Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saturday Night Fever: Director's Cut Blu-ray Disc Review.

Saturday Night Fever is one of the most influential films of the latter half of the 20th century. Adapted from a story by Nik Cohn, Saturday Night Fever perfectly captures an era in American pop culture like a time capsule and has spawned many imitators including the lackluster sequel Staying Alive and affected a generation of youth who would emulate the basic look and attitude of Travolta’s “Tony Manero” character for at least a decade after the film’s release. In addition to various television programs like Dance Fever, which was hosted by Saturday Night Fever Choreographer Deney Terrio, and Solid Gold as well,  the effect of Saturday Night Fever has also carried over into contemporary cinema. For example, in many ways the film Boogie Nights is as a paradigm at least partially is the same archetypal story as Saturday Night Fever. Both characters in both films are imperfect protagonists with one gift that sets them apart from their environment and enables them to transcend above their dysfunctional family life. Both aspire to be in a higher social circle, but cannot hide the ignorance from their upbringing. Both characters go through a right of passage or trial by fire whether it is a failed attempt at rescuing a friend from a watery grave at the edge of one of the world’s longest suspension bridges or a failed drug deal attempt where one witnesses the shooting death or another. At the end our protagonist returns to their new home whether it be a surrogate family within the early Adult Film Industry or a quasi brother-sister like relationship with the hope to start over as a wiser person using their God given talent regardless of what that might be and both endings are also somewhat ambiguous as to what the future of our protagonist will be because in neither case is their any certainty that just because they are wiser, they will use that wisdom in the future.

I grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and one of the things I love about Saturday Night Fever is identifying the various spots where the film was shot on location and to see how they string things together as well as what stores still exist and what has changed. The film was shot mostly in the areas of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst Brooklyn as well as a bit in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. The hardware store where the character of “Tony Manero” worked was just two blocks from where I lived. That hardware store is now a Service Star. The White Castles where we see the characters eat in has been torn down and a medical building now stands in its place. 86 Street where the elevated subway line runs on top has had many changes in terms of the business that exist there, but to this day on a Saturday night one can spot young guys and girls cruising up and down the street looking for a good time. The dance club where the characters frequent eventually became a gay dance club where I am told the original light up floor made famous by Travolta’s dancing scenes still existed. The club like the White Castles no longer exist. I could go on, but the point is that if you have ever lived in Brooklyn or still do then I think you will agree that there is definitely a certain nostalgia factor that comes with Saturday Night Fever and yet while the film is a time capsule, the story is still as relevant today as it was in 1977. That is why I think Saturday Night Fever has stood the test of time and become a timeless motion picture onto itself.

Paramount Home Entertainment has done an excellent job with this 40th Anniversary Blu-ray Disc Edition that features both the unrated Director's Cut and the R-rated Theatrical Cut with a clear widescreen (1.85:1) aspect ratio transfer. The picture is free from specks and scratches and the image quality is very solid with no color bleeding or grain apparent. The English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround Soundtrack is well mixed where not only the music, but indeed the voices and sound effects have all been utilized to create the optimum listening experience for the home. French and Portuguese Language Dolby Digital 5.1 Soundtracks and a Spanish Language Mono Soundtrack along with English Subtitles and English Subtitles for the deaf and  hearing impaired and French, Portuguese and Spanish Language Subtitles are encoded as options for the feature film presentation. Director John Badham gives a down to earth and screen specific feature length audio commentary for the theatrical cut as well.

Extras from the Thirtieth Anniversary release have been carried over and most are in full HD. There is a multi-part documentary entitled Catching The Fever (52:39) or can be viewed in separate segments. Back To Bay Ridge gives a short tour of many of the locations used in the film (8:01). There is also a Dance Like Travolta demonstration too (9:50). In addition to these there is the optional interactive Discopedia Track as well as and interactive dance challenge (4:00). One deleted scene is also included (1:32) because the other scenes included at least in part were taken from the PG version of the film as well scenes broadcast in the over the air network TV version too. 

Saturday Night Fever: Director's Cut is available now on Blu-ray Disc and DVD, but sold separately at retailers on and offline courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment.

© Copyright 2017 By Mark A. Rivera.
All Rights Reserved.