Staying Alive (1983)

PG | 97 mins | Drama, Musical | 15 July 1983

Director:

Sylvester Stallone

Cinematographer:

Nick McLean

Production Designer:

Robert Boyle

Production Companies:

Paramount Pictures , Robert Stigwood Productions
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HISTORY

End credits include the following statements: “Thank you’s: Jose Eber, Silver Solarium, Yamaha International Corporation”; “Dancewear furnished by Dance Centre”; “Jewelry furnished by Bulgari”; and, “Special thanks to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Auditorium."
       The 22 Jul 1979 LAT reported producer Robert Stigwood’s plans to film his next four pictures in New York City, one of which was Stayin’ Alive, anticipated as the sequel to Saturday Night Fever (1977, see entry). Nearly three years later, a news item in the 16 Apr 1982 HR announced that Stigwood convinced actor John Travolta to reprise the role of “Tony Manero” in Saturday Night Fever – II, the film’s working title.
       Screenwriter Norman Wexler told the 27 Jul 1983 Var that he submitted a screenplay to Stigwood in 1978, in which Tony Manero works a number of jobs on his way to finding a permanent career, with “a few dance sequences at parties.” Travolta contracted with Stigwood to appear in the sequel, but did not approve the script, insisting his character should pursue a career as a professional dancer. In Apr 1982, Travolta approved Wexler’s revised screenplay, which the writer believed offered a realistic portrait of an aspiring entertainer. When John Badham, who directed Saturday Night Fever, became unavailable, others possible directors were considered, including choreographer Patricia Birch. Travolta ultimately chose Sylvester Stallone, following the recommendation by Paramount Pictures Corp. president Michael Eisner. Stallone proceeded to rewrite the screenplay independently of Wexler and allegedly submitted it, through Paramount, to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) bearing only Stallone’s name. Although Paramount ... More Less

