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And that sweet city woman,
Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 film starring John Travolta in the role that made him a superstar.
The film centers around Tony Manero, a kid from Brooklyn who likes to spend nights dancing at a local nightclub; his would-be girlfriend and dance partner Stephanie; his unrequited love interest Annette; and their various friends and cohorts.
But the film is mostly remembered for being a reflection of the disco era at its height in New York in The Seventies, and the Unconstructed Trope of the modern dance flick. Subsequently, the film sparked a national disco craze that didn't die out until the onset of The Eighties. Thus, Saturday Night Fever remains a late-Seventies period piece, such as it is.
And it's got Travolta dancing. Need I say more?
Not surprisingly, the soundtrack album to the film is one of the best selling of all time, featuring tracks from The Bee Gees, Walter Murphy, K.C. & the Sunshine Band, and others.
Was adapted as a musical for the stage in 1998, which still runs in various productions.
A sequel titled Staying Alive was released in 1983. It didn't do as well with the critics.
Saturday Night Fever provides examples of:
- Adult Child: Tony
- Anti-Hero: Some interpretations feel there's no redeemable qualities to Tony.
- Auto Erotica: Gets averted when a drunk Tony makes a pass at Stephanie in the car.
- Played straight earlier when he has sex with Annette in the backseat, but doesn't finish.
- Also, played straight with one of Tony's friends and some girl he met at the disco. They have to finish while Tony and crew watch.
- Don't forget when Tony's Jerkass friends raped Annette.
- Bowdlerization: The movie was originally rated "R" in the United States, but the studio re-released it to theaters in a "PG" version with little to no profanity, drug use, and nudity. The Other Wiki has a picture of the poster that advertised it.
- Big Applesauce: It's a very N.Y. movie, and the setting is justified because The Big Apple was one of the places where the disco culture originated.
- Brooklyn Rage: Brooklyn gang violence is mentioned and even given screen time.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Averted. When Tony and Annette have sex in the backseat before the first trip to the Bridge, he stops because she's not "fixed" and he's not wearing a condom.
- Celebrity Resemblance: In-universe. A drunken girl at the disco mistakes Tony for Al Pacino and urges him to kiss her. Lampshaded when Tony wakes up in the morning and asks himself "Do I really look like Al Pacino?"
- Country Matters: It's treated as general rule of Tony's crew that if you don't sleep with them you're a cunt, and they'll tell you so to your face.
- Dancing Is Serious Business: Quite possibly the Trope Codifier.
- Date Rape Averted: Tony tries to have his way with Stephanie, but she gets away.
- Deconstruction: The film is a deconstruction of the hedonistic culture of the 1970's. Sure, there were beautiful clothes, music, and lots of dancing, but there was a dark side to the life led by such people Tony and his friends. For example, Tony has no thought for the future (and the culture as a whole didn't either), and his friends are involved with drugs, drinking, and casual sex which does cause some problems. See also Unbuilt Trope.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Despite portraying Tony Manero's life as violent, shallow and ultimately pointless, the movie won disco millions of new fans.
- Dysfunctional Family: Just watch the dinner scene.
- Fan Girl: Tony has his fair share of these, most notably Annette, and the Hollywood Homely blonde woman that wiped his forehead after he danced.
- Also subverted because one girl begs him to kiss her, and she believes she kissed Al Pacino (even though Tony looks nothing like him).
- Feet First Introduction: This is how we meet Tony.
- Flanderization: The film is often boiled down to "that disco flick where Travolta dances to corny music and little else happens", ignoring the fact it features very mature themes and serious characterizations.
- Follow the Leader: Bobby tries to be just like Tony, who he idolizes as the epitome of coolness. It does not end well.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: John Travolta as Tony, obviously. But there's also a young Fran Drescher as Connie, whom Tony rebuffs on the dance floor.
- The mom from Even Stevens gets date-raped.
- Denny Dillon from Dream On and Saturday Night Live wants to wipe Tony's brow.
