Boomers, dust off your boogie shoes and celebrate the 40thth anniversary of Saturday Night Fever, the movie and soundtrack that defined the 1970s disco era.
The anniversary of the 1977 film, which lit a disco inferno across the country, is sparking new interest, as is its music. Forty years ago, moviegoers flocked to theaters to see John Travolta as Brooklyn rebel Tony Manero strut his stuff across the dance floor to the beat of the Bee Gees’ smash hits, including “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever.” Travolta and costars Karen Lynn Gorney and Donna Pescow became disco sensations, as did the Bee Gees — brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb — who wrote most of the soundtrack. (Maurice Gibb died in 2003 and Robin Gibb in 2012.)
The track, released before the movie, was the top selling album in history until Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was released six years later.
Want to see the flick again? A 40th-anniversary Blu-ray edition of director John Badham’s classic, which includes commentary by Badham and deleted scenes, will be released May 2. And the director’s cut will be shown in approximately 700 select theaters nationwide May 7 and 10 (fathomevents.com).
Badham told Yahoo Movies that among the new scenes, there’s one toward the end “where Tony’s dad gets his job back, and he and his mom are really excited, jumping around in the kitchen and carrying on. Meanwhile, Travolta is just kind of standing in the corner sneering at this whole thing. It’s kind of wonderful because there is this happy moment in their lives, and he’s just really kind of cynical about the whole thing.”
Even the Library of Congress is getting the Fever. Through May 6, the Washington institution is exploring disco’s influence on popular music, dance and fashion via a series of events, called Bibliodiscotheque. Film screenings, performances and interviews with notables such as Project Runway’s Tim Gunn are among the offerings. Featured movies include Donna Summer: Live and More … Encore; ABBA: The Movie; and, of course, Saturday Night Fever.
Video: 'Saturday Night Fever' 40th Anniversary Supercut - From John Travolta’s strut to his iconic pose, "Saturday Night Fever" has remained a cultural touchstone for 40 years.
Capping off the events is a disco dance party at the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building with disco icon Gloria Gaynor singing her hit “I Will Survive” in the Great Hall. The song is in the National Recording Registry, part of the collection of sound recordings that are kept at the Library of Congress and that are considered “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.”
This is the first time the library has paid tribute to one specific music genre with this sort of programming, Bryonna Head, a public affairs assistant at the library, told The Washington Post. “This is a celebration of an era that changed American culture forever,” Head said. “This celebration is not just for [Gaynor], but disco culture in general, and Ms. Gaynor just so happens to be the perfect partner for us to bring this popular era to life at the library.”
Although most Bibliodiscotheque events are sold out, free tickets are still available for some film screenings and lectures at eventbrite.com. Or to celebrate disco, just pop in a Saturday Night Fever DVD and do the Hustle in your living room for old times’ sake.
Other events are also planned across the country to mark the 40th anniversary, including a throwback concert on July 29 at the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk in New York featuring more than a dozen disco acts. Guests include Yvonne Elliman (“If I Can’t Have You”), Trammps (“Disco Inferno”), and Tavares (“More Than a Woman”).
Even 40 years later, the legacy of Saturday Night Fever is definitely stayin’ alive.