It’s finally here! The Ultimate 70s Blogathon has begun! For the next several weeks, my co-host Kim, I, and many of our fellow film bloggers will be looking at some of our favorite films from the far out 70s. Check back regularly to see some of the great picks people have made. Earlier today, Kim reviewed the science-fiction horror classic, and one of my personal favorites, Alien, as part of the blogathon’s kickoff. Now it is my turn! Let’s get started, shall we?
A Brooklyn teenager feels his only chance to succeed is as the king of the disco floor. His carefree youth and weekend dancing help him to forget the reality of his bleak life. (From IMDb)
Since I both open and close the Ultimate Decades Blogathons that I co-host, my opening entry isn’t necessarily my favorite film from the theme decade, but rather a film that is a snapshot of the decade. For me, the Ultimate 70s film is Saturday Night Fever and here’s why:
- The music. Every decade seems to have a distinct sound. In the 60s it was the rock pioneers like Elvis, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, in the 80s it was hair bands and heavy metal, and in the decade in between, disco music was all the rage. Bands like the Bee Gees, ABBA, and Chic defined the sounds of the dance floor in 70s. The Bee Gees, having great success and falling into a bit of a funk before this film’s release, created the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever, cementing the movie’s place as essential 70s.
- The dancing. To go with the music, disco clubs were popular places to hang out, dance, and hang out with others. Moves like the Hustle, the Bus Stop, and the aptly named Disco Finger could be seen all over the dance floor. John Travolta’s Tony Manero makes use of these quintessential 70s dance moves and more.
- The fashion. Like music, every decade can almost be determined by looking at the clothes and hairstyle of the time. Bellbottom pants, large-collared shirts, and uniquely patterned shirts all but scream 70s. Tony Manero and his friends are constantly wearing outfits that instantly remind you of Saturday Night Fever‘s setting.
- A young John Travolta. John Travolta was popular in the mid-1970s thanks to his role in the television series Welcome Back, Kotter. By the late 70s, he stared in the decade-defining films Saturday Night Fever and Grease before having a lackluster career in the 80s. So if you see a film with a young John Travolta, chances are you’re watching a 70s movie.
- Tony Manero’s room. Several scenes throughout the film take place within Tony Manero’s bedroom. On his walls are several posters of popular movies and actors of the time, including Rocky, Bruce Lee from Enter the Dragon, and Farrah Fawcett of the television series Charlie’s Angels. His walls are covered in that hideous wallpaper that was popular at the time and his drapes are that unique 70s floral and shade of pink.
Now, as for what I actually think of Saturday Night Fever, not too much, honestly. I wasn’t really sure what the central plot of the film was supposed to be. Was it the dance competition? Was it Tony trying to win the girl? Or one of the many other plots running through the film? I feel like it was supposed to be the dance competition but it didn’t have the dominance to make it the main focus. There were a bunch of interconnected plots that no single one seemed to specifically be what the film was supposed to be about. I guess my takeaway is that it’s an examination of what it meant to be a teenager during that time period.
It that’s its focus, then I would say it did it well. And perhaps that’s why I didn’t connect with it. I couldn’t find much to connect with Tony Manero and his friends. I didn’t agree with several of Tony’s choices or actions. Maybe I’m just too far removed from being a 70s teen.
However, I didn’t completely dislike it. I did really enjoy how the music was incorporated into the movie. In the opening scene, “Stayin’ Alive” was integrated in such a way that Tony was moving along with the beat of the song. It reminded me of the opening scene of Baby Driver, which I loved as well.
I thought Saturday Night Fever was OK 😐 I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be watching the movie for. It might just be a simple examination of teenage life in the 1970s. If that is the case, then I can’t personally find much to connect with. I appreciate that there is an audience out there for this film. Unfortunately, it’s not me.
Cast & Crew
John Badham – Director
Norman Wexler – Screenplay
The Bee Gees – Composers
John Travolta – Tony Manero
Karen Lynn Gorney – Stephanie
Barry Miller – Bobby C.
Joseph Cali – Joey
Paul Pape – Double J.
Donna Pescow – Annette
Bruce Ornstein – Gus
Julie Bovasso – Flo
Sam Coppola – Dan Fusco
Martin Shakar – Frank Jr.
Val Bisoglio – Frank Sr.
Lisa Peluso – Linda