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Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 film starring John Travolta as Tony Manero, a young man, coming of age, whose weekend activities are visits to a local Brooklyn discothèque and Karen Lynn Gorney as his dance partner and eventual girlfriend. While in the disco, Tony is the king, his care-free youth and weekend dancing help him to temporarily forget the reality of his life: a dead-end job, clashes with his unsupportive and squabbling parents, racial tensions in the local community, and his associations with a gang of immature friends.

A huge commercial success, the movie significantly helped to popularize disco music around the world and made Travolta a household name. The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, featuring disco songs by the Bee Gees, is among the best selling soundtracks of all time. The film is also notable for being one of the first instances of cross-media marketing, with the tie-in soundtrack's single being used to help promote the film before its release and the film popularizing the entire soundtrack after its release.

The story is based upon a 1976 New York magazine article by Britishmarker writer Nik Cohn, "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night." In the late-1990s, Cohn acknowledged that the article had been fabricated. A newcomer to the United Statesmarker and a stranger to the disco lifestyle, Cohn was unable to make any sense of the subculture he had been assigned to write about. The characters who became Tony Manero and his friends were based on Mods, an English youth movement that also placed great importance on music, clothes and dancing. The film also showcased aspects of the music, the dancing, and the subculture surrounding the disco era: symphony-orchestrated melodies, haute-couture styles of clothing, pre AIDS sexual promiscuity, and graceful choreography.


The film is about 19-year-old Tony Manero (John Travolta), a young Italian American from the New York Citymarker borough of Brooklynmarker who works a dead-end job in a small hardware store by day, but rules the dance floor at night with his frequent appearances at 2001 Odyssey, a Brooklyn dance club.

While at 2001 Odyssey, Tony is seen in the company of his three close friends, Joey (Joseph Cali); Double J (Paul Pape); and the diminutive Bobby C. (Barry Miller), still in high school. It is presumed Bobby C., though younger, is part of the gang because he is the only one with a car (a run-down Chevrolet Impala). An informal member of their gang is Annette (Donna Pescow), a neighborhood girl who has apparently been Tony's partner in previous dance competitions and longs for a more permanent relationship with him.

Tony, knowing Annette has the right moves to win an upcoming dance competition, recruits her to participate with him in the contest, much to her delight. Her happiness is short-lived, however, when Tony abruptly terminates their partnership after seeing Stephanie Mangano (Karen Lynn Gorney) dance at the disco and later at a neighborhood dance studio. Stephanie is a tall, attractive, talented dancer with what Tony assumes is a more committed potential toward winning the competition. Despite her initial frosty and superior attitude toward Tony, after much urging, Stephanie agrees to partner with him in the contest.

Stephanie works as a secretary for a magazine publisher in Manhattanmarker; she is poised to move there, where she has more opportunities to work her way up. This awakens in Tony the need to transcend his Bay Ridge, Brooklyn working-class roots. However, Stephanie ultimately reveals her own vulnerabilities to Tony.

Also examined in the film is Tony's relationship with his family, including Frank Jr., Tony's older brother and clearly his parents' favorite. Tony's mother dotes on Frank Jr., who shatters his parents' dreams of what he refers to as "pious glory" by abandoning the priesthood. This may be partly because Frank Jr. no longer wishes to spend his life in celibacy, but mainly, as he tries to explain to Tony, because he has doubts about his faith and is disillusioned with the Church.

Bobby C., who looks up to Tony, asks him for advice for getting out of his relationship with his devoutly Catholic girlfriend, Pauline, who is pregnant with his child. Though Tony tells him to dump her, Bobby C. faces pressure from his family and others to marry her, which he clearly does not wish to do. After she refuses to get an abortion, Bobby asks Frank Jr. if Pope Paul VI would grant him dispensation for an abortion. Bobby's feelings of despair deepen when Frank tells him dispensation would be highly unlikely.

Double-J and Joey are Tony's more like-minded friends; macho, foul-mouthed, bigoted, chauvinistic, and with hair-trigger tempers. They engage in wild behavior such as balancing themselves along the dangerous railing of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridgemarker, often while in varying states of drunkenness. Another member of the gang is beaten up by some Puerto Rican youths and is put in a hospital. Tony, Double-J and Joey vow revenge and storm a Puerto Rican bar frequented by the Barracuda gang only finding out later that they were not the antagonists.

