5 Plot Point Breakdown: Saturday Night Fever (1977)

By Xiaofeng Chen · March 2, 2015

Screenplay Genre: Musical Romance

Film Time: 114 minutes

Tony Manero (John Travolta) is a pretty, interesting Italian American boy who lives in New York, 19 years old, not well-educated and works in a paint store. All the time he is muddling around with his punk friends: Gus (Bruce Ornstein), Joey (Joseph Cali), Double J (Paul Pape) and Bobby (Barry Miller). When people remind him to think about his future, he says: “Fuck the future!” Fortunately, his parents have another son: his older brother Frank (Martin Shakar) who is a seminarist and going to be a priest. The parents are very proud of him and look at him as the hope of the family. So Tony can be what he wants to be and won’t be expected to be somebody or do something.

But every Saturday night Tony becomes a king of the Disco scene. He dances brilliantly and overshadows all the others there. “I like to watch you dance ,Tony!” Girls always say, and: “Would you like to dance with me?”


Tony’s dance partner and pursuer Annete (Donna Pescow) tells him 2001 Odyssey is holding a new dancing contest with a doubled prize: $500 for the champion. She asks Tony to practice with her. Tony accepts. Later at the dance hall, Tony sees a beautiful girl who is dancing like a butterfly and is attracted into her. (18:38)

Lock In: When Tony goes to the dance studio, he sees that girl practicing there. He talks with her and gets to know she is Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney), a college student. Tony asks Stephanie to go to the dance contest with him. Stephanie is interested in this pretty and rude boy. She accepts it. (39:47)

Tony dumps Annete and practices with Stephanie. They mesh well together and become good partners. Tony tries to spark a deeper relationship with Stephanie, but he finds difficulty with it: While they’re dating, all the college girl talks about are “Romeo and Juliet”, “ La Côte Basque,” and Laurence Olivier. This makes Tony feel something is between them two.

Tony’s friend Gus has a fight with another group of punks: the “Barracudas” and is hurt bad. Joey, Double J and Bobby are going to get even for him, but Tony warns them not to take any action before thinking long and hard about it.

Tony’s brother Frank quits the priesthood, thus t collapsing the ceiling of the family. The parents are so disappointed with him that they feel their only hope is gone. Frank tells Tony he is tired of being told to do something and making his own life now. He encourages Tony to do the thing he believes is right.

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

Tony helps Stephanie move her things to her house. There he meets Stephanie’s tutor: a middle age man and finds Stephanie had an intimate relationship with him.(78:00) Tony is jealous. And later in the dance studio, Tony sees Stephanie dancing with a disgusting guy like she dances with him. This makes Tony feel that Stephanie is not that perfect anymore.

Tony, Joey, Double J and Bobby fight the “Barracudas” back for Gus. They go to see Gus and tell him about it, but Gus says he is not sure it was the “Barracudas” who beat him up!


On contest night, Tony and Stephanie dance a wonderful and charming Latin at 2001 Odyssey. When the climax comes, they can’t resist their feelings and kiss each other. At last, they defeat all the rivals and win the championship. (96:38)

But Tony thinks they were only worthy of second place: a couple of Costa Ricans are better than he and Stephanie. He refuses to accept the prize and gives it to the Costa Rican couple.

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

Tony sees this place he used to be in is a “shithole.” He gets angry and abuses Stephanie. Stephanie is scared and runs away. Then Tony has a fight with Joey and Double J because Annete plays chippie with them to get back at him. Then they’re all drunk and drive on the Brooklyn Bridge. Bobby suddenly goes crazy, he climbs on the rail and staggers on its narrow margin! Tony climbs up it to get him down. Bobby cries and blames everybody is despising him and doesn’t care about him. Then he jumps.

The police come and ask the group if Bobby killed himself or not. Tony suddenly gets something: “There are ways of killing yourself without killing yourself.” (105:19) Then he leaves his friends who are not his friends anymore.

Tony wanders around the city all the night. In the morning, he goes to Stephanie’s and apologizes for what he did last night. He tells her he feels all his life before was nothing and he wants to make a new one: with her.

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