End credits include the following statements: “Thank you’s: Jose Eber, Silver Solarium, Yamaha International Corporation”; “Dancewear furnished by Dance Centre”; “Jewelry furnished by Bulgari”; and, “Special thanks to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Auditorium."
       The 22 Jul 1979 LAT reported producer Robert Stigwood’s plans to film his next four pictures in New York City, one of which was Stayin’ Alive, anticipated as the sequel to Saturday Night Fever (1977, see entry). Nearly three years later, a news item in the 16 Apr 1982 HR announced that Stigwood convinced actor John Travolta to reprise the role of “Tony Manero” in Saturday Night Fever – II, the film’s working title.
       Screenwriter Norman Wexler told the 27 Jul 1983 Var that he submitted a screenplay to Stigwood in 1978, in which Tony Manero works a number of jobs on his way to finding a permanent career, with “a few dance sequences at parties.” Travolta contracted with Stigwood to appear in the sequel, but did not approve the script, insisting his character should pursue a career as a professional dancer. In Apr 1982, Travolta approved Wexler’s revised screenplay, which the writer believed offered a realistic portrait of an aspiring entertainer. When John Badham, who directed Saturday Night Fever, became unavailable, others possible directors were considered, including choreographer Patricia Birch. Travolta ultimately chose Sylvester Stallone, following the recommendation by Paramount Pictures Corp. president Michael Eisner. Stallone proceeded to rewrite the screenplay independently of Wexler and allegedly submitted it, through Paramount, to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) bearing only Stallone’s name. Although Paramount denied the accusation, arbitration by the WGA was required to ensure Wexler co-authorship credit. The writer described the completed film as “a cliché-ridden, teeny bopper picture.”
       In the 22 Sep 1982 LAT, Travolta argued that Wexler’s first screenplay was inconsistent with his understanding of the character, Tony Manero, and believed audiences “would have hated” the resulting picture. Travolta initially rejected the role in favor of other projects, but later decided to return to musicals while his youth and physical condition allowed. His daily training for the role involved three hours of dance rehearsal and two hours of weight lifting. The actor anticipated a musical score with a jazz element, adding that musician Stevie Wonder agreed to write two songs for the film. Composer Quincy Jones, among others, was also being considered. Travolta agreed to work with Stallone based the “timing, pacing and style” of the director’s most recent film, Rocky III (1982, see entry). Stallone was currently rewriting the screenplay to suit their shared vision of “an ‘event’ type movie.”
       The 22 Sep 1982 HR announced the upcoming production by its official title, Staying Alive. An advertisement in the 2 Nov 1982 HR stated that choreographer Dennon Rawles was auditioning dancers at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, CA. According to the 5 Nov 1982 Back Stage, two weeks of principal photography were scheduled for New York City. Casting was currently in progress on the West Coast, with Joy Todd responsible for background actors. Todd’s name does not appear in onscreen credits. Principal photography began in early Jan 1983, as noted in the 10 Jan 1983 HR and the 12 Jan 1983 DV. The 11 Feb 1983 DV reported that a Beverly Hills, CA, home provided the set for the New York City apartment of the character, “Laura,” played by Finola Hughes in her motion picture acting debut. A news item in the 9 Mar 1983 NYT credited Jeff Zinn as Travolta’s picture double for leg and feet dancing shots, although he is not credited onscreen.
       Articles in the 15 Feb 1983 HR and the 11 Feb 1983 LAHExam reported a jurisdictional dispute between Paramount Pictures and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) over the use of Los Angeles crewmembers while on location in New York City. Union chief Walter F. Diehl accused Stallone of violating Paramount’s contract with the union, which guaranteed the exclusive employment of local crewmembers during production in the New York City area. Although the contract had expired, it was standard industry procedure to honor its terms until a new contract could be negotiated. Richard Schonland, Paramount vice president in charge of labor relations, argued that the perceived violation consisted of the Los Angeles crew merely performing afternoon and evening camera tests. However, an anonymous source determined the camera tests to be a serious violation, and implied that considerably more photography had taken place. Filming was scheduled to resume in New York City, but Diehl threatened to shut down the production if the dispute was not settled. The outcome has not been determined.
       On 17 Mar 1983, HR reported the completion of principal photography in New York City “ahead of schedule.” Three months later, the 22 Jun 1983 Var announced premiere events in Los Angeles at the Chinese Theatre on 11 Jul 1983, and in New York City at the Ziegfeld Theater on 13 Jul 1983, the proceeds of which benefited the Stallone Fund for Autism Research. An article in the 13 Jul 1983 LAT estimated net proceeds at $150,000. An unnamed source “close to the production” revealed that the music of Frank Stallone, the director’s brother, was featured in the picture after efforts to sign better-known songwriters failed. According to the 19 Jul 1983 LAHExam, the Bee Gees, who also contributed several songs, were dissatisfied with the placement of their music and declined to attend the Los Angeles premiere, reportedly to avoid public embarrassment.
       Staying Alive opened 15 Jul 1983 to mostly negative reviews. However, the 19 Jul 1983 LAT reported earnings of $13 million in the first three days of release, with a twenty-five percent decline in ticket sales the following weekend, as noted in the 26 Jul 1983 LAHExam. The 19 Aug 1983 Var reported gross tickets sales of $42,226,277 in the first twenty-four days. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Back Stage
5 Nov 1982.
---
Daily Variety
12 Jan 1983.
---
Daily Variety
11 Feb 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Sep 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jan 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Feb 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 1983
p. 3, 32.
LAHExam
11 Feb 1983
Section D, p. 20.
LAHExam
19 Jul 1983.
---
LAHExam
26 Jul 1983.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Sep 1982
