Staying Alive (1983 film)

Staying Alive is a 1983 American dance musical film and the sequel to Saturday Night Fever (1977). Directed by Sylvester Stallone, who also co-produced and co-wrote the film with original Fever producer and writer, Robert Stigwood and Norman Wexler, respectively, the film stars John Travolta, reprising his role as Tony Manero, with Cynthia Rhodes, Finola Hughes, Joyce Hyser, Julie Bovasso, and dancers Viktor Manoel and Kevyn Morrow.

Staying Alive
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySylvester Stallone
Screenplay by
Based on
Produced by
CinematographyNick McLean
Edited by
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
Running time
96 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$22 million[4]
Box office$127 million

The title comes from the Bee Gees song of the same name, which was used as the theme song to Saturday Night Fever and is also played during the final scene of Staying Alive. The title also reflects Tony's circumstances at the film's beginning, in which he is barely surviving as he pursues his dream of making his dancing career.

Staying Alive was theatrically released on July 15, 1983, to universally negative critical reviews, and, released in 1983, is the oldest film to hold a score of 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. Nonetheless, it was a box office success, earning $127 million worldwide on a $22 million budget. The film also featured Stallone's younger brother Frank's song, "Far from Over", which peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Cashbox charts. Along with Homefront (2013), this is one of only two films that Stallone wrote without starring (although he has an uncredited cameo appearance).


Anthony "Tony" Manero, a former disco king, acts on his brother's advice and his own dreams of dancing professionally. He is now in his mid 20s, living in a Manhattan flophouse (dosshouse), working as a dance instructor and waiter at a dance club, searching for a big break in the modern dance productions on Broadway. The break from his Brooklyn life, family, and friends seem to have somewhat matured Tony and refined his personality, including his diminished Brooklyn accent, an avoidance of alcohol, and less use of profanity. Other attitudes remain unchanged, such as his disregard for his girlfriend, the forgiving Jackie, who is a dancer and rock singer. Still acting immature, Tony maintains some of his other macho and childish double standards, such as seeing other women but being offended if he sees Jackie with other men.

Tony watches a show, which features Jackie as a dancer in the chorus, but focuses on the lead, a seemingly wealthy English dancer, Laura. Tony pursues her with seduction in mind, and spends the night with her. He is annoyed when she dismisses him afterward, not understanding that she intended their encounter to be a one-night stand. Laura coldly justifies her treatment of him by saying that "Everybody uses everybody", and implies that Tony used her in order to get a dance role in her upcoming show.

Unable to trust Tony, Jackie breaks up with him. Jackie, Tony and Laura then all audition for the Broadway production, Satan's Alley. Jackie and Tony land small roles, and Laura is cast as the lead female dancer.

Tony begins to realize how callous he has been to Jackie, and walks all the way from Manhattan to his old Bay Ridge neighborhood in Brooklyn in the middle of the night. He takes stock of how much his life has changed since he left Brooklyn when walks past 2001 Odyssey, which was his hangout six years before, and is now a gay nightclub. When Tony goes to visit his mother, and apologizes for his selfishness and the troublemaking ways of his youth, she points out that his selfish behavior as a teen was what helped him escape a dead-end life in Bay Ridge. Tony feels better after this and heads back to Manhattan to repair his relationship with Jackie. His hostility and distance from the arrogant Laura increase as the production progresses.

Tony decides to take a shot at replacing the male lead of Satan's Alley, and requests Jackie to help him practice the number. Laura is disgusted when Tony succeeds and openly displays her resentment at having to partner him in the show. They cannot hide their chemistry on stage despite her animosity, which pleases the show's director Jesse.

Satan's Alley sells out, and the cast takes the stage to a standing-room-only crowd. The first act is a success despite Tony's brash disregard for the script when he kisses Laura at the end of their number. Laura furiously retaliates by clawing Tony's face. Jesse blasts Tony backstage, telling him to take his personal war away from the production. Laura seems to offer a truce when she asks to see him after the show to "clear things up". Now fully aware of her manipulative ways, Tony coldly tells her that he has other commitments, and Laura snidely responds that he lacks star quality.

The second act is a dazzling display of dance and special effects, and Tony suddenly abandons the script near the end of the show. He hurls Laura away and gives way to his frustration in a solo dance. He finishes and holds out his hand to Laura with a command to jump. She halts amid Jackie's and Jesse's commands, but finally leaps in his arms for a climactic finish to the show. The thrilled audience gives a standing ovation.

