Anthony's Film Review
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
In this musical drama, John Travolta shines as both an actor and dancer...
Saturday Night Fever is one of those movies that easily deserves to be in a time capsule of classic films because of its memorable representation of a specific era and subculture of American life. In this case, the 1970s world of sex, drugs, and disco in Brooklyn. This movie certainly stands out when you consider that there haven't been too many other films about the disco culture. When you think of 70s disco films, Saturday Night Fever is pretty much the only title that comes to mind.
The film also benefits from its star. John Travolta stars as Tony Manero, a 19-year-old Brooklyn man who lives with his family, receives no love from his parents who favor Tony's priest brother, and has a low-wage job at a hardware store. His only outlet to relieve stress and feel good is his passion for dancing, which he and his friends do every Saturday night at a local disco called the 2001 Odyssey. Basically, the film goes back and forth between a drama film and a dance film, and thankfully, Travolta is right at home either way.
To a certain extent, there's not much of a plot in Saturday Night Fever, because the movie is really more about portraying a man's life as it happens. Tony woos the ladies at the disco and also responds to those who approach him first, including one named Annette (Donna Pescow). He also wants to win an upcoming dance competition at the 2001 Odyssey. After practicing his dance moves with Annette for a bit, he leaves her to partner up with a prettier woman named Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney), who is also older and more sophisticated. Despite their differences, the two manage to connect as dance partners and even as friends.
When it comes to the music and dance scenes, I can easily say one thing about them: they take your breath away. When Tony is doing his thing on the dance floor, you can't help but be mesmerized by how good he is. The various disco songs also help because they're catchy and fit nicely into the scenes. Overall, I could care less if these dance scenes occupied part of the movie or the entire movie. They're worth seeing just because the dancing is just artful and pleasing to the eye.
Through it all, Tony stands out as an interesting character. He's an imperfect young guy who may lose his temper, chew food with his mouth open, and even have sex in the backseat of a car parked outside the disco. At the same time, he is someone who wants meaning in his life, and the only thing that defines him and may lead him somewhere is his dancing. That's why we root for him to win the dance contest. While he doesn't undergo a major transformation, he eventually makes enough of a change in his life to at least begin a journey to better things.
Saturday Night Fever could have fallen into the trap of being in two genres but failing to deliver in one of them. Fortunately, that's not the case. The film is equally engaging as a drama film and a dance film, and the two parts fit together nicely. The result is one seamless picture, not two alternating pictures, especially as John Travolta holds it all together. It's enough to inspire you to put on a white leisure suit, get on the dance floor, and show off your moves to disco tunes, like "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees.
For more information about Saturday Night Fever, visit the Internet Movie Database.