Filmsite Movie Review
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
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Plot Synopsis (continued)

Tony's Abusive Relationship with Annette:

When they returned to the table after dancing, Tony rudely dismissed Annette who stomped off. Another of his many female admirers, named Doreen (Denny Dillon), came up to Tony and asked to wipe his sweaty forehead, but he soon tired of her attentiveness, when Joey called out: "Hey, Doreen, it ain't no blow-job." As a gesture of "charity," Tony agreed to dance with Doreen, while one of his friends yelled: "Get your head out of his belt, there, girl."

While Tony complained to the DJ/club owner (Monti Rock III) about his dislike of a musical selection, he caught a glimpse of another very skilled and talented new club dancer in a white dress, Stephanie Mangano (Karen Lynn Gorney), who was enjoying the up-tempo jazzy music. As Tony stood to the side and watched, he quickly became impressed by her ("She can dance!"). She was very unlike any of his other female conquests in Bay Ridge - she was more formal and elegant, reserved, proud and self-assured, and professional. Tony's upward-striving class aspirations were soon to be reflected in his choice of dance partners.

In the bar-lounge area of the club away from the dance floor, to the background tune of the Bee Gees' "If I Can't Have You" (performed by Yvonne Elliman), Tony sat with Annette. He was physically placed between her on his right, and his bar stripper friend Penny on stage to his left. She suggested to Tony that the two of them partner up for the Odyssey's upcoming dance competition with double the prize money. Tony's troubled character, with flashes of racism, immaturity, obnoxiousness, and misogyny, was evident in his frequent sexual abuse and disregard for Annette. He agreed that they could be dance partners together, although they would have to practice often. However, he rejected her many offers when she wanted to go steady and have sex with him: "It don't mean dating, it don't mean socializing, it means practice." He admitted why he had only had one date with Annette:

Annette, the whole time, you talked about your married sister. And then, you was talkin' about your other married sister. And then, your third married sister. I got the idea that all you was interested in was being a married sister yourself. I got bored with it.

Tony much preferred to lustfully gaze at the naked stripper to his left instead of the desperate and dejected Annette next to him. Annette felt she had made a step forward by becoming Tony's dance partner, and she made a self-satisfactory smile after possibly comparing her own fuller bust to the stripper's breasts.

Tony - The Central Figure at the Club:

The two were interrupted by Joey, who alerted Tony to the fact that Double J. was having sex with an anonymous female in the back-seat of Bobby's car: "Hey Tony, Double J's been in the car 25 minutes with some chick!...So, I can't get the selfish prick out!" Tony was exasperated: "These guys can't do nothing without me, you know that?" Tony noted to Joey as they walked to the car that he regarded dancing as a sacramental discipline that he had perfected into an art form, rather than as a mating ritual: "You make it with some of these chicks, they think you gotta dance with 'em" - a reversal of the normal sexual dynamic between males and females.

Outside by the parked car, Double J. begged for more time in the back seat so his sex partner could orgasm: ("She ain't come yet"). Shortly later, the female moaned and shouted out: "Harder! I'm coming! I'm coming!" - followed by Double J's after-the-fact question: "What did you say your name was?"

One of the film's many dance highlights was the next sequence - Tony's line dancing to the tune of the Bee Gees' "Night Fever" while a fog machine filled the multi-colored, Plexiglass dance floor with smoke:

Listen to the ground There is movement all around
There is somethin' going down And I can feel it
On the waves of the air There is dancin' out there
It's somethin' we can't share We can't steal it

That sweet city woman She moved through the light
Controlling my mind and my soul
When you reach out for me, yeah And the feelin' is right

Then I get night fever, night fever
We know how to do it
Gimme that night fever, night fever
We know how to show it.

Here I am Prayin' for this moment to last
Livin' on the music so fine
Borne on the wind Makin' it mine

Back to Reality:

The next morning, Tony awoke after a late night of dancing. He sat up in bed, adjusted his crotch through his skimpy black briefs, and then while staring into his mirror, he reminded himself of how he resembled his idol Al Pacino. In the hallway, he shocked his Grandmother by posing as Pacino shouting out: "Al Pacino! Attica! Attica! Attica!"

[Note: A similar line was spoken in director Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon (1975) by Pacino (as bank robber Sonny Wortzik), who directed his chant to reporters and officers of the NYPD gathered outside during a bank hostage crisis stand-off, to inspire them to cheer him on. It was a reference to the 1971 Attica Prison Riot in western New York, when the prisoners took control of the prison.]