p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
13 Jul 1983
Section VI, p 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
19 Jul 1983.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Jul 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Jul 1983
Calendar, p. 1.
New York Times
9 Mar 1983.
---
New York Times
15 Jul 1983
p. 8.
Rolling Stone
5 Aug 1982.
---
Variety
17 Sep 1982.
---
Variety
22 Jun 1983.
---
Variety
13 Jul 1983
p. 15.
Variety
27 Jul 1983
p. 3, 76.
Variety
10 Aug 1983
p. 3, 36.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Robert Stigwood Production
A Sylvester Stallone Film
In association with Cinema Group Venture
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
Unit prod mgr (NYC)
2d asst dir (NYC)
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Panaglide op
Portrait photog
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Stage lighting and spec lighting eff for "Satan's
Stage lighting and spec lighting eff for "Satan's
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Gaffer
Best boy elec
2nd lighting tech
Supv video eng
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Addl film ed
Addl film ed
Addl film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Prop person
Prop person
Const coord
Const foreman
Swing gang
Set des
Set des
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Finale cost des by
Men's costumer
Ladies' costumer
MUSIC
Featuring songs by
Music coord
Addl mus and score adpt by
Keyboards
Synthesizer programmer
Guitar
Saxophone
Bass guitar
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
SOUND
Sd ed
Sd ed
Supv sd ed
Prod sd mixer
Looping group
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec rec
Boom op
Cable man
Playback op
Dolby Stereo consultant
Glen Glenn Sound
Glen Glenn Sound
VISUAL EFFECTS
Supv spec eff
Main titles des
Titles and opticals by
DANCE
Choreog
Choreog
Dance consultant
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstyle supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod supv
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Transportation coord
Asst to James D. Brubaker
Asst to Sylvester Stallone
Asst to Bill Oakes
Secy to James D. Brubaker
Asst to John Travolta
Asst to Robert Stigwood
Casting asst
Craft service
First aid
First aid
Security
Catering
Unit pub
Extra casting
Physical therapist
Prod auditor
AFI intern
Support personnel
Support personnel
Support personnel
Support personnel
Support personnel
Support personnel
Support personnel
Support personnel
In association with
Asst prod accountant
Transportation capt
Police liaison
First aid
Eastman Kodak contact
Panavision contact
MGM lab contact
Cook/Driver
STAND INS
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based upon characters created by Nik Cohn.
AUTHOR
SONGS
"The Woman In You," performed by The Bee Gees, written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, produced by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, Karl Richardson and Albhy Galuten
"I Love You Too Much," performed by The Bee Gees, written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, produced by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, Karl Richardson and Albhy Galuten
"Breakout," performed by The Bee Gees, written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, produced by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, Karl Richardson and Albhy Galuten
+
SONGS
"The Woman In You," performed by The Bee Gees, written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, produced by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, Karl Richardson and Albhy Galuten
"I Love You Too Much," performed by The Bee Gees, written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, produced by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, Karl Richardson and Albhy Galuten
"Breakout," performed by The Bee Gees, written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, produced by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, Karl Richardson and Albhy Galuten
"Someone Belonging To Someone," performed by The Bee Gees, written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, produced by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, Karl Richardson and Albhy Galuten
"Life Goes On," performed by The Bee Gees, written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, produced by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, Karl Richardson and Albhy Galuten
"Stayin' Alive," performed by The Bee Gees, written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, produced by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, Karl Richardson and Albhy Galuten
"Devils And Seducers," performed by Gary Wright, written by Gary Wright and Dori Wright, produced and arranged by Gary Wright
"Far From Over," performed by Frank Stallone, written by Frank Stallone and Vince DiCola, produced by Johnny Mandel
"Look Out For Number One," performed by Tommy Faragher, written by Bruce Stephen Foster and Tom Marolda, produced by Stewart Levine, Bruce Stephen Foster and Tom Marolda
"Royale Theater Show," written by Frank Stallone and Vince DiCola, produced by Frank Stallone
"Hope We Never Change," performed by Frank Stallone and Cynthia Rhodes, written by Frank Stallone, Vince DiCola and Joe Bean Esposito, produced by Frank Stallone
"Waking Up," performed by Frank Stallone and Cynthia Rhodes, written by Frank Stallone, Vince DiCola and Arthur Colatrella, produced by Frank Stallone
"Moody Girl," written by Frank Stallone, Vince DiCola and Joe Bean Esposito, produced by Frank Stallone
"Finding Out The Hard Way," performed by Cynthia Rhodes, written by Frank Stallone and Roy Freeland, produced by Stewart Levine and Frank Stallone
"I'm Never Gonna Give You Up," performed by Frank Stallone and Cynthia Rhodes, written by Frank Stallone, Vince DiCola and Joe Bean Esposito, produced by Johnny Mandel
"(We Dance) So Close To The Fire," performed by Tommy Faragher, written by Randy Bishop and Tommy Faragher, produced by Stewart Levine and Randy Bishop
"The Winning End," performed by Joe Bean Esposito, written by Frank Stallone, Vince DiCola and Joe Bean Esposito, produced by Frank Stallone and Johnny Mandel.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Stayin' Alive
Saturday Night Fever - II
Release Date:
15 July 1983
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 11 July 1983
New York premiere: 13 July 1983
Los Angeles and New York openings: 15 July 1983
Production Date:
early January--mid March 1983
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
28 October 1983
Copyright Number:
PA189326
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27002
SYNOPSIS

