Saturday Night Fever (1977) - 30th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition

Genre(s): Drama
Paramount || R - 119 minutes - $19.99 || September 18, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-09-13


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: John Badham
Writer(s): Nik Cohn (article); Norman Wesler (screenplay)
Cast: John Travolta, Karen Lyn Gorney, Barry Miller, Joseph Cali, Paul Pape, Donna Pescow


Theatrical Release Date: December 16, 1977


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director's Commentary
  • Catching the Fever
  • Back to Bay Ridge
  • Dance Like Travolta with John Cassese
  • Fever Challenge!
  • 70's Discopedia (Trivia Track)


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Surround 2.0), Spanish (Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Plot Outline (from DVD back cover): John Travolta gives a sensual and intelligent performance as the troubled Tony Manero -- Brooklyn pain store clerk by day and undisputed king of the dance floor by night. Every Saturday, Tony puts on his wide collared shirt, flared pants and platform shoes and heads out to the only place where he’s seen a god rather than just some young punk. But in the darkness, away from the strobe lights and glitter ball, is a tragic story of disillusionment, violence and heartbreak.

Saturday Night Fever is one great movie with classic music intertwined with a ‘coming of age’ story that has stood the test of time. On the one hand, Fever serves as a time capsule of an era with polyester and disco dancing. On the other hand, it is timeless and is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago.

This movie is good on several fronts. First, it launched John Travolta’s movie career. At the time, he already was a heartthrob for the ladies with “Welcome Back, Kotter” and a singing career but Fever sent him into a whole another level of stardom that morphed into another cultural classic, Grease. He’s in his element here veering from a suave jerk to someone you feel for and, on a certain point, understand.

The highlight and perhaps the sole reason Saturday Night Fever is still revered today is the soundtrack, primarily from the Bee Gees. From its classic titles of Travolta walking down the Brooklyn streets over “Stayin’ Alive” to “Night Fever” and “How Deep is Your Love”, I’m not afraid to admit that not only do I own the album (CD), but I can’t get enough of those songs.

Sure, polyester is out but the beats live on through both the music and story. Yeah, it’s 30 years later, but those today can still relate with these characters. It’s a coming of age movie that doesn’t beat its message over the viewer’s heads. Over the course of a relatively short two hours, we see Travolta change. It’s his performance in Fever that shows why he’s such a great actor (blemishes and all).



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Paramount already released Saturday Night Fever before in a “25th Anniversary” Edition, so I guess they couldn’t resist another go-around. This “30th Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition” has a few featurettes, but other than the commentary, the deleted scenes and VH1 Behind the Music were not carried over.

Director Commentary - This track by John Badham was carried over from the previous release and is a semi-lively discussion on the movie. Badham gives some bit of trivia from locations to wardrobe.

Catching the Fever (52:36) - This five-part featurette takes us through Fever from its inception and instant popularity. It looks at the soundtrack that resurrected the Bee Gees’ career and features new interviews with the cast and crew (unfortunately, Travolta was absent, so here’s hoping for a 40th Anniversary). Given it’s now 30 years old, this was an impressive featurette that gives as much insight as possible.

Back to Bay Ridge (9:00) - Actor Joseph Cali, who played Joey in Fever, guides us on a tour in Brooklyn to the famous places where the movie was shot. It is interesting seeing how things have changed over the years but how some places still remain the same.

Dance Like Travolta (9:48) - A throw away feature has John Cassese (aka The Dance Doctor) teach the viewers on how to dance like Travolta in Fever. Considering I’m someone with two left feet, I passed on this.

The last two features include a Fever Challenge, which is just another dance game, and 70’s Discopedia, a trivia track.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Saturday Night Fever is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 1.78 OAR, and is vastly different from the previous release. Overall, it’s a mixed bag as the film has been cleaned up and where there were some framing issues (the other version squished the picture vertically), yet skin tones during certain scenes were way too red. You can check out a couple screen comparisons here and here. While watching the movie, however, it wasn’t too bad, but comparing them side by side, it is obvious.

I didn’t do a comparison for the Dolby 5.1 track, but this one sounded fine. As with older movies, dialogue is delegated to the center speaker and at times can sound muffled. The music, the heart and soul, sounds very good, though.



.::OVERALL::.

Is this “30th Anniversary” version better than the “25th”? In some ways, yes. The extra featurettes are good and despite some skin tone issues with this new transfer, it is still better than the older one. Since Paramount didn’t port over those deleted scenes, if you own the old version, hang on to it and just pick this one up on sale. Of course, the movie is well worth it if you still don’t have it in your collection.