AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Saturday Night Fever
Director: John Badham (Dir)
Release Date:   16 Dec 1977
Duration (in mins):  118
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Cast: John Travolta  (Tony Manero)
  Karen Lynn Gorney  (Stephanie [Mangano])
  Barry Miller  (Bobby C.)

Summary: Nineteen-year-old Tony Manero swaggers through the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, on his way to work at a hardware store. His boss, Dan Fusco, likes that Tony charms customers, but he refuses the young man’s request for an advance. At home, Tony primps to go out, then rushes through dinner with his Italian-American parents, Frank, Sr., and Flo, his grandmother, and his younger sister, Linda, all of whom compare him unfavorably to his older brother, Frank, Jr., a Catholic priest. Outside, Tony’s friends Bobby C., Joey, Double J., and Gus, wait in Bobby C.’s car on their way to the 2001 Odyssey discotheque. Crowded and pulsing with music, the Odyssey is where Tony and his friends spend their weekends and their paychecks. Annette, one of the regulars, asks Tony to dance, but he squashes her romantic notions. Later, Tony notices a new girl, Stephanie Mangano. He retreats to another room in the club where Annette joins him, suggesting they be partners for the club’s upcoming dance competition. Tony makes it clear they will need to practice often, and the partnership is strictly about dancing, not dating. Joey interrupts because he wants Tony to get Double J. out of the car, where he is having sex with a girl whose name he does not know. The next morning, the five young men express their cynical views of the future, but Tony learns Fusco has given him a raise. That night, Tony’s father dismisses the pay increase and Tony angrily points out that the raise and the attention he gets for his dancing are the only positive acknowledgements he has ever received. Later, Tony meets Annette at a dance studio and she offers to make love with him, but Tony again insists the relationship remain platonic. When Tony notices Stephanie practicing in another room, he chases off Annette, but Stephanie is cool toward him. Returning home, Tony finds his family somber as Frank, Jr., the priest, has returned to announce that he is leaving the church. The next day, Tony is energized and invites Stephanie for coffee. She tells him she is not interested in him romantically, pointing out their six-month age difference and the cultural superiority she feels because she works in New York City at a public relations firm. She agrees to be Tony’s partner in the dance competition, but will not date him because he is immature and his life is going nowhere. Tony tells her that he wants to find other ways to experience the high he feels from dancing because the thrill will not last forever. Later, Tony’s friends inform him that Gus is in the hospital after being beaten by a Hispanic gang, the Barracudas. Bobby C. announces that he is getting married, but Tony dismisses the idea. He later informs Annette that he has found another dance partner for the competition. At the rehearsal studio, Tony and Stephanie begin to click, but when Stephanie again declines Tony’s invitation to coffee, he deems her pretentious. When Tony presses to know why they never discuss the romantic feelings that emerge from their dancing, Stephanie says he should have seduced without asking permission first. Later, Tony and his friends bring Frank, Jr., to the discotheque. While Bobby C. confides to Frank, Jr. that his girl friend is pregnant, Tony dances solo and the crowd clears the floor in appreciation. Frank, Jr., is impressed by his brother’s talent. Afterward, Tony is annoyed to learn from the doorman that Stephanie has not arrived. Annette corners Tony and suggests they can be lovers now that they are not dance partners, but Tony dismisses the idea until she threatens to have sex with one of his friends, instead. Tony escorts Annette to Bobby’s car, but their revelry is cut short when he discovers she is not using birth control. Later, the boys and Annette drive to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Tony, Joey, and Double J. climb the support cables and pretend to fall, frightening Annette. In the morning, a car arrives to take Frank, Jr. to a settlement house until he figures out his next move. He counsels Tony to pursue dancing and not let the family limit his dreams. Later, at the studio, Tony chides Stephanie for not going to the discotheque the previous