Saturday Night Fever: Disco Era A
Special Collector's Edition
This seminal movie about “Life on the Dance Floor,” arguably the best Hollywood picture about the disco era, will be out September 18, 2007 with a DVD boasting special features, including new interviews and explorations of the movie's legacy, soundtrack, wardrobe, and star John Travolta, in a career-making performance.
You can relive–vicariously–the lure of the dance floor in the heady days of disco when the Saturday Night Fever Special Collectors Edition DVD debuts on September 18, 2007 from Paramount Home Entertainment.
The film stars John Travolta as Tony Manero, a Brooklyn kid with no prospects who lives for Saturday night when he becomes the king of his local dance club; it was a role that earned Travolta his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a leading role.
Directed by John Badham (War Games), Saturday Night Fever captured the angst and brio of a generation in equal measure and had an indelible impact on popular culture.
The Special Collectors Edition DVD includes commentary by director John Badham, Catching the Fever, a five-part look at the film featuring new interviews with cast members and Barry and Robin Gibb, Back to Bay Ridge, Dance Like Travolta with John Cassese and more.
The film features an explosive soundtrack composed and performed primarily by the Bee Gees, which has sold more than 25 million copies. Featuring mega-hits including Stayin Alive, Night Fever, How Deep Is Your Love, More Than A Woman and If I Cant Have You, the album was ranked number 131 on Rolling Stones list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003.
The arrival of the DVD coincides with Reprises September 18 re-release of the multi-platinum Bee Gees Greatest two-CD deluxe edition, which contains two previously unreleased tracks and four contemporary dance remixes of Bee Gees classics.
The Special Collectors Edition DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround, French 2.0 Surround and Spanish Mono and English, French and Spanish subtitles. Bonus features included on the DVD are as follows:
Commentary by director John Badham
Catching the Fever
A 30-Year Legacy
Making Soundtrack History
Platforms & Polyester
Deejays & Disco
Spotlight on Travolta
Back to Bay Ridge
Dance Like Travolta with John Cassese
Do the hustle! Ring my bell! Disco-o-o duck! In 1977, while disaffected British youth were violently thrashing to the pummeling beat of the Sex Pistols, disaffected American youth just across the Atlantic were gallantly “strutting,” like knights and ladies, to the soft disco rhythms of the eternally high-pitched Bee Gees. The enormous and obnoxious disco craze of 1977 and 1978 in America, which had its origins in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, was induced by the film Saturday Night Fever.
The film enticingly broadcast the new social rituals of the Bay Ridge discotheque throughout the country, which quickly became the social rituals of clubs in every major city. Gold necklaces, like tribal attire, adorned the polyester-clad bodies of young American males who desperately tried to imitate the dance-floor gymnastics of America's newest movie star, fresh from television, John Travolta.
In the film, the weekend lifestyle of Travolta's character, 19-year-old Tony Manero, is presented as an all-out religious ritual, from primping before the mirror prior to going out to playing dangerous games on the Brooklyn Bridge after a full night of disco dancing and back-seat lovemaking. Tony's religious lifestyle stands in contrast to his brother's religious lifestyle as an actual priest. Predictably, Tony's brother has a crisis of faith and leaves the Church before the film is over, while Tony's shamanistic dancing magic at the Disco 2001 is ultimately his ticket out of Brooklyn (hell) to redemption in Manhattan (heaven).
The idea for the screenplay, which was written by Norman Wexler, came from a July 7, 1976 New York magazine cover story entitled “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night.” Writer Nik Cohn and painter James McMullan spent a few months before the article was published in the trenches studying the unique subculture of Bay Ridge. McMullan contributed paintings of the disco lifestyle, which became the inspiration for the look of the film, and ultimately for the look of discotheques and disco fashion in general throughout the States in 1978.
The tease for the article, on the Contents page of the July 7th New York issue, introduced readers to: “The rise of a new generation in the suburbs, specifically the young Italian men of Bay Ridge. Unlike the kids of the sixties, these youths are not dropouts, revolutionaries, freaked out on flower power or meditation. They've gone into jobs obediently, somberly. But once a week, on Saturday night, they explode. Sometimes they have fights, sometimes they get drunk, but mostly they congregate at a disco club where, surrounded by awed, pliant girls, they surge across the dance floor like soldiers across a battlefield, churning out an endless array of dances in perfect form and formation.”
Director John Badham (who later would direct Blue Thunder and Wargames, both in 1983) and producer Robert Stigwood translated Cohn's words and McMullan's paintings into a film, which became a landmark in American culture, decidedly putting the youth culture of the 1960s out to pasture once and for all.
The extent of the film's success was certainly unexpected. In its first 31 days, it grossed an amazing 31 million dollars. During its initial run alone, it grossed over 110 million dollars. The film's success can be attributed to Stigwood's expert tapping of the youth market: his realization that it was time to give American youth something new to believe in; specifically, a new kind of music.
The now infamous soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, which Stigwood orchestrated to include a plethora of high-pitched Bee Gees sing-alongs, established a series of music industry records as it produced hit single after hit single throughout 1978. The album quickly grossed much more money than the film: 285 million dollars in first 8 months of release.
The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack set a precedent for the two-album soundtrack, which was also a big success with Grease (1978), but in the end disastrous for double soundtracks to The Wiz (1978) and especially Stigwood's film version of the Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band (1978). Still, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack success was later repeated by successful soundtracks to such films as The Big Chill (1983) and Top Gun (1986).
The soundtrack was a huge seller because it had a vast breadth of appeal: it was soft, palatable disco music, barely even funky, yet quite danceable. It was acceptable to middle-class America.
related article 1: Saturday Night Fever: Fashion and Zeitgeist.
related article 2: Saturday Night Fever: Disco Rites and Rituals.
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