And that sweet city woman, She moves through the light, Controlling my mind and my soul. When you reach out for me Yeah, and the feelin' is bright, Then I get night fever, night fever. We know how to do it.
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.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, especially since director/co-writer Sylvester Stallone also decided to heavily feature his brother Frank on the soundtrack.
Saturday Night Fever provides examples of the following tropes:
Anti-Hero: Some interpretations feel there's no redeemable qualities to Tony.
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.
Benevolent Boss: Tony's job may stink but his boss seems like a nice enough guy, giving him a raise and even rehiring him after Tony violently quits.
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?"
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 like 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 causes them many problems. See also Unbuilt Trope.
Flanderization: The film is often boiled down to "that disco flick where Travolta dances to corny music and little else happens", ignoring its very mature themes and serious characterizations. The fact that the sequel Staying Alive is Lighter and Softer (to the point that it went out with a PG rather than an R) may or may not be a factor.
The Generation Gap: Tony wants to enjoy being young and wild and free, while his parents (and, to a lesser extent, his girlfriend) encourage him to get a real job, move out, and marry a nice Italian girl.
Iconic Outfit: Travolta's white outfit became synonymous with Disco culture and a sort of a uniform for Disco Dans worldwide.
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.
I Have No Son: After Frankie leaves the priesthood, his parents are heartbroken (especially his mother), and eventually disown him.
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.
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".
Rock Me, Amadeus!: "A Fifth of Beethoven" and "Night on Disco Mountain" are based on classical pieces by Beethoven and Mussorgsky, respectively.
Second Act Breakup: Tony and Stephanie. They get back together at the end of the movie, though.
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.
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 nightclub culture in general. The twist is that this film was the Trope Maker of The Seventies' Disco craze.
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. This is revisited in the final scene of the sequel, creating Book Ends.
What the Hell, Hero?: Stephanie and Tony's friends didn't take too kindly to Tony handing over the first-place dance contest trophy to the Puerto Rican couple who took second.