On the evening of the dance competition at 2001 Odyssey, Tony and Stephanie finish their dance to wild applause. The last competitors, however, are a dazzling Puerto Rican couple. After seeing their spectacular performance, Tony realizes that he and Stephanie have been outclassed. Nonetheless, Tony and Stephanie take the top prize, which Tony immediately dismisses (realizing they didn't deserve it), claiming the contest was rigged in his favor (because of his popularity at 2001). He grabs the trophy and prize money from Stephanie and presents them to the Puerto Rican couple (who took second) instead, telling them they deserve it.

Angry, Tony accuses his friends of being phonies who will not be honest with him. Dragging Stephanie with him, he makes a crude pass on her in the car, forcing himself on her until she fights him off and escapes. He then sullenly takes off with the gang, along with a drunk and high Annette, who Joey says is going to "give everybody a piece." Double-J and Joey both take turns with Annette, but Annette starts to cry and struggle after she comes down from the drugs she had been given and realizes she does not want to have sex with them.

They pull the car off the bridge, but this time, Bobby C., who normally stays in the car, joins them, and is attempting more dangerous stunts than Tony, Double-J, and Joey. Realizing that Bobby is acting recklessly, Tony tries to coax him off the railing. Upset at his lonely life, his situation with Pauline, and a broken promise from Tony earlier that he would call him, the needy Bobby rants at Tony's lack of care, and accidentally slips, falling to his death. The friends are shocked and grief-stricken. When a policeman called to investigate the incident asks Tony if he thinks Bobby C. committed suicide, Tony responds, "There are ways of killin' yourself without killin' yourself."

After leaving his friends behind, a distraught Tony spends the rest of the night riding the subway. He finally shows up at Stephanie's apartment, apologizing for his earlier bad behavior. He tells her that he plans on leaving Brooklyn and coming to Manhattan to escape from his family and friends, and what he considers to be a fake life. He also tells her that he wants to try to salvage their relationship by being friends first and see what develops from there. Recognizing Tony's honest wish to change, Stephanie takes his hand in hers, and then him into her arms in this final scene.

Versions and sequel

Movie poster of (edited) PG version of Saturday Night Fever
theatrical versions of the film were released: the Original R-rated version and an edited PG-rated version. The R-rated version released in 1977 represented the movie's first run, and totaled 118 minutes. After the success of the first run, in 1978 the film was re-edited to a PG-rated version and re-released during a second run to attract a wider audience. The R-rated version contained profanity (the word "fuck" was used 44 times), nudity, drug use and a rape scene. All of which were de-emphasised or completely removed from the PG version.

The retooled PG-rated version totaled 112 minutes, and featured some deleted content. Numerous profanity-filled scenes were replaced with alternate takes of the same scenes that substituted milder language, initially intended for the network television cut. Other PG-inappropriate scenes were simply shortened or deleted. To maintain runtime, a few deleted scenes were added (including Tony dancing with Doreen to "Disco Duck" and Tony running his finger along the cables of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridgemarker).

Both theatrical versions were released on VHS, but only the R-rated version has been released on Laserdisc and DVD. The two special edition widescreen DVD releases include some of the deleted scenes present in the PG version. Starting in the late 1990s VH1 and TNT started showing the original R-rated version with a TV-14 rating. The nudity and stronger profanity were edited, but the cut included some of the innuendos from the original film that were cut out of the PG version.

A December 2002 ABC network television version, based largely on the PG version, contains several minutes of outtakes normally excised from the theatrical releases. It is among the longest cuts of the film.

A blu-ray edition was released on May 5, 2009 in the United States and was released across Europe the following week.

A sequel, Staying Alive, was released in 1983. It starred John Travolta and was directed by Sylvester Stallone. (Staying Alive was rated PG; it also pre-dated the introduction of the PG-13 rating.)


In 2009, it was announced that a remake was in the works by Simon Cowell, which would star Zac Efron as Tony Manero. R&B artist Timbaland was also signed on to record The Bee Gees classics for the soundtrack.


