Music Movie Club

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

by Jenoa Haymor on May.21, 2010, under Drama, Music, Romance

Director: John Badham
Country: USA
Length: USA:113 min
Languages: English, Italian
Gross: $237,113,184 (Worldwide)
IMDb: 6.60 (16896 votes)

Actors

John Travolta (Tony Manero), Karen Lynn Gorney (Stephanie), Barry Miller (Bobby C.), Joseph Cali (Joey), Paul Pape (Double J.), Donna Pescow (Annette), Bruce Ornstein (Gus), Julie Bovasso (Flo Manero), Martin Shakar (Frank Manero Jr.), Sam Coppola (Fusco), Nina Hansen (Grandmother), Lisa Peluso (Linda), Denny Dillon (Doreen), Bert Michaels (Pete), Robert Costanzo (Paint Store Customer)

Storyline

Tony is an uneducated Brooklyn teenager. The highlight of his week is going to the local disco, where he is the king of the dancefloor. Tony meets Stephanie at the disco and they agree to dance together in a competition. Stephanie resists Tony’s attempts to romance her, as she aspires to greater things; she is moving across the river to Manhattan. Gradually, Tony also becomes disillusioned with the life he is leading and he and Stephanie decide to help one another to start afresh.

Quotes

  • Tony Manero: Al Pacino! Attica! Attica! Attica!
  • Bobby C.: I have a friend. He’s a very good friend, and he got a girl pregnant. And I wanted to know: if you had to make a choice between getting an abortion and having to get married, what would you do?
    Stephanie: Well, who would I have to marry?
    Bobby C.: You’d have to marry me.
    Stephanie: I think I’d get an abortion.
  • Tony Manero: Why are you such a cock-tease?
    Stephanie: Don’t you call me no goddam cock-tease!
  • Tony Manero: Would ya just watch the hair. Ya know, I work on my hair a long time and you hit it. He hits my hair.
  • Tony Manero: You know, you and I got the same last initial.
    Stephanie: [Sarcastically] Wow. Does that mean when we get married I won’t have to change the monogram on my luggage?
  • [commenting on Tony's four dollar raise in salary]
    Frank Sr: Four dollars? You know what four dollars buys today? It don’t even buy three dollars!
  • Tony Manero: I knew you’d piss on it. Go on, just piss on it alright. A raise says like you’re good, you know? You know how many times someone told me I was good in my life? Two! Twice! Two fuckin’ times! This raise today, and dancing at the disco!
    [Gets up and walks out of the room]
    Tony Manero: You sure as fuck never did! Asshole!
  • Tony Manero: Are you a nice girl or are you a cunt?
    Annette: Can’t I be both?
    Tony Manero: No. It’s a decision a girl’s gotta make early in life, if she’s gonna be a nice girl or a cunt.
  • Tony Manero: Hey, you know you assholes almost broke my pussy finger.
    Gus: Oh yeah, you wouldn’t know which one it was.
  • Bobby C.: My girlfriend, she loves the taste of communion wafers.
  • Tony Manero: You make it with some of these chicks, they think you gotta dance with them.
  • Tony Manero: She can dance, you know that? She’s got the wrong partner of course, but she can dance.
