Saturday Night Fever 3.0 stars

Saturday Night Fever movie poster

A softened, popularized version of the Mean Streets topic: the hell-raising of Italian Catholic buddies in the New York boroughs. You can also see traces of Rocky in the awkward, inarticulate boy-girl romance, and in the Sylvester Stallone poster that hangs on the hero's wall alongside the best-selling posters of Bruce Lee, Al Pacino, and Farrah Fawcett (John Avildsen, the director of Rocky, was fired from this project early in production). The lead role — a paint store clerk who, Cinderella-like, blossoms into a disco king every weekend — fits John Travolta as snugly as his pants. It's hard to imagine this actor ever bettering himself hereafter. Despite the weak-willed commercial concessions (the broad domestic comedy, the incongruous gang fight, and the hero's profound self-revelation at the end), the movie shows some small braveries. One is that the central boy-girl relationship is defined without their once going to bed together. Another is that the moviegoer is asked to acknowledge the humanity of people who speak in Brooklyn dialect. The really big success of the movie, though, is the dancing, which is quite exciting enough to have done without the camera acrobatics that accompany it. With Karen Lynn Gorney; directed by John Badham. 1977.

Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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