out of the room] You sure as fuck never did! Asshole!

Tony Manero: Hey, you know you assholes almost broke my pussy finger!
Gus: Oh yeah, you wouldn't know which one it was.
TONY: I know, my middle one.

Taglines

  • Where do you go when the record is over...
  • It is now rated PG. Because we want everyone to see John Travolta's performance... Because we want everyone to hear the #1 group in the country, the Bee Gees... Because we want everyone to catch "Saturday Night Fever".

Cast

Actor Role
John Travolta Tony Manero
Karen Lynn Gorney Stephanie Mangano
Barry Miller Bobby C.
Joseph Cali Joey
Donna Pescow Annette
Julie Bovasso Flo Manero
Val Bisoglio Frank Manero Sr.

See also

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 movie. It stars John Travolta as a young man named Tony Manero, who tries to escape his problem-filled life in Brooklyn by dancing at a dance club in New York City. The soundtrack (an album that has songs that were heard in the movie) of the movie was provided by The Bee Gees and many other artists and both the album and movie were very popular. There are two versions of the movie: the original R-rated version and the PG-rated version which came out a year later so the movie could be popular with younger people. A sequel called Staying Alive was released in 1983.[needs proof]

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