    Joey: So then why don’t you ask her?
    Tony Manero: Fuck you.
    Joey: Which position?
  • Stephanie: Nice move. Did you make that up?
    Tony Manero: Yeah, well I saw it on TV first, then I made it up.
  • Annette: Ain’t ya gonna ask me to sit down?
    Tony Manero: No, ’cause you would do it.
    Annette: Bet you’d ask me to lay down.
    Tony Manero: No, you would not do it.
  • Tony Manero: If you put your dick in a spic, does it get bigger than a nigger?
  • [in the PG rated version]
    Tony Manero: I gotta have an afternoon off, and I’m taking it.
    Fusco: If you do, you’re fired.
    Tony Manero: I’m DOIN’ it!
    Fusco: Then you’re FIRED!
  • Flo Manero: [to Tony as he walks in the house] Where you been? [he doesn't answer]
    Frank Sr: Your mother wants to know where you been. Where you been?
    Flo Manero: Your father’s askin’ ya! Where you been?
  • Tony Manero: [walks into clothing store after seeing silk shirt in window] You do lay-away?
    Haberdashery Salesman: As long as it doesn’t turn into a ten-year mortgage.
    Tony Manero: [hands salesman some cash and prepares to leave] I want that shirt in the window.
    Haberdashery Salesman: Wait, let me get you a receipt.
    Tony Manero: [still walking out] I trust you.
    Haberdashery Salesman: No… DON’T trust me!
  • Joey: Hey Tony, Double J’s been in the car twenty-five minutes with some chick!
    Tony Manero: So?
    Joey: So, I can’t get the selfish prick out!
    Tony Manero: [to Annette] These guys can’t do nothin’ without me.
  • Stephanie: I’m sick of guys who ain’t got their shit together!
    Tony Manero: Well, all ya need is a salad bowl, and a potato masher, [he mimics stirring in a bowl] and you got your shit together!
  • Double J.: [as he watches Bobby C. fall] “God gave His only son.”
  • Girl in Disco: [Tony Manero makes his way onto the dancefloor at 2001 Odyssey, dancing with two girls] Kiss me. [Tony ignores her request] KISS ME! [Tony kisses her] Ohh, I just kissed Al Pacino!
  • Doreen: Can I wipe your forehead?
  • Tony Manero: You assholes almost broke my pussy finger!
  • Tony Manero: You know what Gus, I feel like breaking your broken legs!
  • Connie: So, are you as good in bed as you are on that dance floor?
    Tony Manero: You know, Connie, if you’re as good in bed as you are on the dance floor, then you’re one lousy fuck.
    Connie: Then how come they always send me flowers the next morning?
    Tony Manero: I dunno. Maybe they thought you was dead.
  • Double J.: [to a girl he just got done having sex with] What did you say your name was?
  • Frank Manero Jr.: Tony, the only way you’re gonna survive is to do what you think is right, not what they keep trying to jam you into. You let ‘em do that and you’re gonna end up in nothing but misery!
  • Tony Manero: There’s ways of killing yourself without killing yourself.
  • Tony Manero: Oh fuck the future!
    Fusco: No, Tony! You can’t fuck the future. The future fucks you! It catches up with you and it fucks you if you ain’t planned for it!

