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Saturday Night Fever(1977)
Tony is an uneducated Brooklyn teenager. The highlight of his week is going to the local disco, where he is the king of the dancefloor. Tony meets Stephanie at the disco and they agree to dance together in a competition. Stephanie resists Tony's attempts to romance her, as she aspires to greater things; she is moving across the river to Manhattan. Gradually, Tony also becomes disillusioned with the life he is leading and he and Stephanie decide to help one another to start afresh.
For more about Saturday Night Fever and the Saturday Night Fever Blu-ray release, see Saturday Night Fever Blu-ray Review published by Sir Terrence on May 8, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: John Badham
Writer: Norman Wexler
Starring: John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, Barry Miller (I), Joseph Cali, Paul Pape, Donna Pescow
» See full cast & crew
Saturday Night Fever Blu-ray Review
Stephanie: "Nice move. Did you make that up?" Tony: "Yeah, well I saw it on TV first, then I made it up."
Reviewed by Sir Terrence, May 8, 2009
I always thought that Saturday Night Fever was corny as heck as a movie. I thought that the most iconic image of the movie (Travolta with his arm pointed at a 45 degree angle with a lot of gold chains and white three piece leisure suit) was the most corny and uncool things about the picture. I never wore Angel Flights pants, bell bottoms, or any other symbolic 70's clothing as I was probably too young to do so, or appreciate the fashion of that era. Being from New York City, my images of that era focused around studio 54, all its excesses, its popularity, and star studded cliques that I just could not relate to. To me, Tony Manero was a loser adorn in gold chains (not uncommon for that era) and a cheap polyester suit, going nowhere, not wanted or striving for anything. It is just this perceive weakness that makes this movie strong and interesting. Considering that this was pre- AIDS, where it was cool to dance and party all night, wake up not knowing where you are or what you did; or whom you were with. Many embraced this lifestyle, which explains the popularity of this film. Audiences of that period can relate to the euphoric escapism that disco seemed to offer. However my experience of that period and of Brooklyn itself seems to have a slight disconnect. Nobody I knew in Brooklyn thought that this film was even remotely cool, or a realistic view of that period in that location. They viewed the film as campy and made up by a group of elite that did not represent them at all. Many believed that this flick was made to capitalize on the popularity of disco music and the disco lifestyle, and nothing more than that. It would be only a few years after the films release that the key scenes of this movie would be mocked and parodied endless much to the dismay of disco lovers.
Starring 22 year old John Travolta whose popularity rested on a four year stint as Vinnie Barbarino in Welcome Back Kotter, Travolta shows off his dancing skills to the hilt in this flick. His moves and look spawned a fashion and dancing craze that lasted for years after the film closed in theaters world wide. White leisure suits and polyester based clothes enjoyed popularity for years as well. What I liked about this movie is its frank honesty in the portrayal of characters of that period off the dance floor. Tony and his pals are casual but flagrant racists and misogynist, who smoke too much and do drugs on the side. It is this juxtaposition to the dancing that makes this movie an interesting watch. These guys were doing the things that were actually done back in that day, which makes guys like me relate even if I did not do them myself. You would never see this lifestyle portrayed on television, or any other mainstream source. As a New Yorker, you knew it was there, even if not widespread. This movie is definitely worth the watch, even if you want to make fun of it, or cannot relate to it personally.
