John Travolta stars in this 1970s drama about a young man who dreams of a better life. Tony (Travolta) is a Brooklyn roughneck stuck in a dead-end job as a salesman in a paint shop. He lives for Saturday night down at the disco where his stylish dancing has made him something of a local hero. But Tony wants more than his small world can offer. Through the influence of his more sophisticated dance partner Stephanie (Karen Gorney) and his brother, a disillusioned priest, Tony starts to question the possibilities for change. The soundtrack is provided by pop group The Bee Gees.
The years have endowed Saturday Night Fever
with a powerful, elegiac quality since its explosive release in 1977. It was the must-see movie for a whole generation of adolescents, sparking controversy for rough language and clumsily realistic sex scenes which took teen cinema irrevocably into a new age. And of course, it revived the career of the Bee Gees to stratospheric heights, thanks to a justifiably legendary soundtrack which now embodies the disco age. But Saturday Night Fever
was always more than a disco movie. Tony Manero is an Italian youth from Brooklyn straining at the leash to escape a life defined by his family, blue collar job and his gang. Disco provides the medium for him to break free.
It was the snake-hipped dance routines which made John Travolta an immediate sex symbol. But seen today, his performance as Tony is compelling: rough-hewn, certainly, but complex and true, anticipating the fine screen actor he would be recognised as 20 years later. Scenes of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge, representing Tony's route to a bigger world, now have an added poignancy, adding to Saturday Night Fever's evocative power. It's a bittersweet classic.
On the DVD: Saturday Night Fever is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack, both of which help to recapture the unique atmosphere of the late 1970s. The main extra is a director's commentary from John Badham, with detailed descriptions of casting and the improvisation behind many of the scenes, plus the unsavoury reality behind Travolta's iconic white disco suit. --Piers Ford
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