More…

Facts

  • ‘John Travolta’’s sister ‘Ann Travolta’ appears as the pizza lady, and his mother ‘Helen Travolta’ appears as the woman for whom he gets the paint.
  • ‘John Travolta’ ran two miles a day and danced for three hours daily to get in shape for this film. In the end, he dropped 20 pounds.
  • Independent film director ‘Lloyd Kaufman’ nearly dropped out of the film as a production assistant when longtime friend and associate ‘John G. Avildsen’ left the project.
  • This was the first mainstream Hollywood movie in which the term “blow job” was used.
  • This was one of the very first films to utilize the Steadicam, a camera-stabilizing device invented by ‘Garrett Brown’ (who would win a 1978 Oscar for his invention).
  • Two additional songs for the film ended up not being used. One was ‘The Bee Gees’ singing their self-penned version of “If I Can’t Have You”, and ‘Samantha Sang’’s “Emotion”.
  • ‘John Travolta’ originally wanted his disco suit to be black, until it was pointed out that in the darkened disco, his co-star’s red dress would make her easier to see than him.
  • The film was rated R when it was released in late 1977. The studio was so eager to attract more young people to the film because they were buying the soundtrack album, that the film was cut by a few minutes and the shorter version was given a PG rating. The PG version was released in 1978. Both versions were released on VHS but only the R rated version was released on DVD.
  • When Tony’s dad hit him in the back of the head the third time during dinner, his retort of “Just watch the hair!” and then his complaint about being hit on the hair after he had worked on it for so long was ‘John Travolta’’s own reaction and not scripted, but since it was so in character for Tony Manero to say, it was left in.
  • ‘Allan Carr’ designed the ad campaign for the film. It was so successful, that producer ‘Robert Stigwood’ asked Carr to help him produce his next film, Grease (1978).
  • In the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, “maneiro” is a widely-used word, meaning “cool”, taken from the character name, Tony Manero.
  • ‘Fran Drescher’ confessed later she was not wearing underwear when she did her scene with Tony just before his big solo dance.
  • When they shot the first bridge scene, director ‘John Badham’ kept secret from ‘Donna Pescow’ the fact that when ‘the guys “fell off” the bridge they actually landed on a platform a few feet below. Badham and the other actors didn’t tell her about the platform because they wanted a genuine look of horror and anger on Annette’s face when Tony, Double-J and Joey appeared to fall off. Therefore Donna’s reaction to them falling, and her facial expressions turning from horror and shock to outright anger, were real, and her next line, “YOU FUCKERS!”, was not scripted.
  • The original title of the movie was going to be “Tribal Rights of Saturday Night”. The film’s title was ultimately titled “Saturday Night”, as a direct reference to the fact that Tony (‘John Travolta’) and his buddies inhabited 2001 Odyssey on Saturday nights. However, when ‘The Bee Gees’ submitted the soundtrack, one of the songs, “Night Fever”, was thought to embody the film’s spirit better than the original. Director ‘John Badham’ added the word “Saturday” and it replaced the original title.
  • Originally, director ‘John Badham’ filmed the dance rehearsal sequence with Tony and Annette’s characters playing music in the background at the same time with the action and dialogue; a form of production conduct not usually done. The song was “Lowdown” by ‘Boz Scaggs’. However, after filming the scene, ‘John Badham’ got word from Scaggs’ people they did not want the song in the picture, and so the sequence was dubbed, with ‘John Travolta’ and ‘Donna Pescow’ recording their lines in a vocal booth, and in the end composer ‘David Shire’ orchestrated an instrumental piece for the sequence; ultimately the song (the title still unknown to this day) was picked up by the National Football Leagues, and used to open and close the Monday Night Football program for over 20 years.
  • Some VHS releases of this movie had the songs “Dr. Disco”, “Disco Duck”, and “K-Jee” replaced with a generic disco song due to royalty disputes.