- Hollywood Pudgy: Donna Pescow (Annette) gained 30 lbs to better fit the role, as well as training herself back to her Brooklyn accent. (Immediately after the film was done, she set to work losing the extra weight and the accent.)
- I Feel Guilty You Take It: Tony and his partner win a dance competition, but he thinks another couple was better and only lost due to being Puerto Rican, so he gives them the top prize.
- Italian Mother: Tony's mother, always nagging and criticizing him, and doting on Her Son, The Priest. (Tony's older brother Frank) Who ends up leaving the priesthood for unknown reasons and becoming estranged from his family.
- Jerkass: Tony himself is quite a douchebag, but his friends are outright self-absorbed machos.
- Karma Houdini: Arguably, Tony's friends apart from Bobby C. Yes, they lose Bobby after he jumps off the bridge and Tony after he decides to move out of Bay Ridge and start over, but nothing directly happens to them.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: At least Tony's friends think so.
- Memetic Outfit: Travolta's white outfit became synonymous with disco culture and a sort of a uniform for Disco Dans worldwide.
- Mood Whiplash: The film alternates between dreamy, mesmerizing disco sequences and shallow and violent everyday life of Brooklyn youth.
- Nobody Touches the Hair: Tony.
- Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: Tony leaves behind his phony life in Brooklyn, and heads to Manhattan to start over. He even gets back together with Stephanie! Unrequited love interest Annette, meanwhile, ends up having been treated like dirt, raped, and forgotten about. And Bobby C. has accidentally jumped to his death, leaving behind his Catholic girlfriend whom he wasn't going to marry that is carrying his child. Whew.
- Rape as Drama: Annette is raped by two of Tony's friends
- Subverted, though, since her rape is more or less treated as a Big Lipped Alligator Moment. The lead character, who is sitting in the same car as it happens, decides on the spot to outright ignore the rape. The ultimate dark side of "bros before hos".
- The Red Stapler: As it says above, the film created a nationwide craze for disco music and disco dancing (together with discotheques), while before disco was mostly confined to the New York and Philadelphia gay communities. Also, Travolta's suit from the movie instantly became fashionable.
- Rock Me, Amadeus: "A Fifth of Beethoven" and "Night on Disco Mountain" are based on classical pieces by Beethoven and Mussorgsky, respectively.
- The Seventies: And how. You can't help but think of the 1970s when you see the film, and you can't help but think of the film when you remember the 1970s.
- Sex, Drugs, and Disco
- Shirtless Scene: Travolta shows his pectorals a lot.
- Shotgun Wedding: Bobby C is unhappy because he is about to be forced into one of these by his pregnant girlfriend's Catholic family and his own family.
- Shout-Out: "AL PACINO!!! AL PACINO!!! ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA!
- Star-Making Role: For Travolta, obviously. Although he'd already made a name for himself in Welcome Back, Kotter, this movie pushed him into true superstardom almost overnight and, together with Grease and Pulp Fiction, remains his most memorable performance.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: Young John Travolta as Tony Manero.
- Teen Pregnancy: Bobby C's unseen girlfriend. The focus is more on Bobby's side of the story; he doesn't want to marry her, but she refuses to get an abortion.
- There Are Two Kinds of Girls In The World: Tony's philosophy is that a girl can either be a "nice girl" or a "c**t", but not both.
- Unbuilt Trope: The movie's portrayal of disco lifestyle is decidedly unsentimental and depressing enough to be labeled as a grim Deconstruction of dance flicks and night club culture in general. The twist is that this film was the Trope Maker of the 70's disco craze.
- Unintentional Period Piece
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story. "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night", a 1975 New Yorker article. Ironically, it turns out that the article was completely fabricated.
- Walking in Rhythm: Tony, to "Stayin' Alive" at the beginning of the film. One of John Travolta's most famous movie scenes, subject to much Stock Parody.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Tony strutting down the street... oh, yeah.