Saturday Night Fever

Twenty years after he wrote "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night" for New York Magazine, filmed the following year as Saturday Night Fever (1977), British journalist Nik Cohn admitted he'd made most of it up. His admission was met with a collective shrug of indifference. From that fiction was born the first great movie musical of the post-rock age. The soundtrack—featuring those brilliant Bee Gees and Trammps' timeless "Disco Inferno"—sold a gazillion copies, and the movie made John Travolta a superstar. It even briefly made disco safe for straight white males—until the notorious Chicago record burning and riot at a 1979 White Sox game. (Disco never died, of course, kept alive by the gays and Madonna.) But Travolta's Tony Manero has deeper roots than a dancing fad or Cohn's fabrication; he's an outer-borough striver, a Brooklyn dreamer who's drawn to the bright lights of Manhattan. Tony's elegant white suit (later bought by critic Gene Siskel), wide labels, and immaculate grooming—"Watch the hair!—are professional tools to him, and his dance moves are as much about class advancement as sex. He's the undisputed alpha leader of his tribe, and he's the only one prepared to leave his Bay Ridge clan behind. Call for showtimes. (R) BRIAN MILLER

Wednesdays. Starts: Jan. 16. Continues through Feb. 6, 2013

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