  • The soundtrack album sold over 20 million copies, and it was the top selling album in history until it was topped by ‘Michael Jackson’’s “Thriller” six years later.
  • Five additional instrumental cues by ‘David Shire’ were recorded for the film: “Barracuda Hangout”, “Tony and Stephanie”, “Near the Brooklyn Bride”, “Death on the Bridge”, and “All Night Train”. However, only one was credited, and all remained unreleased.
  • More than 40% of the cast made their feature debuts in this film including, ‘Joseph Cali’, ‘Shelly Batt’, ‘Denny Dillon’, ‘Fran Drescher’, ‘Donald Gantry’, ‘Adrienne King’, ‘Ellen March’, ‘Bruce Ornstein’, ‘Paul Pape’, ‘Lisa Peluso’, ‘Donna Pescow’, ‘Ann Travolta’ and mother ‘Helen Travolta’ (her only feature cameo).
  • Production had to be briefly halted so that ‘John Travolta’ could attend the funeral of his girlfriend ‘Diana Hyland’.
  • The only scene that does not feature ‘John Travolta’’s feet is the one where he’s comparing his shoe to the shoe in the store window.
  • The elevated subway line shown in the film, the West End line, is the same one used in the famous chase sequence in The French Connection (1971) was filmed.
  • ‘Amy Irving’ was at one point considered for the role of Stephanie Mangano.
  • The working title of the film was “Saturday Night”. When ‘The Bee Gees’ added a song to the soundtrack called “Night Fever”, the word “Fever” was added to the film title. This is the second time a ‘John Travolta’ project had the title altered due to a song (see trivia for “Welcome Back, Kotter” (1975)).
  • SPOILER: Just to settle a few arguments: In the board game Trivial Pursuit, the bridge that Bobby C (‘Barry Miller’) falls from is incorrectly identified as the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge was of course the Verrazano Narrows which connects Brooklyn with Staten Island.
  • The white polyester suit worn by ‘John Travolta’ sold at auction for $145,000 by movie critic Gene Siskel.
  • Filming was frequently halted on the streets of New York City because teenage girl fans of ‘John Travolta’ would scream when they saw him due to his popularity from the ABC show “Welcome Back, Kotter” (1975).
  • Film critic ‘Gene Siskel’ often referred to this as his favorite film. He saw it 17 times and at one time owned the famous “white suit”.
  • One piece of music from the soundtrack, “Manhattan Skyline” by ‘David Shire’ became very popular as background instrumental music. It was been played in movie trailers, promotional films and commercials. It’s the piece that Stephanie is dancing to when Tony invites her to coffee.
  • In Tony (‘John Travolta’)’s bedroom there’s a poster for Rocky (1976), a film directed by ‘John G. Avildsen’. The sequel to this film, Staying Alive (1983), was written and directed by the star of “Rocky”, ‘Sylvester Stallone’. In fact, Avildsen was the original director of this film but was fired by producer ‘Robert Stigwood’ shortly before principal photography began due to “creative differences”. ‘John Badham’ was approached to fill in at the last minute.
  • ‘Norman Wexler’’s screenplay was adapted from the “non-fiction” magazine article written by ‘Nik Cohn’. Years later, Cohn admitted that the story, supposedly a fact-based account detailing the lives of Brooklyn teenagers in the early days of the disco craze, was a complete fabrication.
  • Bobby’s car is a 1964 Chevy Impala hardtop. While director ‘John Badham’ insisted on the Impala as Bobby’s car, he was later told by Brooklynites that they would only drive an old Cadillac – and never an Impala. Each Impala (there were two used) was purchased by the film company for $1200. The Impala hardtop (with no post) is difficult to find today and will cost quite a bit more than the $1200 it did in 1977.
  • ‘John Travolta’ had worked hard on the “You Should Be Dancing” sequence and threatened to quit the film when the studio suggested it should be dropped.
  • ‘Fran Drescher’’s film debut.
  • The scene where ‘Fran Drescher’ puts her hand on ‘John Travolta’’s butt was not in the original script. Travolta and director ‘John Badham’ thought that it would be something that a woman like Connie (Drescher’s character) would do, however, so it was kept in.
  • An unedited version of “How Deep is Your Love” remains in the vaults. It is featured when Tony walks aimlessly to the subway, and is riding over to Stephanie’s.

