‘Saturday Night Fever’ movie: John Travolta disco dances at Academy Theater
A newly struck print of the John Badham-directed 1977 John Travolta movie Saturday Night Fever, a mix of social commentary and groovy disco dancing, will be screened as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ “Monday Nights with Oscar” series on Monday, Aug. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy Theater in New York City. (Image: Saturday Night Fever John Travolta as Tony Manero.)
This special “30th anniversary celebration” will feature a post-screening discussion with Saturday Night Fever leading lady Karen Lynn Gorney and fellow actress Donna Pescow, costume designer Patrizia von Brandenstein, and casting director Shirley Rich.
Based on a magazine article by Nik Cohn and adapted for the screen by Norman Wexler, Saturday Night Fever tells the story of Tony Manero (John Travolta), a 19-year-old paint store worker from Brooklyn who finds respite from his drab existence by shaking his tush on the local disco dance floor. There he meets Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney), another working-class disco mover and shaker. Love and issues ensue, including drug use, sexual hangups, anti-gay bigotry, and ethnic tensions.
‘Saturday Night Fever’ sparked global disco dancing epidemic
Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta, and the Bee Gees soundtrack – “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” “More Than a Woman,” “If I Can’t Have You” – were all major hits at the time. John Travolta even managed to get a Best Actor Academy Award nomination. Worse yet, Travolta’s dancing style spread like a deadly virus, spawning a worldwide epidemic of disco dancers from Indiana to Indonesia.
But the Saturday Night Fever-induced cultural nadir was a 1983 sequel: Staying Alive, directed by Sylvester Stallone, and featuring John Travolta’s Tony Manero torn between fellow dancers Cynthia Rhodes and Finola Hughes.
‘Saturday Night Fever’ screenwriter Norman Wexler
Saturday Night Fever screenwriter Norman Wexler also penned (with Waldo Salt) the Sidney Lumet-directed Al Pacino drama Serpico (1973), about police corruption in New York City, and the psychological family drama Joe (1970), starring Peter Boyle in the title role and featuring newcomer Susan Sarandon. Both movies earned Wexler Academy Award nominations.
Following Saturday Night Fever, he received credit for only two other screenplays: Staying Alive and the 1986 Arnold Schwarzenegger thriller Raw Deal. Wexler, who suffered from mental disorders and at one point was arrested for threatening to shoot U.S. president Richard Nixon, died of a heart attack in 1999.
The Academy Theater is located at 111 East 59th Street in New York City. Saturday Night Fever tickets may be reserved by calling 1-888-778-7575.
Disco dancing Tony Manero a.k.a. John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever photo: Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library / © A.M.P.A.S.
Saturday Night Fever actresses Karen Lynn Gorney and Donna Pescow at Academy screening
Aug. 13 update: Actresses Karen Lynn Gorney and Donna Pescow, costume designer Patrizia Von Brandenstein, and casting director Shirley Rich were present for an onstage discussion following the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ presentation of the John Badham-directed 1977 box office sensation Saturday Night Fever, on Monday, Aug. 13, in New York City. Saturday Night Fever, which turned John Travolta into a star and earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination, was screened as part of the Academy’s “Monday Nights with Oscar” series. (Image: Saturday Night Fever actresses Karen Lynn Gorney and Donna Pescow at Academy screening.)
Karen Lynn Gorney movies
Besides playing John Travolta’s love interest and disco-dancing partner in Saturday Night Fever, the Beverly Hills-born Karen Lynn Gorney (Jan. 28, 1945) has been featured in only about a dozen movies.
According to the IMDb, Gorney’s first film appearance was in a small role as a teenager in Frank Perry’s 1962 mental-illness melodrama, David and Lisa (1962), starring Keir Dullea and Janet Margolin. Following an eight-year break, she was featured in Leonard Horn’s now all-but-forgotten The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart. Next – as in, seven years later – came Saturday Night Fever.
Movie stardom, however, eluded her. Gorney’s next movie role was a bit part in John Badham’s Michael J. Fox star vehicle The Hard Way in 1991. More bit parts followed in movies such as Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black (1997), starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, and Tim Robbins’ all-star political allegory Cradle Will Rock (1999).
Karen Lynn Gorney’s more recent film work includes two bigger roles in small 2007 indies: Alex Kuciw’s short George, with Steve Routman, and Gerald Schoenewolf’s feature Therapy, opposite Ben Cohen and Alex Emanuel.
Karen Lynn Gorney is the daughter of “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” and “Moonlight and Pretzels” composer Jay Gorney. As per the IMDb, her mother, Sondra Gorney, played bit parts in a couple of films.
