John Badham, Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Movies
January 3rd, 2004 • 7:10 am

As someone who had never seen the movie and only had a passing familiarity with the music, I was pleasantly surprised by Saturday Night Fever. While it isn’t really a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, it certainly is much raunchier and more intriguing than I thought.

For some reason, I expected a typical rags-to-riches type of movie, with all kinds of triumphing over adversity, over-the-top performances and a big feel-good ending. I also expected typical Hollywood family fare. I guess I might have suspected otherwise if I had seen the “R” rating of the movie before watching it.

As a matter of fact, there was much more acting and much less dancing than I had imagined. And the music is actually rather good. I didn’t realize that the soundtrack had so many big hits on it. Granted, some of it sounds rather dated today, but the Bee Gees had several very strong songs. I was a bit too young back (and still in France) in 1977, but the whole thing must have been huge back then.

What’s even more remarkable in my view is how politically incorrect (by today’s standards) the movie was. Racism, sexism, sexual abuse, slang — you get a whole range of things that probably would not and could not feature in a hugely popular movie today. Today’s popular movies are deliberately made for 14-year-old teenagers — or at least for what their parents think 14-year-old teenagers are like. It seems to me that the 1970s were a bit more adult- and reality-oriented in that respect. It’s something that has been lost.

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