Following a failed audition for a Broadway musical, Tony Manero teaches a dance class at Fatima’s Danceland in New York City. That evening, he waits tables in a nightclub, where he receives unwanted attention from hedonistic young women. He spends the night with his fellow dance teacher and sometimes-girl friend, Jackie. In the morning, he visits several theatrical agencies, hoping to acquire representation. Later, Tony vents his frustration to Jackie, a veteran chorus dancer. Although he is envious of Jackie’s modest success, Tony is baffled by her lack of ambition and tells her of his dreams of stardom. That night, Tony attends the final performance of Jackie’s latest Broadway show, and becomes entranced by Laura, the lead dancer. He flirts with Laura and she invites him to audition for her next show, Satan’s Alley. Jackie waits for Tony outside the theater and is angered by his interest in Laura. Both Tony and Jackie attend the audition, and while Jackie is hired immediately, Tony is told that he will be notified by telephone. He and Laura spend the day together and make love in her apartment until late in the evening. The following day, Tony receives word that he passed the audition, and telephones his mother in Brooklyn, New York, to share the news. That night, he breaks a date with Jackie to wait for Laura outside her apartment building. However, he sees Laura in the company of another man, and is overcome with jealousy. As rehearsals begin ... +


Following a failed audition for a Broadway musical, Tony Manero teaches a dance class at Fatima’s Danceland in New York City. That evening, he waits tables in a nightclub, where he receives unwanted attention from hedonistic young women. He spends the night with his fellow dance teacher and sometimes-girl friend, Jackie. In the morning, he visits several theatrical agencies, hoping to acquire representation. Later, Tony vents his frustration to Jackie, a veteran chorus dancer. Although he is envious of Jackie’s modest success, Tony is baffled by her lack of ambition and tells her of his dreams of stardom. That night, Tony attends the final performance of Jackie’s latest Broadway show, and becomes entranced by Laura, the lead dancer. He flirts with Laura and she invites him to audition for her next show, Satan’s Alley. Jackie waits for Tony outside the theater and is angered by his interest in Laura. Both Tony and Jackie attend the audition, and while Jackie is hired immediately, Tony is told that he will be notified by telephone. He and Laura spend the day together and make love in her apartment until late in the evening. The following day, Tony receives word that he passed the audition, and telephones his mother in Brooklyn, New York, to share the news. That night, he breaks a date with Jackie to wait for Laura outside her apartment building. However, he sees Laura in the company of another man, and is overcome with jealousy. As rehearsals begin for Satan’s Alley, Tony berates Laura for her casual attitude toward their relationship. His attitude surprises her as she believes they were merely using each other. Later, Tony ignores another date with Jackie to attend a cocktail party at Laura’s apartment, but is disappointed to discover that Laura’s companion for the evening is Jesse, her director. Although Jackie is in love with Tony, she can no longer tolerate his infidelity. She ends their romance, but promises to remain friends. After a night of wandering the streets, Tony visits his mother and apologizes for his arrogant behavior over the years. Mrs. Manero reminds him that his arrogance also gave him the courage to pursue his dreams. Later, during a rehearsal, Tony notices Jesse’s frustration with Butler, Laura’s leading man, whose rigid dance style is poorly suited to the material. Tony begs Jackie to meet him at the studio after rehearsal, with the promise that he will keep the appointment. When Jackie returns to the studio, Tony reveals his intention to replace the leading man, and enlists Jackie’s help in learning one of Butler’s routines. Afterward, as Tony walks Jackie home, he declares his love for her and promises to be faithful. In the morning, Jesse agrees to let Tony demonstrate the routine, despite Laura’s protests. Following an awkward first attempt, Tony runs toward the exit, but Jesse reminds him of the rare opportunity he has been given, and advises Tony to balance his arrogance with humility. Tony is allowed another chance, and after giving a flawless performance, he wins the lead role. Mrs. Manero attends the opening performance, bragging about her son to audience members. At the end of the first act, Tony taunts Laura by kissing her, and Jesse warns Tony not to bring his personal issues onstage. Following the second act, Laura asks Tony to meet her after the show, but when he declines, she insults his dancing ability. Tony proves himself in the third act by performing an unscripted solo routine, ending with a leap onto a pedestal at center stage. He beckons Laura to join him, then holds her aloft with one hand as the audience responds with a standing ovation. Afterward, Tony thanks Jackie for her help and support. Laura looks on enviously as Tony and Jackie kiss, but accepts her defeat. Tony leaves the theater and “struts” down Broadway. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.