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USA 1977
Directed by
John Badham
119 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Saturday Night Fever

Although Saturday Night Fever is surprisingly effective in observing the lives of 1970s Italian New Jersey working class society and the central role of disco culture in it, it is the music and dancing (that of John Travolta in particular) that made the film both a huge commercial hit and an iconic statement of the contemporary Zeitgeist.

Travolta in the film t hat made him a star is excellent at portraying Tony Manero, a young guy divided between his family and friends for whom life's horizons are a given and his belief that he deserves, and has the ability, to experience more than his circumstances would indicate.The film manages to inject what on one level is an exploitation film with a good deal of empathy for its characters achieving a movingly tragic tone in its latter stages before resolving to a conveniently but understandably optimistic ending

The classic disco score by The Bee Gees is perfectly integrated with the narrative, unlike the comparable Fame (1980) which appears so much more contrived and romanticised in comparison.

FYI: SNF was followed by an excruciatingly bad sequel, Staying Alive (1983), directed and co-written by Sylvester Stallone who reworked the Rocky zero-to-hero formula and got Travolta to bulk and oil up like someone out of a gay porno magazine. The film's crappy music was mostly by Sly's brother, Frank, and the big production number 'Satan's Alley' was rightly sub-titled 'A Musical Trip Through Hell'




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