Taglines: Where do you go when the record is over.
Nineteen-year-old Brooklyn native Tony Manero lives for Saturday nights at the local disco, where he’s king of the club, thanks to his stylish moves on the dance floor. But outside of the club, things don’t look so rosy. At home, Tony fights constantly with his father and has to compete with his family’s starry-eyed view of his older brother, a priest. Nor can he find satisfaction at his dead-end job at a small paint store.
However, things begin to change when he spies Stephanie Mangano in the disco and starts training with her for the club’s dance competition. Stephanie dreams of the world beyond Brooklyn, and her plans to move to Manhattan just over the bridge soon change Tony’s life forever.
Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 American dance film directed by John Badham and starring John Travolta as Tony Manero, a young man whose weekends are spent visiting a local Brooklyn discotheque; Karen Lynn Gorney as Stephanie Mangano, his dance partner and eventual friend; and Donna Pescow as Annette, Tony’s former dance partner and would-be 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 film 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 one of the best-selling soundtracks 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 mid-1990s, Cohn acknowledged that he fabricated the article. 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; instead, the character who became Tony Manero was based on a Mod acquaintance of Cohn’s. In 2010, Saturday Night Fever was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthecially significant” by the Library of Congress and therefore preserved for all time in their National Film Registry. The sequel Staying Alive (1983) also starred John Travolta and was directed by Sylvester Stallone.
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Directed by: John Badham
Starring: John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, Barry Miller, Joseph Cali, Donna Pescow, Paul Pape, Julie Bovasso, Sam Coppola, Fran Drescher
Screenplay by: Norman Wexler
Production Design by: Charles Bailey
Cinematography by: Ralf D. Bode
Film Editing by: David Rawlins
Costume Design by: Patrizia von Brandenstein
Set Decoration by: George DeTitta Sr.
Music by: Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: December 14, 1977