Saturday Night Fever Was A Time Capsule For The 70’s

Every decade seems to have a movie that captures perfectly the feeling and times of that era. the music, the clothes, the voice. We at Love Your Movies will be finding each decades perfect time capsule of a movie going back to the 60’s. We will however be beginning with the 70’s for a particular reason. The 60’s was in essence two decades in one. It has been said that the 60’s began in innocence and everything changed on a fateful day in November 1963 when John F. Kennedy was shot and the Vietnam war became an outspoken epidemic.

The 70’s was a time of party and excess. The vietnam war came to a close and a new genre of music rose to dizzying heights for the first time since Rock ‘N’ Roll busted through in the 50’s. So if one movie truly captured this and those who consider this time, “their generation”, what would it be? A more dramatic way to answer would be with a specific beat, but this is not an interactive blog yet and there is no podcast yet.

Saturday Night Fever captured post high school life without college in working class America. The film would make a household name out of John Travolta and at the same time make him a bigger film star than anything else could have done.

Saturday Night Fever was based on a short story out of the New Yorker magazine about a Brooklyn youth who works at a blue collar job whose life revolves around blowing off steam every saturday night at the local discotheque where he and his friends are the true kings and most popular.

Travolta brought Tony Manero to life with what may still be his best performance on screen, with all due respect to Pulp Fiction. Manero was the leader of a group of friends who, when they enter the 2001disco are known as “the faces”. Tony is hands down the ruler of the dance floor and the taste of every woman in the club. Events unfold that lead Tony to ponder his choices in associates and lifestyle. He begins to look to the future for a life that gives him any sense of fulfillment like he feels when he’s dancing.

With a soundtrack that still may be considered at the top of the heap after all these years, Saturday Night Fever created and revived a small culture of disco lovers and made disco the biggest and hottest trend in the world. Disco lifestyle became everything that represented cool. Studio 54 would not have existed without Saturday Night Fever. It was the true definition of a phenomenon. The polyester clothes, the perfect hair, the dance moves, everything was just so and couldn’t be replicated without it feeling cliche.

This is a time period I have only experienced through movies and television and stories of those that lived it. From all I’ve gathered and learned, Saturday Night Fever was what everyone remembers and thinks of when the 70’s are referenced. There were other cultures and fads like the rock music with bands like Skynyrd and Zeppelin and so on. But no other film captured such a period and lifestyle like Saturday Night Fever. It was a true time capsule if film ever made one. It was post vietnam life and showed how the youth were much rougher around the edges and let middle America experience how the youth was really living. There was nothing sugar coated in Fever and no subject was taboo, from drugs to suicide to rape. It was a glimpse into the youth that not everyone wanted to see.

No doubt when you hear a disco song on the radio be it K.C. and the Sunshine Band or whether is Barry Gibb’s signature falsetto voice, images flash in your head from huge afro hair styles to bell bottoms to Tony Manero’s iconic white suit. Regardless there is no question Saturday Night Fever screams 70’s and will always be associated with the decade.

11 thoughts on “Saturday Night Fever Was A Time Capsule For The 70’s”

  1. Good review. I agree with you that Travolta was excellent in Saturday Night Fever, but in my opinion, he gave his best performance in the Brian De Palma film Blow Out.

  2. Be careful using such a sweeping statement about this movie. Yes, many people love it, Tony Monero and John Travolta for it (me included) – and yes, SNF is a great and iconic snapshot of the times, but only really the late 70’s. All you said about it and those times is totally true – but it would be a mistake to dismiss many other important things about the 70’s to say SNF encapsulates it all.

  3. The music of the 70’s was a varied mix of styles. It had the leftover sounds of the late 60’s rock bands like the Guess Who, Credence Clearwater Revival, Chicago (Transit Authority), Blood, Sweat. and Tears among others. It saw the soft rock sounds of the Carpenters, America, and Bread. New groups shot to popularity like the Eagles and Doobey Brothers. But disco music while short lived in the decade will be forever embedded as the sound of the 70’s for those of us who lived and partied thru it. And the sound track of SNF and John Travolta’s stellar portrayal of Tony Manero will be forever linked to the disco era.

  4. Like Rubyrosa, I wouldn’t pick this as more than one snapshot of the era. All the President’s Men captures another part–I’m not sure I’d say that was definitive, but as someone who did live through the era, I wouldn’t reduce it to SNF or SNF’s milieu.

    1. I do understand that it doesn’t encapsulate the entire decade and that’s all it was like. Maybe i should have been more clear that it captures a culture and moment in time better than any other movie of the decade, in my opinion of course. Thanks so much for your comments and for reading I love all the feedback

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