Saturday Night Fever

I finally saw Saturday Night Fever, and was surprised to find that while the music and dancing certainly played a central role in the film, the movie was so much more about class, race, religion and sex in the 1970s than it was about the music.

For a movie to take on rape, abortion, quitting the priesthood, suicide, gang wars and racism the way this film did would still be a bold move. Frank, with whom I saw it as part of a double feature (the first film was Pulp Fiction), said he thought a movie couldn't do something like that today.

After having a couple of days to think about it, I don't entirely agree. I think a movie wouldn't do something like that today, unless it was going to tackle them in the past, the way A Bronx Tale did. Frankly, I think the major studios are chickenshit.

If you haven't seen Saturday Night Fever, or if you haven't seen it with an eye toward the political context, do so.

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2 Comments

  1. I keep forgetting how young you really are. This was a pivotal movie at the time, and Gene Siskel’s favorite movie of all time. It really was so much more than just the music, although the Bee Gees and the rest certainly killed it there as well. What helped make it more of a phenomenon is that at the time the movie came out, Travolta was also on Welcome Back Kotter as a breakout star.

    I’ve always believed if anyone wanted to really know what the mid 70’s was really like, this was the movie. Of course, Travolta went on a major role, bringing the 50’s back with Grease, then making country music cool (at least for a little while; ugh) with Urban Cowboy. Talk about timing.

  2. And the movie really did capture the disco scene, although all of us knew men that were better dancers than Travolta. (Way better…)

    I was amazed that the musical also tackled the rape. And yes, the musical came to Syracuse a few years ago. I found that part of the musical, like that part of the movie, uncomfortable. But then that was the point of SNF. Life isn’t perfect. You can’t always control what happens. But there is a place where you can feel better (the disco). There there should be a level playing field, although the movie showed that’s not always true.

    BTW Travolta’s character was similar yet different to his role in Kotter. It showed that he was willing to stretch. And it began a very successful film career. Of course, then he spoofed SNF in Pulp Fiction. And the film re-launched the Bee Gees making them relevant to a whole new audience.

    Oh..and Mitch, I liked Urban Cowboy. What’s interesting about that film is that many people didn’t know what “urban” meant, which affected negatively the number of people that saw it. If the film had been named “City Cowboy” it would have done better.

    Mitch, if you’d like to hear some good, local country music, check out Chris Taylor and the Custom Taylor Band!

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