Saturday Night Fever

on December 16, 1977 by BOXOFFICE Staff
Exploding on the screen, with the help of a soundtrack by the Bee Gees, is John Travolta in what should be the disco film of the decade. While the Robert Stigwood production is on the dance floor, the doings are great. Once the story intrudes, it just isn't the same; Norman Wexler's screenplay has fleshed out Nik Cohn's New York Magazine story "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night" too much. Most of the plot elements could have been eliminated in favor of more dance action. John Badham directed on location, mainly in Brooklyn's picturesque Bay Ridge section in the shadow of the Verrazano Bridge. Travolta comes off well, staying in character as an uneducated but macho dance king by sustaining a marked Brooklyn accent. Karen Lynn Gorney is good as the one girl who doesn't fall for Travolta's charms but who influences his desire to better himself. Rough language which tends to degrade women is not for Travolta's many young fans. With the main ad showing Travolta and Gorney on the dance floor already creating an indelible impression, the film looks to be a solid moneymaker. Both stars perform very impressively in the dance sequences, incidentally. In Panavision and Movielab Color, with Dolby Sound.

In Brooklyn's Bay Ridge section, John Travolta, 19, contends with a menial job at Sam P. Coppola's paint store and constant harassment from father Val Bisoglio and mother Julie Bovasso. Only on Saturday nights, when he dances at the 2001 Odyssey disco, can Travolta be his own boss. There, as king of the disco scene, he banters with disc jockey Monti Rock III and gives orders to his group of followers. He puts off girlfriend Donna Pescow, who'll do anything for him, and becomes interested in aloof Karen Lynn Gorney. Travolta and his group fight a Puerto Rican gang which they think has attacked his follower Bruce Ornstein. Travolta and Gorney team up to win a dance contest at 2001, but he knows that their Puerto Rican competition was better and only lost because of prejudice. Gorney fights off Travolta's advances and, later, follower Barry Miller falls to his death while trying to proclaim his manhood on the Verrazano Bridge. In Manhattan, Gorney agrees to help Travolta get a good job if they can just be friends.

RSO Records has the soundtrack album and Bantam Books has a paperback novelization of the screenplay. Posters, T-shirts and a Flik Wik Tote Lighter will help in the selling.

Catch the Fever...Where do you go when the record is over? Paramount 118 mins.

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