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Friday, July 27, 2012

'Saturday Night Fever' is always hot

John Travolta and Karen Lynn Gorney in Paramount Pictures' Saturday Night Fever/Paramount Pictures

How many times have you read a book or seen a movie for the second time, and it's just not the same? Somehow, the allure, the magic, the whatever spell it cast upon you to memorialize it in the first place have vanished.  "The second time around" just doesn't...quite...capture "it." 

Maybe it was the rose-colored eyes of youth, alas, which tinted the reception and dulled the later experience, similar to what the adults found (or didn't find) in the Polar Express.  Sigh.

John Travolta and Karen Lynn Gorney in Paramount Pictures' Saturday Night Fever/Paramount Pictures

I am pleased to disprove the foregoing observation.  I am pleased to report a better reception the second time around.  I am pleased to report that years have not reduced the enjoyment one gets from watching Saturday Night Fever again. Yay and whoa! 

I had forgotten what a heckuva good time this movie is, with a story which extends far beyond the dance contest and all the numbers, which are about all I could remember.  It actually has a plot, a very good one, and the acting, yes, by John Travolta and many others, is exceptionally good.  The family scenes!  And you thought your family was dysfunctional?  

Right out of the gate, it takes off like a rocket, and never loses power, soaring from the ground shots of Tony's clicking and clacking shoes along New York City's sidewalks, to "let's be friends" at the end. The music still plays in my mind days later.  The Bee Gees.  Who can forget? 

Thanks to the Smithsonian's American Art Museum, a free screening of the film was shown last weekend as part of a dance double-feature with 2010's Black Swan (another one I loved) shown earlier in the day. 

On the way to town on the Metro packed with tourists, I had asked myself more than once:  You are going downtown to see a 40-year old movie?  You are electing to ride Metro on the weekend to do what? 

It was one of those times when I knew a good reason would present itself, and they did.  Not only was the film thoroughly fantastic, but I got to see the National Portrait Gallery's Amelia Earhart exhibition and faces in the "Recent Acquisitions" gallery like Hillary Clinton's by Chuck Close, Bill Clinton's, Barbara Bush's, and a painting of Grandma Moses.

But, back to the movie:  I had forgotten about all the obscenities (and the polyester) and think that what I saw the first time was the edited, PG version, which, truly, does not have the power of the real thing. 

John Travolta and Karen Lynn Gorney in Paramount Pictures' Saturday Night Fever/Paramount Pictures

If you haven't seen it, or even if you have, two hours of solid entertainment are what it's all about, moviegoers, and there's no getting around Travolta's dancing. He knew (knows?) some steps.  Makes you want to get up and out on the dance floor and move your feet and hips and swing those arms around and expel some creepy calories. You know the kind that come with age.  Sigh.  Michelle Obama would approve.

Saturday Night Fever was nominated for only one Academy Award (Best Actor: Travolta), several Golden Globes and won... nothing.

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