H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Saturday Night Fever [Blu-ray]


(John Badham, 1977)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Robert Stigwood Organization (RSO) / Paramount Pictures

Video: Paramount Home Video



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:59:03.177

Disc Size: 44,291,656,524 bytes

Feature Size: 32,519,098,368 bytes

Average Bitrate: 36.42 Mbps

Chapters: 21

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 5th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



Dolby TrueHD Audio English 3389 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3389 kbps / 24-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps

Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / Dolby Surround



English, English (SDH), French, Portuguese, Spanish, none



• Commentary by director John Badham

Catching the Fever (Play All function)

• A 30-Year Legacy (15:24 in HD!)

• Making Soundtrack History (12:26 in HD!)

• Platforms and Polyester (10:36 in HD!)

• Deejays and Disco (10:18 in HD!)

• Spotlight on Travolta (3:36 in HD!)

• Back to Bay Ridge (9:01 in HD!)

Dance like Travolta with John Cassese (9:49 in HD!)

• Fever Challenge (4:01 in HD!)

• 70's Discopedia (Pop-ups with film)

• Three Deleted Scenes (3:36)





Description: Saturday Night Fever is one of those movies that comes along and seems to change the cultural temperature in a flash. After the movie's release in 1977, disco ruled the dance floors, and a blow-dried member of a TV-sitcom ensemble became the hottest star in the U.S. For all that, the story is conventional: a 19-year-old Italian American from Brooklyn, Tony Manero (John Travolta), works in a humble paint store and lives with his family. After dark, he becomes the polyester-clad stallion of the local nightclub; Tony's brother, a priest, observes that when Tony hits the dance floor, the crowd parts like the Red Sea before Moses. Director John Badham captures the electric connection between music and dance, and also the desperation that lies beneath Tony's ambitions to break out of his limited world. The soundtrack, which spawned a massively successful album, is dominated by the disco classics of the Bee Gees, including "Staying Alive" (Travolta's theme during the strutting opening) and "Night Fever." The Oscar®-nominated Travolta, plucked from the cast of Welcome Back, Kotter, for his first starring role, is incandescent and unbelievably confident, and his dancing is terrific. Oh, and the white suit rules. - from Robert Horton Amazon.com HERE



The Film:

"Saturday Night Fever" is an especially hard-edged case and a very good movie. It's about a bunch of Brooklyn kids who aren't exactly delinquents but are fearsomely tough and cynical and raise a lot of hell on Saturday nights. They live for Saturday night, in fact: They hang their gold chains around their necks and put on the new shirts they bought with their Friday paychecks, and they head for a place called 2001 Odyssey, and they take pills and drink and, as Leo Sayer put it, dance the night away. Occasionally they go out to the parking lot for a session in the back seat with a girl.

John Travolta is the center of the crowd: He's Tony Manero, the best dancer, the best looker, the guy with the most confidence. His life is just as screwed up as everyone else's, but they don't know that, and they tell him: "You know somethin', Tony? You always seem to be in control."

He is not. He works all week at a paint and hardware store and comes home to a family that worships his older brother, who is a priest. The family's sketched briefly right at the beginning in a dinner scene which, like the whole movie, is able to walk the tightrope between what's funny and what's pathetic.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE



Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Firstly, despite some reservations - this is a fabulous film experience in hi-def - wow. I believe it was announced on the now defunct HD-DVD format by Paramount but never surfaced but is officially now on Blu-ray.


Firstly, to get the bad out of the way, there are edge-enhancement halos (see HERE) visible, very sparingly, in this release. The very few scenes that I noticed it were not the most memorable/important of the film and I question the need to have intensified the detail at those particular moments, but - in no way - did it deter my total enjoyment of this film in 1080P. This Blu-ray produces visuals that has a realistic feel - the grittiness exists, but it is cleaner, brighter and sharper. Skin-tones and contrast are superb (some nighttime blacks are crushed) and there is a bit of subtle grain. It fills the 1.78 frame and the feature itself is over 30 Gig on the dual-layered Blu-ray disc. The bitrate is solid in the mid-to-high 30's. This looked better than a 30-year old film should and it maintains much of the cinematic essence. While I can't give it a perfect score - my reaction to the film in motion was as energetic as the dancing. Most fans won't be disappointed at all.
















Audio :

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 at 3389 kbps supports the film to a whole new level of appreciation. I wouldn't say the range is overwhelming but the crispness of the 'iconic disco' music with tracks like "Staying Alive", "Night Fever", "Disco Inferno", "If I Can't Have You", "More Than A Woman" and "How Deep Is Your Love", among many others, sounding tight and pure. It's akin to SACD to my ears. The music in this film can be such an important part of a viewing and this mix doesn't disappoint. I suppose it could have more depth but remember that the film is more than a 30-year old production. I appreciated the way it spread throughout the room and it was pretty hard not to pump the volume at times. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu tells me this release is region-free! 




Extras :

The supplements are quite good despite the conspicuous absence of Travolta. Badham's 2.0 channel commentary is mixed quite well around the music and while he has some information to impart - mostly about production - it doesn't seem as though he is overly prepared - it's laid back with some amusing anecdotes, some stuff about Travolta and is worth a listen if you are keen on the film. There are about an hour's worth of HD featurettes divided up with mostly the same participants chiming in from Stigwood, some of the cast (Gorney, Pescow, Cali, Coppola, Miller etc.) - even Barry Gibb. It's a bit of reminiscence but I think that's okay too. There are 3 deleted scenes that were probably on the last DVD release. The Blu-ray unique feature has a 70's Discopedia track running, optionally, with the film with pop-up trivia on characters and details etc. . I suppose fans could have wanted more supplements  but it seemed to fill my expectations - despite being left itchy for more of Travolta input. 



A couple o decades ago - my finds and I would quickly dismiss Gene Siskel's opinion - touting this as his favorite film of all time. I really didn't think much of Saturday Night Fever and have not seen it since my first viewing a long, long time ago. I had a bit of an epiphany though with this Blu-ray viewing. If the disco generation could have a Fred Astaire - it would be Mr. Travolta. The camera just loves him - his face especially being so descriptive to his characterizations. Since Tony Manero had some basic similarities with Welcome Back Kotter's Vinnie Barbarino - it was easy to dismiss Travolta as incapable of showing a lot of range. I think though that his acting is so good that it makes it very easy to think Travolta actually is Manero (or Barbarino). The pulsating darkness of Badham's film seems to drastically intensify on Blu-ray in my opinion. This is a disparagingly haunting take on maturation and the music is so rhythmic that it can easily persuade you away from that essence. Saturday Night Fever is no simplistic musical vehicle for the lead star - he had a spotlight on him well before this (some may recall Terrence Malick desperately wanted Travolta for Days of Heaven - eventually settling on Gere). It transcends you to another time and place with abject realism - Siskel was right - and this Blu-ray does the job better than ever before for home theater viewing. STRONG recommmendation! 

Gary Tooze

April 28th, 2009




About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








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