Friday, 21 August 2015

Saturday Night Fever - Film Review

One of my first memories of music on screen was watching “Saturday Night Fever” when I was nine. I remember the opening scene with John Travolta as Tony Manero, walking down the street to the Bee Gees falsetto “Stayin Alive”. I recollect thinking how cool Travolta is walking along using the side walk as his catwalk. He oozes confidence as he struts his stuff down the street. But we soon realize he is not quite the superstar he thinks he is. The music ends and he is back to reality working in the paint store. At the weekend he turns into the King of the Disco admired for his impressive dance moves and his style on the dance floor of the local disco– wearing the white suit.   
When I saw the film again at 24 later I was surprised how differently I remembered the plot and how disappointing it was. The music was as good as ever: You Should Be Dancing, Night Fever, If I Can’t Have You, More Than A Woman, and of course Stayin Alive. The dancing of Travolta and his white suit were
as impressive as ever. However, I thought the plot was weak and the characters unsympathetic. The leading female character, Stephanie who is Tony’s partner in the disco dance competition is particularly unlovable. Only Father Frank, Tony’s Catholic priest brother who is doubting his faith comes across as a rounded character. Tony’s friends are an unpleasant bunch, racist and sexist. Tony seems a bit better. I assume I saw a heavily edited TV version missing the bad language and Annette’s rape scene.

There is a particularly unconvincing scene when Tony and his friends drive off to seek revenge on a local gang who had beat up one of their friends. There is no indication previously that they are a gang. They ram-raid a local coffee bar and start beating up the people in it who are supposedly the gang. The fight looks staged and very unconvincing. They later find out their friend wasn’t certain who had actually beat him up. Tony has to take part in the dance competition with a beat up face. That he was so careful about his appearance – he tell his father off for touching his hair in an early scene in the film when he is having dinner with his family- it seems unlikely that he would risk damage to his face in a fight just before the dance competition which was so important to him.

                                             The music is great but the script is terrible!

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