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Saturday Night Fever was released in 1977, joining the ranks of great movies that feature dance as a plot line such as the ballerina fairytale The Red Shoes, or the string of Fred Astaire movies with Ginger Rogers (Top Hat, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, and more) and without (Easter Parade, with a post-Oz Judy Garland). This genre also has plenty of popular descendants like Dirty Dancing, Footloose, Save the Last Dance, and Step Up. SNF is both a worthy successor to the older films and a proud forebear of those that followed in its dance steps.
Starring John Travolta before he had really made his mark (post-Kotter, pre-Grease), the story is as old as time: boy wants to escape his mundane job and dramatic family life through dance and pursue the woman of his dreams, who of course is bad for him, along the way. Plus, there is an obligatory Brooklyn v. Staten Island rivalry thrown in for good measure.
The Bee Gees had fallen into a funk, and not the good kind, in the early 1970s. With help from disco and falsetto, the band had found a new groove. Being a major part of the SNF soundtrack – they composed and/or performed eight of its 17 songs – helped breathe new life into their career. The soundtrack contributed three of their six consecutive number-one singles to the Bee Gees streak, at the time tying the Beatles’ record for the most in the United States.
The soundtrack helped the Bee Gees win five Grammys, and the Bee Gees were able to keep up the momentum from this success until the end of the disco era. By the end of the ’70s, disco fever had burned itself out.
Although some of the themes and dialogue from the movie don’t hold up, the songs remain essential for those times when you want to put on your boogie shoes.
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