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SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER ANALYSIS BY VALERIA CAPELLARO
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER
Directed by John Badham Produced by Robert Stigwood Written by Norman Wexler Based on ‘Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night’, by Nick Cohn. 1977 Cast: John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, Barry Miller, Donna Pescow,
Martin Sharak, Fran Drescher
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER
The movie follows the story of Tony Manero, an American Italian living in Brooklin with his family. His father was a construction worker, but was left unemployed. Tony has to provide for his entire family. His Brother, Frank Jr (Martin Shakar) was a priest, but decided to leave the Church. The character is not developed in the movie, so we don’t know the precise reason. Every Saturday night, Tony and his friends go to dance at 2001 Odyssey. There Tony meets Stephanie Mangano (Karen Lynn Gorney), a secretary in Manhattan and a good, untrained dancer like himself. They win a dancing contest, but Tony refuses the prize, because a Puerto Rican couple was better, according to him. That same night, Bobby (Barry Miller) commits suicide. In the morning, Tony asks Stephanie to try and be friends.
Almost all characters have dark hair and dark eyes, except for Tony (John Travolta), whose eyes are blue.
He wears his hair gelled back, and takes particular care in brushing them. His mother’s hair are rolled up in curlers when we are introduced to her character.
Tony and his friends usually wear a suit, a colourful shirt, a leather jacket, leather shoes, and a golden crucifix necklace, as well as golden rings.
Tony wears a sort of apron/bib not to speckle his shirt.
Women in the house wear an apron, and to the dance club they usually wear dresses.
Annette wears pants when she goes to practice with Tony, while Stephanie wears a leotard.
FOOD In the opening scene, Tony eats a slice of pizza while walking. I've got my shirt on.
So? I don't want to get anything on it. You don't have to worry. Your mother's spaghetti sauce doesn't drip or taste.
GENDER The boundaries between man and woman are extremely clear in this movie. The man is the breadwinner, while the woman must stay at home and fix him dinner. In that case, a girl will be a ‘‘nice girl’’, otherwise she would be a ‘’cunt’’. Are you a nice girl or a cunt? I don't know. Both? You can't be both. A girl has to decide early on what she's going to be. The dichotomy nice girl-cunt is what drives Annette towards the gang rape in the car towards the end of the movie. After it, Tony will tell her: ‘‘Are you proud of yourself, Annette? Is that what you wanted? Good. Now you're a cunt.’’
The main difference between Stephanie and Annette is that the latter is a working-class Brooklyn woman, whose aim in life is to get married, or so it appears to Tony: ‘‘You only talked about your married sister. And your other married sister. And your third married sister. I felt that you just wanted to be a married sister.’’
Stephanie, on the contrary, is a class climber, she represents Manhattan and upward mobility.
GENDER – ROMEO / LATIN LOVER
Tony represents the stereotype of the Latin Lover, the narcissistic and chauvinistic young man, who only cares about his looks and how many girls he can have. He spends a lot of time getting ready for going to the dance club, especially he is obsessed with his hair.
GENDER – ROMEO / LATIN LOVER
Tony also represents the boy/man who is capable of doing everything, who is ‘Always together’, to quote his friend Bobby. He is good at everything he does, he is adored by the clients and by his employer, everyone at the dance club knows him and recognizes his ability as a dancer.
Family is considered the fundamental institution for Italian Americans. Although they might seem close, the Manero family components are shown as verbally abusive and always fighting with each other.
‘‘They turn you into what they wish at the time.’’ (Frank). The wishes and desires of his mother of having at least a son in the Church have made Frank try priestdom, but it’s not what he wants for his life.
RELIGION The references to religion are mainly connected to Tony’s Brother, Father Frank. He was a priest, but decides to leave the Church for a non-better-specified reason. However, he still uses religious metaphors: ‘‘You guys have a Moses effect! The crowd parts like the Red Sea.’’ Tony’s mom is the most pious and religios character, she crosses herself every time she mentions her son Frank, and goes to Church almost daily, although her faith appears to be shallow: ‘‘You’re turning God into a telephone operator’’ Almost everyone wears a chain with a crucifix. There are references to the Pope, who is seen as a powerful entity: ‘‘I heard the Pope can give a special... dispensation.’’ (Bobby)
The setting is Brooklyn, New York, during the 1970s, where many different ethnic groups Several scenes take place near or on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, that connects Brooklyn and Staten Island. Brooklyn was divided in neighbourhoods, according to the nationality of the inhabitants. Naturally, another important location is the dance club, 2001 Odyssey.
MUSIC AND DANCES
The music playing is often the music the characters are listening or dancing to.
There is no singing, like in other contemporary musicals (Grease) They dance in the club Odyssey 2001, using very difficult and
complicated dance moves. Stephanie has probably received a basic training in ballet, which
results in her looking a bit snobbish.
When Tony walks he is almost dancing. All Italian characters tend to do wide gestures. Annette flips Tony of at the dance club.
ITALIAN AMERICAN REFERENCES
In Tony’s room there is a Rocky poster. A girl asks Tony for a kiss and mistakes him for Al Pacino. Tony mentions a guy buried in cement (something vaguely related
Tony’s parents have a strong accent. The youngest people have a slightly less strong accent. Stephanie has a snobbish, probably fake, accent.
CODE MIXING AND CODE SWITCHING
There is no instance of code switching.
The instances of code mixing regard proper names, food, or insults. «'sto cazzo, man!»
The grandmother speaks only in Italian. «Basta! Mangia, mangia!»
THANK YOU FOR THE ATTENTION