More…

Goofs

  • After their initial dancing practice as Tony and Stephanie are walking down the sidewalk, Stephanie’s purse moves from her right shoulder to her left shoulder then right again.
  • Near the end of the film, during the “How Deep Is Your Love” music sequence, there is a time-lapse sunrise over the Brooklyn skyline. The shot is taken from New Jersey or Liberty Island. Some mistakenly believe it to be a time-lapse sunset (in reverse) or a sunrise over the Manhattan skyline.
  • While Tony and Stephanie are sitting at the windows in Stephanie’s apartment, she reaches out and grasps Tony’s left hand with her left hand; but when the camera jumps back, she’s holding his left hand with her right hand.
  • Upon entering the discotheque in the beginning of the movie, Tony greets the same man (in blue shirt) twice.
  • In the opening scene where Tony is walking on the side walk carrying a gallon can of paint, he walks by the same Ford Econline van twice.
  • The night they take the priest to the club, Tony starts dancing solo and the dance floor clears. His dance partner is standing up by the stage dancing in place, as are the rest of the dancers as they watch him dance. The lady briefly disappears and reappears between shots.
  • In the opening sequence, Tony walks down the street and it’s visibly sunny and the pavement is dry. Then when he runs across the street toward the paint store, the street and sidewalk are wet from rain.
  • Just before the guys crash into the Barracudas’ hangout with Bobby C’s car, the car windows are down. After they crash, they open the doors, and the windows are up. When they get back in the car, the windows are down again.
  • During the opening scene of the movie (between roughly 2:40-2:47 seconds into the movie), Tony enters the tailor’s shop by pushing open the door. The handles have “Pull” stamped into them.
  • When Tony first enters 2001 Odyssey, the doorman (gray vest, glasses) stamps his hand and Tony greets him. In the next shot, when Tony moves into the main hall, the doorman is already standing there and Tony shakes his hand.
  • When Tony wakes up after the first night at the disco, he sits up. He has nothing in his hands after scratching himself. After a moment he stands and the scene cuts to a shot of the mirror. In the mirror you can see smoke and briefly a cigarette in his hand that had not been there. He then puts the lit cigarette in an ash tray on his dresser.
  • When Bobby asks Frank (the former priest) about getting a papal dispensation for an abortion, the camera angle changes so that the side of Bobby’s face is shown and all of Frank’s can be seen. Frank answers Bobby and then Bobby says “Well maybe you can, maybe you could do it for me.” At this point, Bobby’s mouth is clearly not moving except once, which indicates that his retort was dubbed in over a one word retort.
  • When Tony asks his boss for an advance on his pay as they are closing the paint store, it is dark outside. In the next shot, when he is running down the street to his house after work, it’s still early afternoon.
  • When the (former) Father Frank Jr is leaving the Monero household to go to a settlement home in the first shot, the car he is about to enter is a Ford Country Squire (full size) station wagon. In the next shot when he gets in the car and it pulls away, it is a different car: a Ford LTD II (mid size) station wagon.
  • When Tony is walking down Brooklyn’s 86th Street with the paint can, he walks toward the Benson theater marquee. After he hassles the young lady, he walks away from the Benson, back the way he was coming from.
  • In the scene when Frank Jr. leaves the family home, as Tony and Frank Jr. approach the car door, the shadow of the boom mic is visible on the tree trunk.
  • At the dinner table after father Frank has left the priesthood, Tony is eating and his fork changes from left to right and back several times before he screams at his mother.
  • During the Night Fever line dance, Joey is to the right of Tony, but in the previous shot, he had just gone outside to hook up with a girl in the car.
  • When Tony talks with Stephanie in her apartment after the “lonesome subway ride” scene.
  • When Tony is walking with Bobby C. by the paint store, a crowd is reflected on the last window they pass before they reach the corner.
  • Just before Tony gets off the subway train the first time, “45th Street” station signs are visible from inside the car. After he’s gotten off the train, he is waiting for a train at “53rd Street”. Neither station is a transfer point in the NY subway.
  • Reflected in the mirror in the studio as Tony and Stephanie are practice their “More Than a Woman” routine.
  • After Tony leaves the “Disco Duck” dance lesson, he introduces himself to Stephanie. He asks her if she is practicing to be a bitch. She turns her head to him, then the camera angle changes. She is facing away and turns around to face him.
  • When Tony and Stephanie go to dance to Tavare’s version of “More Than a Woman”, Tony places the needle on the record, and the arm skips all the way to the end, revealing that the record player is broken and the music dubbed in later.
  • During the scene where Father Frank Jr. is leaving the Manero house, when Tony, Father Frank Jr. and the driver load the bags into the car, a boom mic shadow is visible on the top portion of the car.
  • The story that Tony tells Stephanie that a worker was buried in the Verrazano Bridge is false.