  • John Travolta - Tony Manero
  • Karen Lynn Gorney - Stephanie Mangano
  • Barry Miller - Bobby C.
  • Joseph Cali - Joey
  • Paul Pape - Double J.
  • Donna Pescow - Annette, a former girlfriend of Tony, still in love with him
  • Bruce Ornstein - Gus
  • Val Bisoglio - Frank Manero, Sr., Tony's father; an unemployed construction worker
  • Julie Bovasso - Flo Manero, Tony's mother
  • Martin Shakar - Father Frank Manero, Jr., Tony's brother; a Catholic priest
  • Nina Hansen - Tony's Italian grandmother
  • Lisa Peluso - Linda Manero, Tony's sister
  • Sam Coppola - Dan Fusco, paint store owner, Tony's boss
  • Denny Dillon - Doreen
  • Bert Michaels - Pete, owner of dance studio
  • Robert Costanzo - Paint store customer
  • Robert Weil - Becker
  • Shelly Batt - Girl in disco
  • Fran Drescher - Connie
  • Donald Gantry - Jay Langhart
  • Murray Moston - Haberdashery salesman
  • William Andrews - Detective
  • Ann Travolta - Pizza girl (Travolta's sister)
  • Helen Travolta - Lady in paint store (Travolta's mother)
  • Ellen March - Bartender
  • Monti Rock III - The deejay
  • Roy Cheverie - The wrong partner (uncredited)
  • Adrienne King - Dancer (uncredited)
  • Alberto Vasquez - Gang member (uncredited)
  • M. J. Quinn - Dancer (uncredited)
  • Joe Macera - Gang member (uncredited)
  • Grace Davies - Girl in red dress (uncredited)


Track listing:
  1. "Stayin' Alive" performed by Bee Gees - 4:45
  2. "How Deep Is Your Love" performed by Bee Gees - 4:05
  3. "Night Fever" performed by Bee Gees - 3:33
  4. "More Than a Woman" performed by Bee Gees - 3:17
  5. "If I Can't Have You" performed by Yvonne Elliman - 3:00
  6. "A Fifth of Beethoven" performed by Walter Murphy - 3:03
  7. "More Than a Woman" performed by Tavares - 3:17
  8. "Manhattan Skyline" performed by David Shire - 4:44
  9. "Calypso Breakdown" performed by Ralph MacDonald - 7:50
  10. "Night on Disco Mountain" performed by David Shire - 5:12
  11. "Open Sesame" performed by Kool & the Gang - 4:01
  12. "Jive Talkin'" performed by Bee Gees - 3:43 (*)
  13. "You Should Be Dancing" performed by Bee Gees - 4:14
  14. "Boogie Shoes" performed by KC and the Sunshine Band - 2:17
  15. "Salsation" performed by David Shire - 3:50
  16. "K-Jee" performed by MFSB - 4:13
  17. "Disco Inferno" performed by Trammps - 10:51
(*) "Jive Talkin'" was not contained in the film.
The novelty songs "Dr. Disco" and "Disco Duck", both performed by Rick Dees, were played in the film but not included on the album.

Filming locations include

  • Verrazano-Narrows Bridgemarker
  • Phillips Dance Studio
  • 2001 Odyssey, which was later renamed Spectrum (a Gay club) in 1987 before being demolished in 2005. The club was located at 802 64th Street, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York.
  • Six Brothers Hardware and Paints formerly located at 7309 5th Ave in Brooklyn was the backdrop for Tony's place of employment.
  • Grand Union supermarket on 5 Avenue, today a Staples store.
  • A coffee shop across the street from the Grand Union, today a Volkswagen dealership.