In the next scene after watching his friends shooting baskets, Tony was returned to reality and the fact that he was broke and his life was shallow and meaningless, and leading to a dead-end. He realized that all he lived for was a measly paycheck to support his habit of spending money to get "high" dancing on the weekends at the Odyssey: "You got 20, 30 bucks to blow twice a week?" At a used car lot, he also heard his buddies talking about how it was " a dog-eat-dog world" and "Everybody's out for what they can get....They got it all locked up. Ain't nobody gonna give ya a's every man for himself. It's a stinkin' rat race."

Later at his hardware-store job, Tony was shocked that his boss had actually given him a raise. Later after dinner in his home, however, his father rebuked him for the small increase in his weekly pay amounting to $4 dollars. Tony mentioned how he had so few accomplishments in life besides his dancing prowess:

Frank, Sr.: Four dollars? S--t. You know what four dollars buys today? It don't even buy three dollars!
Tony: I don't see nobody givin' you a raise down at Unemployment.
Frank Sr: Four dollars? S--t!
Tony: I knew you'd piss on it. Go on, just piss on it, right? A raise says, like, you're good, you know what I mean? You know how many times somebody told me I was good in my life? Two. Two. Twice. Two f--kin' times, this raise today and dancin', dancin' at the disco. You sure as f--k never did. Asshole!

Tony's Further Misogyny Toward His Dance Partner Annette:

Annette was waiting outside in the cold for Tony to appear at the Phillips Dance Studio, and when he arrived, she literally propositioned him. She again hinted that she would make love with him, but he kept refusing her sexual advances. It was another opportunity for him to sexually demean her, and reveal his crude and misogynistic attitudes toward her. He provided her with an unwinnable dichotomous choice - be a "nice girl" or a "cunt":

Annette: Maybe I'll make it with you....It's time we went out. You told me you wanted to do it. You told me how horny a man gets when he's 19, how much his balls ache morning, noon and night, six days a week, sometimes seven, if he don't get it.
Tony: How do you remember those things? Look, Annette, we're gonna be spendin' a lot of time together, you know, rehearsin', practicin', what-not. If we was ballin', it would be like we was goin' together. And I won't be goin' with you. Look, I mean, what are you, anyway? You a nice girl or you a cunt?
Annette: I don't know. Both?
Tony: You can't be both. I mean, that's a thing a girl's gotta decide early on. You gotta decide whether you're gonna be a nice girl or a cunt.

As they entered the downstairs studio, the studio's owner Pete (Bert Michaels), a self-proclaimed sexual predator who gave Tony free studio time in exchange for customer referrals, bragged to Tony that he was "steady at 65%" - as Tony explained to Annette: "He scores with 65% of the chicks that come in here."

After a short practice session in the studio, Tony dismissed Annette, and then approached toward Stephanie, the dancer from the club who was practicing in another room, but she was cold and stand-offish toward him: ("Look, would you - would you mind just going away, okay?...Yeah, I wanna be by myself now, you know?"). He reminded her that they had briefly exchanged glances at the club earlier.

[Note: The persistent Tony was completely clueless that he was being rejected by Stephanie in the same way that he was rejecting Annette.]

She was unlike other females who usually deferred to him. To retaliate, he started his normal routine of name-calling: ("You know what you are? I'm gonna tell you what you are"), but she snapped back: "I bet it begins with a "C," Mr. P." He walked off as he demeaned her: "I know the type, I know the type."

Tony's Shattered Image of His Older Brother:

When Tony returned home later, he discovered his somber mother, father, and Grandmother in the living room. Upstairs in his bedroom, he spoke to his older brother Frank, Jr., and learned that their parents were "in shock" and "ashamed" that Frank was leaving his church position and the priesthood. Frank described how he hadn't been fired, but had voluntarily quit, and off-handedly mentioned his decision might be related to his vows of celibacy. [Note: It was entirely possible that Frank's hidden homosexuality was the reason for his doubts about his faith.] But then as they shared Tony's bedroom for the night, he explained his real reasoning:

One day, you look at a crucifix, and all you see is a man dying on a cross. But that's only a backdrop to something else. Mama and Papa, their dreams of pious glory. They turn you into what they wish at a time. You can't defend yourself against their fantasies. All I ever really had any belief in was their image of me as a priest. That's all.

Tony suddenly realized that the 'idealized' view of his brother had been shattered:

Tony: Guess we're gonna have to take your picture down from the mantle. Know what's weird? Like, I always felt like I was the s--t of the family, and you was always, like, perfect.
Frank, Jr.: Now that I'm the disgrace to the family, I'm not so perfect anymore. So, maybe you're not s--t anymore.
Tony: Yeah, maybe if you ain't so good, I ain't so bad, you know?

