Saturday Night Fever was based on a story for New York Magazine by the British rock critic Nik Cohn.
‘The Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night’ was ‘true’ Cohn said.
‘While Manhattan remains firmly rooted in the sixties – still caught up in faction and fad and the dreary games of decadence’ he wrote ‘a whole new generation has been growing up around it – virtually unrecognised.
Kids of sixteen to twenty – full of energy urgency hunger.
All the things in fact that the Manhattan circuit in its smugness has lost.’
Years later Cohn revealed that his story was based on people he’d known in Shepherds Bush.
Cohn’s father Norman was the author of The Pursuit of the Millennium – about the end-of-the-world-is-moments-away discourses of Joachim de Fiore and other Medieval doom prophets.
It casts a new light on the opening scene of Saturday Night Fever: there is the film’s hero Vinnie played by John Travolta promenading through the streets of a city that was said by many at the time to be going to hell.
‘Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’ the opening song, ‘Stayin’ Alive’ goes.
Vinnie is no prophet but he lives as if there will be no tomorrow.