  • Saturday Night Fever was the favorite movie of the late film critic Gene Siskel, who claimed to have seen it 17 times. He liked the movie so much, he bought the famous white disco suit (worn by Travolta in the movie) at a charity auction for $17,000.
  • Fran Drescher's film debut.
  • According to the DVD commentary for this movie, the producers intended to use the song "Lowdown" by Boz Scaggs for use in the rehearsal scene between Tony and Annette in the dance studio, and choreographed their dance moves to the song. However, representatives for Scaggs' label, Columbia Records, refused to grant legal clearance for it, as they wanted to pursue another disco movie project, which never materialized. Composer David Shire, who scored the film, had to in turn write a song to match the dance steps demonstrated in the scene and eliminate the need for future legal hassles. However, this track does not appear on the movie's soundtrack.
  • Donna Pescow was almost considered 'too pretty' for the role of Annette. She corrected this by putting on 40 pounds and training herself back to her native Brooklyn accent, which she trained herself away from while she was studying drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After production ended, she immediately lost the weight she gained for the role and dropped the accent.
  • John Travolta's mother Helen and sister Ann both appeared in minor roles in this movie.
  • Bobby's C's car is a 1964 Chevrolet Impala.
  • Madonna's video for her 2005 hit single "Hung Up" is an homage to a scene from Saturday Night Fever, when Tony first approaches Stephanie at the rehearsal studio. In the video, Madonna is wearing almost exactly the same leotard and tights set that Stephanie wears in the film, and there is wood paneling and a wooden barre much like in the rehearsal space Stephanie uses for this scene. Madonna also did a remix during the Confessions Tour in 2006, following her successful album Confessions on a Dance Floor. The remix was the instrumental of "Disco Inferno" from Saturday Night Fever mixed with Madonna's hit song "Music" from 2000. Madonna's appearance and dance moves during "Music Inferno" were similar to Travolta's in the film.
  • The song "K-Jee" was used during the dance contest with the Hispanic couple that competed against Tony and Stephanie. Some VHS cassettes used a more traditional Latin-style song instead. The DVD restores the original recording.
  • Tony Manero was the name of a real American golfer.
  • John Belushi parodied the film as "Samurai Night Fever", one of his "Samurai" sketches. Belushi spoofed it again in the film Neighbors, during a scene in which tilted camera angles show Belushi combing his hair in front of the mirror as "Stayin' Alive" plays in the background.
  • The 1980 film Airplane! contained a parody scene, with Robert Hays mocking the famous pose and the clothing shown on the poster and album cover, to the tune of "Stayin' Alive" slightly sped up (the actual song used for that scene in Saturday Night Fever was "You Should Be Dancing").
  • The Goodies parodied the film in their Saturday Night Grease episode.
  • The original working title for this film was "Saturday Night". It was changed to "Saturday Night Fever" after the producers heard the song "Night Fever."
  • In Anurag Mathur's book The Inscrutable Americans, the protagonist Gopal is inspired by the way Travolta dances and refers to Saturday Night Fever as an 'educational' movie about America.
  • John Travolta still has the pair of high-heeled shoes he wore during the opening and dance sequences of the film (as depicted in the poster). He says he sometimes takes them out of the closet, but claims he doesn't wear them.
  • This film is banned in Malaysiamarker.
  • The Children's Television Workshop published a record album of music from Sesame Street under the title Sesame Street Fever, the cover of which spoofed the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album cover, with muppet Grover wearing the white three-piece disco suit in the famous Travolta pose and Bert, Ernie, and Cookie Monster taking the place of the Bee Gees. Robin Gibb (of the Bee Gees) sings on two tracks for this album "Sesame Street Fever" Trash" and has a dialog with cookie monster on the into for "C Is For Cookie"
  • The film was one of the inspirations for the short-lived sitcom Makin' It, whose main character was a devotee of the film.
  • In the club, a woman begs to kiss Tony and gushes, "I just kissed Al Pacino!" Later, while looking at a poster of Al Pacino in the mirror, Tony comes out of his room shouting, "Atticamarker! Attica! Attica!" from the famous Al Pacino film, Dog Day Afternoon.
  • Scenes from this film were featured on the 1986 Tri-Star Pictures film Short Circuit. Johnny 5, the robotic star of the film, danced alone to You Should Be Dancing, then danced with Stephanie Speck shortly afterwards to More Than a Woman. Short Circuit is also a John Badham film.
  • The illuminated dance floor was inspired by one Badham had seen at "The Club", a private supper club in Birmingham, Alabamamarker.
  • Amy Irving auditioned for the role of Stephanie, which was later won by lesser-known soap actress Karen Lynn Gorney.
  • The first shots of Stephanie dancing are actually of a stand-in dancer and not Gorney, except for the close-ups.
  • The music video for "Dang" by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion begins with a direct reference to the opening of Saturday Night Fever as lead singer Jon Spencer is shown walking down a New York City street with a paint can in one hand, exactly as Tony does in the film.
  • In 2000, at the Inner Circle press dinner, mayor Rudy Giuliani spoofed John Travolta by dancing to "Disco Inferno" by The Trammps. Giuliani wore a white 70s-style disco suit.
  • Spanish Disco-Funk band "Fundación Tony Manero" ("Tony Manero Foundation") is named after the main character.
  • The video game Gex: Enter the Gecko has a martial-arts themed level named "Samurai Night Fever".
  • The online game Ragnarok Online will have two duet class, Wanderer (which is a dancer) and Minstrel (which is a singer), that while they are together in a duet, can use a skill called "Saturday Night Fever".
  • The debut album by avant-garde metal band Polkadot Cadaver, Purgatory Dance Party, has cover art that is a reference to the film poster.
  • Bee Gee Robin Gibb admitted to BBC News on 15 December 2007 that he has never watched this film.

Academy Awards

Award Recipient
Best Actor John Travolta

Blu-ray Release

On May 5, 2009, Paramount Pictures released Saturday Night Fever on Blu-ray Disc in 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

See also

Other films of the late 1970s during the disco craze:

External links


  1. Saturday Night Fever: The Life - New York Times
  2. Saturday Night Fever: The Life by Charlie LeDuff, New York Times. June 9, 1996
  4. Banning Borat

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