Tony's Growing Relationship with Stephanie Mangano:

Now feeling energized and redeemed, the next day, Tony went to look up Stephanie at the dance studio. He interrupted Pete who was teaching a group of seniors to dance, to the tune of "Disco Duck." Pete attempted to warn Tony: "That one's practicing to be a bitch."

Tony found Stephanie in an adjoining dance room, and was finally able to have a conversation with her. After showing off some cocky dance moves of his own, Tony asked her for a coffee-date (although she was a tea-drinker), complimented her on her dancing, and suggested that they could be "a dynamite team together" as dance partners for the upcoming Odyssey dance competition. At twenty years of age, one year older than Tony, she didn't want to socially fraternize with him because of their socio-cultural and emotional differences, their six-month age difference, his class-lessness, his small-minded lack of direction in life, and his awkwardness and social immaturity.

There's a world of difference between us, you know? Not just chronologically, but, uh, emotionally, culturally, physically, every which way. And this world would get much bigger and much worse with every passing week.

As they walked to a local diner-restaurant, she immediately (and snobbishly) compared her own superior work environment in Manhattan to their lower-class neighborhood in Bay Ridge:

See, look, where I work, the people are very remarkable. They're not like these here Bay Ridge people at all.

Tony tried to defend his hometown: "It ain't like a hellhole or nothin'." Just across the bridge, she praised her whole other world that was within her reach:

Just right over there, right across the river, everything is different, completely different. It's beautiful, just beautiful. The people are beautiful, offices are beautiful.

As they seated themselves in the restaurant, he revealed his lower-class roots when he vainly tried to provide an astute observation about director Franco Zefferelli's film version of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet (1968): "You know what? What I never understood about that Romeo and Juliet, I never understood why Romeo, he took the poison so quick, you know? I feel like he could have waited or somethin'."

During their conversation, Stephanie was clearly more independent-minded, cool-headed, upward-striving, connected and intelligent than all of his previous female friends. She told how she was working her way up in a show business PR agency in Manhattan, and recently lunched with celebrities: "I had business lunches with Eric Clapton at La Cote Basque and Cat Stevens at Le Madrigal." Tony responded: "Far out," but was unaware of both the restaurants and the artists. She ordered tea (with lemon) - the favored drink of female executives in her office, while Tony ordered a working-class meal of a cheeseburger with coffee. Tony had also never heard of the esteemed English actor Laurence Olivier ("the greatest actor in the whole world"), until Stephanie mentioned that he advertised Polaroid cameras on television. Tony's jealousy was aroused when Stephanie mentioned how she did some errands for Olivier who then showered her with compliments in the office:

So, he goes around, he tells everybody in the entire office, he says I'm the brightest, I'm the most vivacious thing in the entire office he's seen in years.

She saw how there was an immense gulf between the two of them: "Well, I just think maybe you can't handle hearing about a kind of life that is so completely different than yours....Yes, I mean better, sure, it's better." She had aspirations to move to Manhattan into her own apartment, and leave her old life behind:

I mean, I'm out of this scene almost completely, you know, this Bay Ridge scene. I'm moving into Manhattan. I'm getting my own apartment. I'm changing. I'm really changing as a person, and I'm growing. You know what I mean? Nobody has any idea how much I'm growing.

Tony persisted in being comical and non-serious -- "Why don't you go on a diet?" She sighed, and then after claiming: "I like you," she offered to partner with him for the club's city-wide dance contest, although he had already promised to pair up with Annette and had practiced with her. She accepted his offer, but wanted to keep him at arm's length and only remain professional:

We could just dance together and nothing more. Nothing personal...I don't wantcha comin' on to me...Because I don't date guys like you anymore, for one thing. You're too young, you haven't got any class, and, yeah, I'm sick of jerk-off guys ain't got their s--t together!

With his mouth full of food as he talked, he told her about his lowly background and employment in a paint store. She was dismissive, and correctly pegged his entire life: "You probably live with your family, you hang out with your buddies, and on Saturday night you go, you blow it all off at 2001, right?" She harshly told him:

You're a cliche. You're nowhere on your way to no place.

Tony took cues from the ambitious-sounding Stephanie, but bluntly admitted that he never thought about going to college and was not very determined to succeed. As they left the restaurant, he described how he was attempting to move beyond the club and dancing, now that he was getting older. He had aspirations to get a "high" elsewhere because the thrill he acquired from dancing was "short-lived":

The thing is the 'high' I get at 2001 is just dancing, it's not being the best or nothing like that. The only thing is that I would like to get that 'high' someplace else in my life. You know?...I don't know where. I don't know. Someplace. You see, dancin' - it can't last forever, it's a short-lived kinda thing. But I'm getting older, you know.

He offered to walk her home, but she declined and reiterated: "Nothing personal, right?"

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