In the words of actor Barry Miller, no one involved with “Saturday Night Fever” deliberately set out to make a “kitsch Smithsonian time capsule of bell-bottoms, glitter balls and platform shoes.” For all the ridicule it has occasioned and the parodies it has inspired, John Badham’s 1977 movie remains a zesty, hugely enjoyable saga of young stardom and working-class ambition, lovingly celebrated here for the way it both captured and electrified disco culture, its iconic soundtrack and John Travolta’s still-winning breakout performance.
Travolta himself is regrettably absent from the talking heads, which include the other principal thesps, Badham, producer Robert Stigwood and Bee Gees brothers Barry and Robin Gibb, whose songs helped make the film’s soundtrack a gold-plated phenomenon. What gives these interviews their charm is that no one pretends to have anticipated the film’s enormous popularity — certainly not costume designer Patrizia von Brandenstein, who seems as bewildered as she is proud to have generated a “Fever” fashion craze.
Nostalgic viewers will have a ball (a disco ball, that is) with the informative segments on the ’70s nightclub scene and Studio 54 in particular, as well as reminiscences on the era by Monti Rock III (who played the deejay in the film). Disc also includes a pair of lessons on how to dance like Travolta, one of them taught by celebrity dance instructor John Cassese, the other a color-coded stepping game that “Dance Dance Revolution” aficionados won’t find especially taxing.
Enhancements to the film itself include an affectionate Badham commentary track and pop-up trivia.