Saturday Night Fever actresses Karen Lynn Gorney and Donna Pescow photo: © Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Roger Daltrey at Woodstock in Woodstock.
‘Woodstock’: Monday Nights with Oscar
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ “Monday Nights with Oscar” series will present a special screening of Woodstock on Saturday, September 8, at 1 p.m. at the Academy Theater in New York City.
Following an extended break, the program will resume at 6 p.m. with an onstage panel discussion with three-time Academy Award-winning film editor and frequent Martin Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker, concert producers Michael Lang and Joel Rosenman, concert staffer Lee Blumer, campground coordinator Stan Goldstein, and sound engineer Bill Hanley (schedules permitting).
According to the Academy’s press release, “the day before the 1969 festival, Woodstock director Michael Wadleigh and associate producer Dale Bell organized roughly 80 cinematographers, sound recordists, and technicians into a single crew. Through rainstorms, electrical shorts, and a swelling crowd, the team captured ‘three days of peace and music’ on 315,000 feet of film, including performances by Richie Havens, Joan Baez, The Who, Sha Na Na, Ten Years After, Arlo Guthrie, Crosby Stills & Nash, Joe Cocker, Country Joe & the Fish, John Sebastian, Santana, Sly & the Family Stone, and Jimi Hendrix.”
I don’t remember much about Wadleigh’s take on Woodstock – except for the fact that while watching the documentary long, long after the real Woodstock had come and gone – I truly felt as if I were at the concert itself.
Well, let me rephrase that.
Unlike many (most? just about all?) Woodstock participants, I wasn’t on anything that evening, and probably as a result of that, er … lack of vitamins, I was bored to tears (as I would have been had I gone to the actual concert). I can’t even recall if I watched the three-hour film all the way to its final bang (or whimper) or if I left long before both the peace and the music were over. Perhaps I should have taken something to help me get through the never-ending musical numbers and to help me remember now what the hell it was that I saw and heard.
Woodstock won the 1970 Academy Award for Documentary Feature (Bob Maurice, producer) and was nominated in the Film Editing and Sound categories (Schoonmaker; Dan Wallin, Larry Johnson).
“Monday Nights with Oscar” is a monthly series showcasing high-quality prints of films that have been nominated for or won Academy Awards. For this special Saturday screening, the Academy will present a 35mm print from the film’s original 1970 stereo theatrical release, courtesy of Warner Bros.
Tickets for Woodstock are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. A single ticket will provide admission to both the screening and post-screening discussion. Tickets may be reserved by calling 1-888-778-7575. Depending on availability, tickets may be purchased in person on the afternoon of the screening. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. All seating is unreserved.
The Academy Theater is located at 111 East 59th Street in New York City.
Photos: courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library/© A.M.P.A.S.
Mark Isham & Lalo Schifrin on creating movie scores: ‘The Music Soundtrack’
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ three-evening series “The Music Soundtrack: A Composers’ Forum of Contemporary Scoring Technique” will focus on the creation of music scores for motion pictures. “The Music Soundtrack” sessions will be held on Sept. 20, Sept. 27, and Oct. 4, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood.
According to the Academy’s press release, “’The Music Soundtrack’ will offer an in-depth look at the music scoring process from the perspective of motion picture composers themselves. Each week’s topic will be illuminated by film clips, onstage discussions with guests and questions from the audience.”
Oscar nominees Mark Isham, Lalo Schifrin, Bruce Broughton discuss ‘The Music Soundtrack’
The “Music Soundtrack” series schedule is as follows:
September 20 – Traditional Scores
Moderated by Charles Bernstein (Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision), with six-time Oscar nominee Lalo Schifrin (Cool Hand Luke, Voyage of the Damned, The Amityville Horror), and Academy Award winner Jan A.P. Kaczmarek (Aimee & Jaguar, Unfaithful, Finding Neverland).
September 27 – Alternative Scores
Moderated by Oscar nominee Bruce Broughton (Silverado, Sweet Liberty, Miracle on 34th Street), with Mychael Danna (Little Miss Sunshine), Oscar nominee Mark Isham (A River Runs Through It, Crash, The Black Dahlia), and Rolfe Kent (Sideways).
October 4 – The Music Team
Featuring George S. Clinton (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery), Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles), John Powell (United 93), and Mike Flicker (music editor on Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery).
Passes for the entire “The Music Soundtrack” series will be available starting September 4 at a cost of $30 for the general public and $20 for Academy members and students with valid ID. Tickets for individual evenings, if available, will be $10 at the door.
The Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater is located at 1313 Vine Street in Hollywood. For more information, visit www.oscars.org/events or call (310) 247-3600.