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The years have endowed Saturday Night Fever with a powerful, elegiac quality since its explosive release in 1977. It was the must-see movie for a whole generation of adolescents, sparking controversy for rough language and clumsily realistic sex scenes which took teen cinema irrevocably into a new age. And of course, it revived the career of the Bee Gees to stratospheric heights, thanks to a justifiably legendary soundtrack which now embodies the disco age. But Saturday Night Fever was always more than a disco movie. Tony Manero is an Italian youth from Brooklyn straining at the leash to escape a life defined by his family, blue collar job and his gang. Disco provides the medium for him to break free.
It was the snake-hipped dance routines which made John Travolta an immediate sex symbol. But seen today, his performance as Tony is compelling: rough-hewn, certainly, but complex and true, anticipating the fine screen actor he would be recognised as 20 years later. Scenes of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge, representing Tony's route to a bigger world, now have an added poignancy, adding to Saturday Night Fever's evocative power. It's a bittersweet classic.