Saturday Night Fever
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Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 American dance film directed by John Badman and starring John Travolta as Tony Manero, a young man whose weekends are spent visiting a local Brooklyn discotheque; 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 late 1990s, Cohn acknowledged that the article had been fabricated. 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 slated to be preserved for all time in their National Film Registry.
The sequel Staying Alive (1983) also starred John Travolta and was directed by Sylvester Stallone.