Every decade seems to have a movie that captures perfectly the feeling and times of that era. The music, the clothes, the voice. A movie like Saturday Night Fever captured a time and place unlike many other movies do.
The 70’s was a time of party and excess. The Vietnam war came to a close, and a new genre of music rose to dizzying heights for the first time since Rock ‘N’ Roll busted through in the 50’s. So if one movie truly captured this and those who consider this time, “their generation,” what would it be? A more dramatic way to answer would be with a specific beat, but this is not an interactive blog yet, and there is no podcast, however.
Saturday Night Fever captured post-high school life without college in working-class America. The film would make a household name out of John Travolta and at the same time make him a more prominent film star than anything else could have done.
Saturday Night Fever was based on a short story out of the New Yorker magazine about a Brooklyn youth who works at a blue collar job whose life revolves around blowing off steam every Saturday night at the local discotheque where he and his friends are the real kings and most popular.
Travolta brought Tony Manero to life with what may still be his best performance on screen, with all due respect to Pulp Fiction. Manero was the leader of a group of friends who, when they enter the 2001disco are known as “the faces.” Tony is hands down the ruler of the dance floor and the taste of every woman in the club. Events unfold that lead Tony to ponder his choices in associates and lifestyle. He begins to look to the future for a life that gives him any sense of fulfillment like he feels when he’s dancing.
With a soundtrack that still may be considered at the top of the heap after all these years, Saturday Night Fever created and revived a small culture of disco lovers and made disco the most significant and hottest trend in the world. Disco lifestyle became everything that represented cool. Studio 54 would not have existed without Saturday Night Fever. It was the exact definition of a phenomenon. The polyester clothes, the perfect hair, the dance moves, everything was just so and couldn’t be replicated without it feeling cliche.
The 1970’s is a time I have only experienced through movies and television and stories of those that lived it. From all I’ve gathered and learned, Saturday Night Fever was what everyone remembers and thinks of when the 70’s are referenced. There were other cultures and fads like the rock music with bands like Skynyrd and Zeppelin and so on. But no other film captured such a period and lifestyle like Saturday Night Fever. It was a real time capsule if a movie ever made one. It was post-Vietnam life and showed how the youth was much rougher around the edges and let middle America experience how the youth was living. There was nothing sugar coated in Fever, and no subject was taboo, from drugs to suicide to rape. It was a glimpse into the youth that not everyone wanted to see.
No doubt when you hear a disco song on the radio be it K.C. and the Sunshine Band or whether it is Barry Gibb’s signature falsetto voice, images flash in your head from large afro hairstyles to bell bottoms to Tony Manero’s iconic white suit. Regardless there is no question Saturday Night Fever screams 70’s and will always be associated with the decade