It was 35 years ago today of the release of Saturday Night Fever, a film that introduced the masses to the pulsating beat of disco music and all the attitudinal and fashion accoutrements that went with it, made a superstar out of John Travolta, and spawned a soundtrack which became one of the biggest selling records of all time.
Contemporarily, in its consistent airings on channels like VH1 Classic and TBS since the original release in the theaters, Saturday Night Fever is quite a different film than the one seen by many generations who discovered it for the first time on those cable circuits. To them mostly, they have seen a somewhat watered down version of a film that in its uncut state, remains almost brutal and unapologetic, underneath its fluffy, musical surface levels.
Saturday Night Fever is actually a film about a confused youth, one Tony Manero, (expertly portrayed by Travolta, who was nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars for his characterization), who is on a directionless path in his young teenage life (he’s only 19), experiencing growing pains at every turn, working a dead-end job in a paint store which he still handles with grace, charm and effortless congeniality, who finds solace and an emotional outlet at the local discotheque in his hometown of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, New York. At this disco, he is literally treated as King due to his dancing, which electrifies the large crowds that congregate there every Saturday night. Manero (in the original R-Rated version) is one part charismatic, enigmatic, magnetic, and gorgeous in his physicality and two parts naÃ¯ve, misogynistic, egotistical, brash, crude, and even racist. His friends are of no help to him, only enabling his bad misspent youth behavior. Upon meeting Stephanie (played by Karen Lynn Gorney), who although not that far from Tony in age, but light years ahead in terms of direction, Manero starts to slowly question the repetition of his existence and finds himself at a crossroad.