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  Thank God It's Friday Boogie Nights
Year: 1978
Director: Robert Klane
Stars: Valerie Landsburg, Terri Nunn, Chick Vennera, Donna Summer, Ray Vitte, Mark Lonow, Andrea Howard, Jeff Goldblum, Robin Menken, Debra Winger, John Friedrich, Paul Jabara, Mews Small, Chuck Sacci, Hilary Beane, Otis Day, The Commodores, Al Fann
Genre: Comedy, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Zoo discotheque is enjoying a busy Friday night, as is the case with every Friday night, but not everyone can get in. As the owner, Tony (Jeff Goldblum), arrives in his Porsche and parks it in his spot, a selection of would-be patrons are showing up hoping to forget their troubles for a few hours' dancing, but teenage Frannie (Valerie Landsburg) and Jeannie (Terri Nunn) are turned away for being too young. Meanwhile married couple Dave (Mark Lonow) and Susan (Andrea Howard) argue about going in, but Ken (John Friedrich) and Carl (Paul Jabara) are so eager they nearly crash their car...

With an ensemble cast including Goldblum, if you were charitable you may have thought that Thank God It's Friday was attempting to be the disco equivalent of a Robert Altman movie, but most identified this was following in the footsteps of a hit from a few years before, American Graffiti, though not with the same amount of enduring success. That would be down to its choice of disco music which ran throughout the film, which fell out of fashion in a way that hits from the early sixties did not; granted, this was not as good an effort as the George Lucas favourite, but if you were willing to admit that disco did not in fact suck then there was much to appreciate.

The purpose of this was to sell a load of records on the Casablanca label, and there was a double album released which you could buy at the time, but if the grit and uncomfortable moments of Saturday Night Fever left you rather cold, then this was a warmer prodcution and would likely bring back memories of clubbing more than the dramatics of the John Travolta movie. This was shot in a real disco, Osko's, an establishment long gone by the late eighties which offers it a historical value should you happen to wonder what it ever looked like on the inside as well as the outside. Most likely that eclectic cast would be a draw as well, with soon to be famous performers rubbing shoulders with those who never quite were.

The DJ, for example was Ray Vitte, a talented chap who was also in Car Wash and generating a few laughs from his character looking for his big break as the show is being broadcast live on the radio, but Floyd (singer Otis Day) who is delivering the instruments for the band has gotten lost. Vitte was tragically killed in an altercation with the police a short while after making this, but the band the DJ is hoping to announce were The Commodores, with Lionel Richie still part of the line-up, more points of interest in a film packed with them. That's not to mention the other character hoping for a break is the Queen of Disco herself, Donna Summer, here in a character role and trilling the Oscar-winning title track.

Meanwhile as the teens Landsburg went onto fame in, well, Fame on TV (she sang pop favourite High Fidelity) and Nunn became singer of another Oscar-winning song, Take My Breath Away from Top Gun as the frontwoman of Berlin. Then there was Debra Winger, about to be a face of the eighties in Hollywood as a klutzy square tagging along with more worldly friend Robin Menken, and disco songwriting legend Paul Jabara as the shortsighted optimist who gets locked in a stairwell; he was another who died too young a few years later. If the sense of humour here rests too heavily on the people involved behaving obnoxiously, then every so often there would be reason to chuckle, and the very ephemeral nature of the entertainment on offer gave it an attraction of an artefact not intended to last beyond the end of the seventies. Besides, no film which included a big chunk of Giorgio Moroder's From Here to Eternity could be considered a dead loss.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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