Saturday Night Fever (1977) - 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition [Blu-ray]
|Paramount || R - 119 minutes - $29.99 || May 5, 2009|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-05-03|
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
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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).
All features have been ported over from the “30th Anniversary Edition” release.
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.
The Blu-ray also has a bookmark feature.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
For a now 32-year old movie, Saturday Night Fever doesn’t look too bad on Blu-ray with a 1080p high-definition transfer (probably mastered from the 30th Anniversary DVD release) on a 25GB Blu-ray disc. Black levels look great while skin tones never are oversaturated. During the dance sequences at the disco club, colors pop out very nicely. You’re not going to get a perfect HD picture, but it is a solid one.
The Dolby TrueHD audio sounds great which is pretty much a must for a music-centric film such as this. Bee Gees music comes through every channel equally and effectively without blaring while dialogue is, for the most part, crisp and clear.
Saturday Night Fever is a movie that transcends time. It’s a movie that no matter how old you are, you can relate in one way or another. Of course, it also helps that it features probably one of the best soundtracks ever released and a fantastic performance by a young John Travolta in his starring feature debut. This Blu-ray release may just be a replica of the DVD that came out 2 years ago, but the picture and audio are a nice upgrade and given the right price might be worth picking up at some point.