night. After rehearsing, they join Tony’s friends for burgers and the boys’ rowdy behavior embarrasses Tony. Bobby C. hypothetically asks Stephanie what she would do if she was his pregnant girl friend, and she says she would choose an abortion over marriage. The next day, Tony’s boss refuses the boy’s request for the day off, and when Tony takes the day anyway, he is fired. Tony borrows Bobby C.’s car and promises to call his friend later. As Tony helps Stephanie move into her New York City apartment, an older man, Jay Langhart, is moving out. He kisses Stephanie and tells her to keep the furniture since she picked it out. Alone with Stephanie, Tony asks what is going on and she confesses to having an affair with Jay to boost her career. Upset, Stephanie asks Tony to take her back to Bay Ridge, but Tony instead takes her to Shore Park, where he comforts her and demonstrates his extensive knowledge of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Afterward, Tony returns to the hardware store and Fusco gives him back his job, promising the boy a prosperous future. However, Tony observes the men who have worked there for years and is unnerved. Later, Tony finds Stephanie dancing with Pete, the owner of the studio, and leaves, enraged. Outside the 2001 Odyssey, Annette shows Tony a handful of condoms, but he walks away and Annette is crushed. Tony, Bobby C., Double J., and Joey stake out the Barracudas hideout, and Bobby C. tries to tell Tony he has decided to marry pregnant Pauline. Double J. grabs the wheel of Bobby C.’s car and crashes into the clubhouse. A fight ensues with the Barracudas and although Bobby C. hides in the car, he is attacked. Bobby C. puts the car in reverse and drives away. Tony is badly beaten, but Double J. and Joey drag him outside just as Bobby C. returns; however, his friends are angry he left. Tony and the others visit Gus in the hospital only to learn that he is not sure if the Barracudas beat him after all. Cleaned up from the fight, the friends return to the discotheque for the dance competition. An African American couple takes the floor and is treated rudely by the audience. Meanwhile, Annette asks Joey for amphetamines. Tony and Stephanie perform the hustle, during which they share a kiss, and the crowd roars its approval. Next, a Puerto Rican couple dances extremely well, impressing Tony and most of the crowd, but there are scattered jeers. The judges award first place to Tony and Stephanie, followed by the Puerto Ricans. However, Tony is convinced the other couple deserved to win and he accuses his friends of hypocrisy. Tony gives the trophy and prize money to the other couple and takes Stephanie outside to Bobby C.’s car. She rebuffs his sexual advances and they argue. Tony tries to force himself on her and she flees. Double J., Joey, Bobby C. and an intoxicated Annette join Tony in the car. As they drive around Bay Ridge, Joey has sex with Annette in the backseat. Double J switches places with Joey and when Annette realizes that Tony is not going to stop his friends, she begins to cry. At the bridge, Joey and Double J. begin climbing on the support beams as Bobby C. watches. In the car, Tony asks Annette if she really wanted to be treated this way. Intoxicated, Bobby C. joins Joey and Double J. on the beams and Tony tries to talk him down, but Bobby C. rebukes Tony for failing to call him the day of Stephanie’s move. When Bobby C. falls to his death, police interrogate the friends. Tony leaves on foot and rides the subway until morning. In New York City, Tony visits Stephanie’s new apartment. Through the door, he apologizes and she reluctantly invites him in. Tony announces that he is not going back to Bay Ridge and that he intends to get a job in the city. Stephanie is wary, but confesses she enjoyed Tony’s admiration and respect. They agree to be friends.  

Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures Corp.
Production Company: RSO (Robert Stigwood Organization)
Director: John Badham (Dir)
  John Nicolella (Prod mgr)
  Allan Wertheim (Asst dir)
  Joseph Ray (2d asst dir)
  Ray Kook (DGA trainee)
Producer: Robert Stigwood (Prod)
  Milt Felsen (Assoc prod)
  Kevin McCormick (Exec prod)
Writer: Norman Wexler (Scr)

Subject Major: Dancing
  Italian Americans
  New York City--Brooklyn
Subject Minor: Accidental death
  Class distinction
  Hardware stores
  Premarital sex
  Verrazzano Bridge (New York City)

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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