AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Saturday Night Fever
Alternate Title: Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night
Director: John Badham (Dir)
Release Date:   16 Dec 1977
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles and New York openings: 16 Dec 1977
Production Date:   14 Mar 1977––May 1977 in New York City
Duration (in mins):   118
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Cast:   John Travolta (Tony Manero)  
  Introducing Karen Lynn Gorney (Stephanie [Mangano]) as
  With: Barry Miller (Bobby C.)  
    Joseph Cali (Joey)  
    Paul Pape (Double J.)  
    Bruce Ornstein (Gus)  
    Donna Pescow (Annette)  
    Val Bisoglio (Frank [Manero], Sr.) as
    Julie Bovasso (Flo [Manero])  
    Martin Shakar (Frank [Manero], Jr.)  
    Nina Hansen (Grandmother)  
  [and] Lisa Peluso (Linda [Manero])  
    Sam J. Coppola ([Dan] Fusco)  
    Lisa Peluso (Linda)  
    Denny Dillon (Doreen)  
    Bert Michaels (Pete)  
    Robert Costanza (Paint store customer)  
    Robert Weil (Becker)  
    Shelly Batt (Girl in disco)  
    Fran Drescher (Connie)  
    Donald Gantry (Jay Langhart)  
    Murray Moston (Haberdashery salesman)  
    William Andrews (Detective)  
    Ann Travolta (Pizza girl)  
    Helen Travolta (Lady in paint store)  
    Ellen March (Bartender)  
    Monti Rock, III (The deejay) as

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.  

Production Company: RSO (Robert Stigwood Organization)  
Production Text: Paramount Pictures Presents
A Robert Stigwood Production
Brand Name:

Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures Corp. (A Gulf+Western company)
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)
Photography: Ralf D. Bode (Dir of photog)
  Tom Priestley, Jr. (Cam op)
  Bill Ward (Gaffer)
  James Finnerty (Key grip)
  Litelab of New York (Discotheque lighting provided by)
  Gary Muller (Asst cam)
  Bob Paone (2d asst cam)
  Holly Bowers (Stills)
Art Direction: Charles Bailey (Prod des)
  John Linder (Scenic artist)
Film Editor: David Rawlins (Ed)
Set Decoration: George DeTitta (Set dec)
  James Mazzola (Prop master)
  John Godfrey (Set dec/Outside props)
  Michael Bird (Props)
Costumes: Patrizia Von Brandenstein (Cost des)
  Jennifer Nichols (Cost)
Music: Barry Gibb (Orig mus)
  Robin Gibb (Orig mus)
  Maurice Gibb (Orig mus)
  David Shire (Addl mus and adapt)
  John Caper, Jr. (Mus ed)
Sound: Les Lazarowitz (Sd mixer)
  Michael Colgan (Sd ed)
  John K. Wilkinson (Re-rec mixer)
  Robert W. Glass, Jr. (Re-rec mixer)
  John T. Reitz (Re-rec mixer)
  John Fundes (Sd rec)
  Dick Guiness (Sd boom)
Special Effects: Cirrus Productions (Main title des)
Dance: Lester Wilson (Mus numbers staged and choreog)
  Lorraine Fields (Asst choreog)
  Jo-Jo Smith (Dance consultant)
Make Up: Joe Tubens (Hair des)
  Henriquez (Makeup)
Production Misc: Shirley Rich (Casting)
  Lloyd Kaufman (Loc exec)
  Renata Stoia (Scr supv)
  Arlene Albertson (Prod office coord)
  Todd-Champion Ltd. (Extra casting)
  Gary Kalkin (Unit pub)
  James Gambina (Tech consultant)
  Joy McMillan (Asst to Mr. Stigwood)
  Carl Lotito (Asst to Mr. Stigwood)
  Ronald Stigwood (Asst to Mr. Stigwood)
  Colleen Murphy (Asst to Mr. Badham)
  Pro Arts, Inc. (Farrah Fawcett poster compliments of)
  Paul Ganapoler (Unit mgr)
  Anne Kingman-Page (Asst to exec prod)
  Ingrid Johnson (Secy to dir)
  Lloyd Zeiderman & Assoc. (Prod auditor)
  Kathleen McGill (Prod auditor)
  Flynn Gold (Prod auditor)
  Cyrus Todd (Prod asst)
  David Baeder (Prod asst)
  Shawn Hausman (Prod asst)
  William Curry (Teamster capt)
  Robert Leddy (Driver)
Stand In: Paul Nuckles (Stunt coord)
  Jeff Zinn (John Travolta's double)
Color Personnel: Movielab (Col by)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: "Night On Disco Mountain," adapted by David Shire from Ussorgsky's "Night On Bald Mountain," courtesy of RSO Records, Inc., Stigwood Music, Inc. and Ensign Music Corp. BMI.
Songs: "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, Robin Gibb 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, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb, performed by the Bee Gees; "Staying Alive," courtesy of RSO Records, Inc., Stigwood Music, Inc. (Unichappell Music, Inc.) BMI and Bros. Gibb, B.V., written by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb, performed by the Bee Gees; "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, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb, performed by the Bee Gees; "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, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb, performed by Yvonne Elliman; "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, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb, performed by Tavares; "Manhattan Skyline," composed and arranged by David Shire; "Barracuda Hangout," composed and arranged by David Shire; "Salsation," composed and arranged by David Shire; "K-Jee," courtesy of Philadelphia International Records Inc., Dunbar Music Inc. and Rutri Music, Inc., written by Charles Edward Hearndon, performed by M.F.S.B.; "A Fifth Of Beethoven," courtesy of Private Stock Records, Ltd. and RFT Music Publishing Corp., written by Ludwig Van Beethoven and Walter Murphy, performed by Walter Murphy; "Disco Inferno," courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corporation and Six Strings Music, written by Leroy Green and Tyrone G. Kersey, performed by the Trammps; "Open Sesame," courtesy of Delite Records and Delightful Music Inc., performed by Kool and the Gang; "Dr. Disco," courtesy of RSO Records, Inc. and Stafree Music, performed by Rick Dees; "Disco Duck," courtesy of RSO Records, Inc. and Stafree Music, written and performed by Rick Dees; "Boogie Shoes," courtesy of TK Records and Sherlyn Publishing Company, Inc., written by Harry Wayne Casey and Rick Finch, performed by K.C. and the Sunshine Band; "You Should Be Dancing," courtesy of RSO Records, Inc., Stigwood Music, Inc. (Unichappell Music, Inc.) BMI and Bros. Gibb, B.V., written by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb, performed by the Bee Gees.
Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  Harry Wayne Casey
  Rick Dees
  Rick Finch
  Barry Gibb
  Maurice Gibb
  Robin Gibb
  Leroy Green
  Charles Edward Hearndon
  Tyrone G. Kersey
  Walter Anthony Murphy Jr.
  Modest Mussorgsky
  David Shire
Source Text: Based on the magazine article "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night" by Nik Cohn in New York Magazine (7 Jun 1976).
Authors: Nik Cohn

Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby System®
  col:
  Lenses: Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®

 
Genre: Drama
 
Subjects (Major): Dancing
  Discotheques
  Italian Americans
  New York City--Brooklyn
  Romance
 
Subjects (Minor): Accidental death
  Amphetamines
  Automobiles
  Catholics
  Class distinction
  Coffee
  Drunkenness
  Fistfights
  Friendship
  Gangs
  Hardware stores
  Hospitals
  Premarital sex
  Pregnancy
  Priests
  Racism
  Rape
  Subways
  Verrazzano Bridge (New York City)

Note:        End credits include the following written statement: “Filmed entirely on location in New York City.”
       An 11 Jun 1976 HR article announced that producer Robert Stigwood purchased the film rights to the 7 Jun 1976 New York article “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night” by Nik Cohn, who was also hired to write the screen adaptation; however, Cohn is not credited onscreen in this role. Filming was scheduled to begin Fall 1976.
       According to a 5 Dec 1997 article in The Times (London), Cohn admitted that he fabricated the story, using composites to create the protagonist, “Vincent,” who was renamed “Tony” for the film.
       A 22 Sep 1976 HR report, which announced John Travolta’s three-picture, $1 million deal with Robert Stigwood, stated that John Avildsen would direct the film and thatprincipal photography was set to start 14 Feb 1977, with a $3 million budget. While HR referred to the film’s title as Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night, a DV news item published the same day listed the picture as Saturday Night.
       On 17 Feb 1977, a DV column stated that John Badham replaced Avildsen as director and production would start in Mar 1977. A 31 Mar 1977 DV column noted Avildsen left due to “conceptual disagreements.”
       A 25 Apr 1977 Box brief reported that principal photography began 14 Mar 1977 and a 25 May 1977 DV news item noted that location shooting in New York City was completed. A 9 Mar 1983 NYT brief stated that Jeff Zinn was John Travolta’s stand-in and double, including shots during the opening credits sequence as “Tony Manero” walks along 86th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York City, but Zinn is not credited onscreen.
       A 14 Dec 1978 HR news story announced that Paramount Pictures Corp. planned to release a PG-rated version of Saturday Night Fever in Mar 1979. That version, which was originally prepared for television, was submitted to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for certification 4 Dec 1978, according to a 12 Jan 1979 LAHExam article.
       Many reviews focused on Travolta’s breakout performance, with the 16 Dec 1977 LAHExam calling the film “the story of a love affair – between John Travolta and the camera.” Travolta received an Academy Award nomination for Actor in a Leading Role. He reprised his role as Tony Manero in Staying Alive (1983, see entry). 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   25 Apr 1977.   
Box Office   19 Dec 1977.   
Daily Variety   22 Sep 1976.   
Daily Variety   17 Feb 1977   p.3.
Daily Variety   31 Mar 1977   p. 1, 6.
Daily Variety   25 May 1977.   
Hollywood Reporter   11 Jun 1976.   
Hollywood Reporter   22 Sep 1976   p. 1, 12.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Mar 1977.   
Hollywood Reporter   9 Dec 1977   p. 3, 46.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Dec 1978.   
Independent Film Journal   23 Dec 1977.   
LAHExam   16 Dec 1977.   
LAHExam   12 Jan 1979   Section B, p. 1, 5.
Los Angeles Times   11 Dec 1977   p. 74.
Motion Picture Production Digest   21 Dec 1977.   
New Republic   11 Feb 1978.   
New Times   23 Jan 1978   p. 64.
New York   9 Jan 1978   p. 64.
New York Times   16 Dec 1977   p. 10.
New York Times   9 Mar 1983.   
New Yorker   26 Dec 1977   pp. 59-60.
Newsweek   19 Dec 1977.   
Time   19 Dec 1977.   
The Times (London)   5 Dec 1997.   
UCLA Daily Bruin   10 Jan 1978   p. 15, 17.
Variety   14 Dec 1977   p. 12.
Village Voice   26 Dec 1977   p. 41.

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