From the moment John Travolta strutted down a Brooklyn street to "Stayin' Alive" at the beginning of Saturday Night Fever (1977), music movies and pop culture were irrevocably changed. Unlike subsequent music blockbusters like Grease (1978) and Footloose (1984), Fever's depiction of one youth's escape at the local disco and tentative dreams for a better life in Manhattan astutely balanced galvanizing dance numbers with a gritty sense of contemporary economic malaise. Dance numbers, the Bee Gees soundtrack, and Travolta's white-suited presence, however, were the marketing hooks. With the release of Bee Gees singles timed to sell the movie and the movie becoming an ad for the soundtrack, Fever set the standard for marketing synergy several years before MTV, as the soundtrack became one of the best-selling albums of all-time and the film grossed over 100 million dollars. The once-underground disco movement turned into a late-'70s mainstream pop phenomenon; and TV idol Travolta, bolstered by an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, became a movie superstar and cultural emblem of the 1970s. While Travolta's career, like disco, suffered in the 1980s, his status was restored in the 1990s -- aided, no doubt, by '90s nostalgia for the '70s.
by Lucia Bozzola review