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

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Title: Saturday Night Fever: Director's Cut

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :4stars:

HTS Overall Score:80

“Saturday Night Fever” is arguably John Travolta’s breakout role. Some have argued that it was 1976’s “Carrie”, while others say that “Grease” was the role that got him famous. I’m in the middle and argue that “Saturday Night Fever” was the real breakout for the dancing boy. “Grease” was the movie that had every girl swooning over Travolta in 1978, but 1977 was the year that really got him noticed enough to GET him the role in “Grease”. I was always one of those kids who thought my parents watching “Saturday Night Fever” were simply crazy, as it was a cheesy 70s drama about a boy using dancing to numb the pain of his bleak existence. However, as I got older I started to appreciate the movie for what it was. A dated classic that dug into some deep issues while keeping very much in tune with the late 70s and disco craze that was sweeping the nation. The movie has held up a little less today than it did even 15 years ago, but the movie has gained a cult following and title as a true cinematic classic for a reason. It speaks to the pain and sorrows of teenagers everywhere, even if they can’t relate to the 1970s vernacular or over the top Italian family life.

Paramount put this classic out for its 32nd anniversary with a fairly bland looking/sounding Blu-ray release, and fans have been BEGGING for a special edition and the proper treatment the film has deserved for quite some time now. Every time the movie was re-release we would get hopeful that the video and audio would get an upgrade, but were let down with simple repackagings (I think there were 4 or 5 releases total so far of the same disc). HOWEVER, this time Paramount has listened to the fans and given us a brand new 4K master, an upgraded and tweaked audio mix, and a director’s cut that adds an additional 3 minutes of footage to the run time as well as the original theatrical cut.

Tony Manero (John Travolta) is cock of the walk in San Francisco. He talks the talk, walks the walk, dances with every pretty girl he meets and lives for the weekend. There he can let loose and dance his heart out and be the gregarious guy that he wants to be. However, on the inside he’s a struggling teen who just wants something better for his life. He comes home to a father who’s out of work and takes out his frustrations on his children. His mother is verbally abused by him as well and Tony has to watch as his older brother his hailed as the “perfect child” while he is yelled at and neglected. Not to mention that he’s working a dead-end job at a local hardware store with no future in sight. So naturally the one thing that Tony can do right (dancing) is where he gains his sense of self-worth. Well, that and sleeping with every pretty girl that catches his eye on the dance floor.

With an upcoming dance competition coming up Tony agrees to work with his friend Annette (Donna Pesco, who wants to be a little bit MORE than just a friend) toward the competition, but when he spies Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney), the fickle boy decides to dump Annette and work with the new girl instead. As the dance competition comes closer and closer Tony and his friends make some rash decisions and Tony desperately tries to get closer to his dance partner while Annette tries her best to worm herself back into Tony’s life.

“Saturday Night Fever” is not a light and fluffy movie like “Grease”. Sure there’s singing and dancing, but it’s more a coming of age story for Tony and his friends. Their miserable lives are bearing down on them and dancing the disco craze is what gives the poor teens their escape from reality. A reality that seems to have little to offer them except living in the moment. Whether you love or hate disco, “Saturday Night Fever” is a hard movie to put down. The introduction of John Travolta as a serious actor was started here, and the coming of age tale for Stephanie, Annette, Tony and the rest of his gang all prove to be painfully real, as well as surprisingly hopeful at the same time.


Rated R for strong language, sexuality/nudity and some drug content

Video :4stars:
The original 2009 release of “Saturday Night Fever” has been out over 8 years and the transfer hasn’t aged that well at all. Well, it would be more accurate to say that it wasn’t that good to begin with. The master was in mediocre shape and the Blu-ray was just kind of “meh” on both the audio and video fronts. This new Director’s cut is taken from a 4K master that is redone from the original negatives, and looks a HEAP better than the disc I’ve been enjoying for the better part of a decade. Colors are warmer and brighter, and the film has a fantastic “1970’s” texture to it that is unmistakable. Skin tones are a little pasty and sometimes not as razor sharp as it COULD be, but this Blu-ray is definitely a very substantial upgrade from what we’ve had so far. Detail is excellent and clarity on screen is more than capable. Black levels in the neon colored clubs look good without any banding, and there’s only a few moments where grain spikes to an uncomfortable level. The negatives have been cleaned up a good bit, and there doesn’t appear to be any major speckling or print damage to mar up the image. While there’s sadly no 4K UHD release of the film, the Blu-ray is in no way a disappointment to fans.

Audio :4stars:
Usually most re-releases of films get a kick in the pants in terms of the video, but the audio is 9 times out of 10 just the same mix. Paramount has said that the track has had some “improvements”, but there have been no actual details on WHAT they did to the track. All I can say is that it is distinctly different (and better) than the old 2009 TrueHD 5.1 mix. The music by the Bee Gees feels richer and fuller, with a more authority and texture than ever before. I always felt the 2009’s mix was a bit thin, but that anomaly seems to have been fixed as the track shows some great special sensitivity and the bass response appears to a bit cleaner and filled with more depth. Vocals are crisp and clean and while sometimes the Travolta bad boy accent can be a bit hard to hear some time, everything just flows cleanly with the 1970’s disco music that comes from one end of the track to the other. When the music isn’t blaring the mix can be a bit front heavy, but once that disco music kicks it up a notch all 6 speakers are blasting with full power behind them.

Extras :4stars:

• Director's Cut
• Theatrical Cut
• Audio Commentary by director John Badham (Theatrical Version Only)
• '70s Discopedia (Theatrical Version Only)
• Catching the Fever
• Back to Bay Ridge
• Dance Like Travolta with John Cassese
• Fever Challenge!
• Deleted Scenes

Overall: :4stars:
“Saturday Night Fever” is a classic that has maintained its cheesy, but influential, status throughout the last 40 years and still is a boat load of fun today. The film has been released and re-released using the same tired master, and finally Paramount has gotten around to giving it the full 4K master it deserves with a new Director’s cut for the fans. After A/Bing the new cut with the old cut there’s not a WHOLE lot of difference, but he 3 minutes of additional footage add in some scenes that are definitely worth checking out. The audio and video upgrade alone are well worth the purchase price, though, and the upgrade is worth it even if you’ve bought the original 2009 Blu-ray as well. Definitely recommended.

Additional Information:

Starring: John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, Barry Miller
Directed by: John Badham
Written by: Norman Wexler (Screenplay), Nik Cohn (Story)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French, Portuguese DD 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0 (theatrical only for non English language tracks)
Studio: Paramount
Rated: R
Runtime: 119 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 2nd, 2017

Buy Saturday Night Fever: Director's Cut On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

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