More…

Soundtrack

  • “Staying Alive” Courtesy of RSO Records, Inc., Stigwood Music, Inc. (Unichappell Music, Inc.) BMI and Bros. Gibb, B.V. Written by ‘Barry Gibb’ (as Barry), ‘Robin Gibb’ (as Robin) and ‘Maurice Gibb’ Performed by ‘The Bee Gees’
  • “Night Fever” Courtesy of RSO Records, Inc., Stigwood Music, Inc. (Unichappell Music, Inc.) BMI and Bros. Gibb, B.V. Written by ‘Barry Gibb’ (as Barry), ‘Robin Gibb’ (as Robin) and ‘Maurice Gibb’ Performed by ‘The Bee Gees’
  • “A Fifth Of Beethoven” Courtesy of Private Stock Records, Ltd. and RFT Music Publishing Corp. Performed by ‘Walter Murphy’
  • “Disco Inferno” Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corporation and Six Strings Music Performed by ‘The Trammps’
  • “Salsation” Composed and Arranged by ‘David Shire’
  • “If I Can’t Have You” Courtesy of RSO Records, Inc., Stigwood Music, Inc. (Unichappell Music, Inc.) BMI and Bros. Gibb, B.V. Written by ‘Barry Gibb’ (as Barry), ‘Robin Gibb’ (as Robin) and ‘Maurice Gibb’ Performed by ‘Yvonne Elliman’
  • “Boogie Shoes” Courtesy of TK Records and Sherlyn Publishing Company, Inc. Performed by ‘KC & The Sunshine Band’ (as K.C. And The Sunshine Band®)
  • “Manhattan Skyline” Composed and Arranged by ‘David Shire’
  • “More Than A Woman” Courtesy of RSO Records, Inc., Stigwood Music, Inc. (Unichappell Music, Inc.) BMI and Bros. Gibb, B.V. Written by ‘Barry Gibb’ (as Barry), ‘Robin Gibb’ (as Robin) and ‘Maurice Gibb’ Performed by ‘The Bee Gees’
  • “How Deep Is Your Love” Courtesy of RSO Records, Inc., Stigwood Music, Inc. (Unichappell Music, Inc.) BMI and Bros. Gibb, B.V. Written by ‘Barry Gibb’ (as Barry), ‘Robin Gibb’ (as Robin) and ‘Maurice Gibb’ Performed by ‘The Bee Gees’
  • “You Should Be Dancing” Courtesy of RSO Records, Inc., Stigwood Music, Inc. (Unichappell Music, Inc.) BMI and Bros. Gibb, B.V. Performed by ‘The Bee Gees’
  • “Night On Disco Mountain” Adapted by ‘David Shire’ based on “Night On Bald Mountain” written by ‘Modest Mussorgsky’ Courtesy of RSO Records, Inc., Stigwood Music, Inc. and Ensign Music Corp. BMI
  • “Open Sesame” Courtesy of Delite Records and Delightful Music Inc. Performed by ‘Kool & The Gang’ (as Kool And The Gang)
  • “K-Jee” Courtesy of Philadelphia International Records Inc., Dunbar Music Inc. and Rutri Music, Inc. Performed by ‘Mfsb’ (as M.F.S.B.)
  • “More Than A Woman” Courtesy of RSO Records, Inc., Stigwood Music, Inc. (Unichappell Music, Inc.) BMI and Bros. Gibb, B.V. Written by ‘Barry Gibb’ (as Barry), ‘Robin Gibb’ (as Robin) and ‘Maurice Gibb’ Performed by ‘Tavares’
  • “Dr. Disco” Courtesy of RSO Records, Inc. and Stafree Music Performed by ‘Rick Dees’
  • “Disco Duck” Courtesy of RSO Records, Inc. and Stafree Music Performed by ‘Rick Dees’
  • “Barracuda Hangout” Composed and Arranged by ‘David Shire’
  • “Calypso Breakdown” (uncredited) Written by ‘William Eaton’ Performed by ‘Ralph MacDonald’ Produced by ‘Ralph MacDonald’ and W. Salter Courtesy Marlin Records
  • “Jive Talkin’” (uncredited) Written by ‘Barry Gibb’, ‘Robin Gibb’ and ‘Maurice Gibb’ Performed by ‘The Bee Gees’ Produced by ‘The Bee Gees’, ‘Karl Richardson (II)’ and ‘Albhy Galuten’ for Karlbhy Productions by arrangement with the Robert Stigwood Organisation Courtesy Polydor Records
  • “Lowdown” (uncredited) Written by ‘David Hungate’, ‘Bobby Kimball’, ‘Steve Lukather’, ‘David Paich’, ‘Jeff Porcaro’, ‘Mike Porcaro’ and ‘Steve Porcaro’ Performed by ‘Toto (XXIII)’ Arranged by ‘David Shire’ Produced by ‘Bill Oakes’ and ‘David Shire’

Fluke (1995)



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