Tony (John Travolta) is an ambitionless 19 year old man working in a paint store and going nowhere. Tony life at home is suffocating, and he dreads a life of selling paint. He is uneducated, unpolished, and uncultured but he can dance. He chases women, is a thoughtful and kind brother, is trusting, kind hearted, and thinks fast on his feet. Tony's mother blames him for Frank Jr. leaving the priest hood; his father criticizes him about his dead-beat life. What drives Tony is not his career, but spending Friday and Saturday nights partying and dancing at the 2001 Odyssey. Tony is king of the dance floor at the Odyssey which is why he looks forward to being there each week. Tony has many problems in his daily life that seem never ending to him. Things change dramatically as Tony falls for talented dancer Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney) who is years older than he is. She thinks that he is "cliché", and will derail her ambitions to move from Brooklyn to Manhattan. She does not want Tony's lack of ambition to kill her dreams, so she wants nothing to do with him. Annette (Donna Pescow) is in love with Tony, but he treats her like dirt, and she becomes self destructive as a result. As if Tony did not have enough on his plate, a friend Bobby C. (Barry Miller) comes to Tony for help after he gets a girl pregnant. However Tony is just too pre-occupied to deal with Bobby's problem. There is a dance contest coming up, and Tony persuades Stephanie to partner with him in the contest. As they rehearse, their true feelings began to grow and it becomes increasing difficult to hide them. After an earlier gang brawl involving Gus, Tony and his gang retaliate but tragedy befalls the gang. Tony feels totally responsible for what happened. The closer that the contest gets, the more Tony begins to examine his life and where it is headed. He realizes that he wants more in life, and comes to understand what is truly important.
Saturday Night Fever Blu-ray, Video Quality
Saturday Night Fever dances onto the Blu-ray format in a 1080p/AVC encode, framed in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio. I was completely taken by surprise at how good this 31 year old flick looks. I have seen this movie in so many incarnations, on television, DVD, and even at the theater in its 20th anniversary presentation, and it never looked this good. This is truly a 70's flick complete with diffusion filters, soft light, and dull colors. Filmed in spherical Panavision the source is clean, dirt and blemish free, with grain that is well managed and never obtrusive. Colors are well balanced with well saturated primaries and no bleeding. Flesh tones are realistic, have excellent texture, and without the push toward too much red. Detail is excellent in facial features and clothing, and close ups are particularly impressive. Wide angle shots are variable in the level of detail rendered, but they are always clean and clear. I found the details in interior shots of the club to be fuzzy in the background, but clean and clear in the foreground. I would attribute that to the low lighting and the diffusive filtering applied to the images. Blacks are noise free and deep without being crushed. Contrast is excellent which helps colors pop during bright scenes. The movie looks very good for its age, and Paramount should be congratulated for their fine work on this film.
Saturday Night Fever Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround at a 24/48 kHz bit and sample rate, Saturday Night Fever sounds impressive for a 70's movie production. The music really benefits from this encoding as the Bee Gee's music sounds terrific, and really sparkles in remixed 5.1 surround sound. It has more midrange weight, high frequency detail, and clean punchy low bass than I have heard in past releases. I found dynamics to be a bit constrained, dialog a bit canned and lacking weight, but always intelligible. The sound field opens up during the musical numbers, as they benefit from the use of the surround channels. The frontal soundstage has good lateral separation and excellent clarity. To be fair, this is a 70's sound track, and it will never sound as good as sound track recently mixed. Overall I thought this sound track sounded pretty darn good for its age.
Saturday Night Fever Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Commentary by Director John Badham
Pop-up trivia - 70's Discopedia is a pop of track that is fun and easy to watch.
Documentary: Catching the Fever (HD 75 minutes total running time) is broken down in the following segments:
A 30 year legacy (15 minutes)
Making soundtrack history (12 minutes)
Platforms and polyester (10 minutes)
Deejays and disc (10 minutes)
Spotlight on Travolta (3 minutes)
(HD) Featurette: Back to Bay Ridge (9 minutes) hosted by Joe Cali
(HD) Featurette: Dance like Travolta and John Cassese (9 minutes)
(HD) Featurette: Fever challenge – Interactive feature
Deleted scenes feature three deleted scenes with commentary by John Badham.
Saturday Night Fever Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I always thought Saturday Night Fever was a corny movie, even when I was a kid. I thought disco was cliché, disco fashion horrific, and Travolta's dance moves so staged they looked weird. I didn't know anyone who would go to a dance club and break out with moves like his. However I do like the music of the Bee Gee's, which is why I have watched this movie over and over again. I liked what took place off the dance floor, as it looked real and credible for the place and time it portrays. This film looks and sounds incredible on this Blu-ray disc, better than I have ever seen and heard it before. Despite the fact this video presentation has already been released on DVD, I highly recommend getting this Blu-ray release, and ditching the DVD altogether. It is a better representation of this film, and can truly be called a "definitive" release.
Saturday Night Fever: Other Editions
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