Tony celebrates with his jubilant castmates and reconciles with Jackie. He says that what he really must do is "strut" in celebration. He leaves the theater and struts through Times Square, beaming with his newfound success in a scene echoing the opening of Saturday Night Fever.


Richie Sambora appeared in an uncredited role as a guitarist of the local band, in which Jackie and Carl also perform.[5] Sylvester Stallone makes an uncredited cameo appearance as a man on the street, whom Tony bumps into.

Some Fever actors were to reprise their roles but ended up removed from the final cut: Donna Pescow appeared in the audience at Tony's Broadway debut, and Val Bisoglio appeared briefly as Tony's father.[citation needed] His scene was deleted, and the film instead vaguely implies that he has passed away.


Development and writingEdit

Kersti Adams-Ray interviews John Travolta in Sweden about Staying Alive, September 1983

Saturday Night Fever producer and writer Robert Stigwood and Norman Wexler started planning a sequel soon after the original film came out in 1977, due to the film's success. They came up with the title Staying Alive, and Wexler wrote a script. Travolta was open to the idea of a sequel, but did not like the pessimism of the script, thinking that his character, Tony Manero, needed to see more success as a dancer.[6] Stigwood and executives from Paramount Pictures spent the next several years trying to convince Travolta to film the script as written, but with no success.[6] The project was considered abandoned, but then in 1981 Stigwood met with Travolta to get Travolta's views on how a sequel should go. Travolta stated that he wanted Manero to attempt a dance career on Broadway and end up in a leading role due to his talent.[6] Wexler wrote another script based on Travolta's ideas, in which Manero becomes a Broadway dancer but remains in the chorus. Travolta agreed to participate in the film, though he preferred an ending more like the one he had envisioned: he agreed that Wexler's ending was a more realistic outcome, but felt that it would not be sufficiently exciting for audiences.[6]

It was then time to find a director for Staying Alive, and Travolta, who had just seen the film Rocky III (which Stallone wrote, directed and starred in), told his agent that he wanted a director who could bring the energy and pacing of that film to Staying Alive. To Travolta's surprise, Paramount, with the help of then-studio chief Michael Eisner, was able to bring in Stallone himself.[6] Travolta told Stallone about his idea for a happier ending, and Stallone rewrote the script to more closely match Travolta's vision. Stallone also made the Manero character more mature - given that the character was now six years older than in the original film - and made the film's language tamer than that of the first film, to ensure that it got a PG rating.[6]

Under Stallone's supervision, Travolta spent five months doing rigorous training to develop a dancer's physique for the film, losing 20 pounds in the process.[6]



Staying Alive: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Bee Gees and others
  June 1983)

  July 1983

RecordedFebruary–March 1983 in Middle Ear Studio (Miami Beach, Florida)
GenreRock, soft rock, funk, R&B, new wave, dance
LabelRSO Records
ProducerBee Gees, Albhy Galuten, Karl Richardson
Bee Gees chronology
Living Eyes
Staying Alive: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Singles from Staying Alive: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  1. "The Woman in You"
    Released: June 1983
  2. "Someone Belonging to Someone"
    Released: July 1983
  3. "Far from Over"
    Released: August 1983
  4. "I'm Never Gonna Give You Up"
    Released: September 1983
  5. "Look Out For Number One"
    Released: 1983 (UK only)

The soundtrack was released in 1983 and is mainly performed by the Bee Gees. Five new Bee Gees songs (all of which have lead vocals by Barry Gibb) took up the first side, with side two featuring various artists performing songs mostly written by Frank Stallone, brother of the film's director Sylvester Stallone. The soundtrack reached number 14 in the United Kingdom, number 6 in the United States, number 1 in Switzerland, and number 2 in Italy and Japan. The LP was the final soundtrack, and the final songs, by the Bee Gees released under RSO.

All tracks on Side A are written and performed by the Bee Gees (Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb). "Stayin' Alive" was shortened exclusively for the soundtrack, the full song is actually used in the film.

Out of the songs featured in the film (excluding instrumental Muzak tracks),[7] only "Waking Up" by Frank Stallone and Cynthia Rhodes, and "The Winning End" by Joe Esposito did not make it to the soundtrack, and "Breakout" by the Bee Gees was not featured in the movie. "Waking Up" would later be released as the B-side to the "Far From Over" single, except as a solo version with Rhodes' vocals removed. A brief except of a third duet with Frank Stallone and Cynthia Rhodes titled "Hope We Never Change" is also featured in the film.

Side A
1."The Woman in You"Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin GibbBee Gees4:04
2."I Love You Too Much"Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin GibbBee Gees4:27
3."Breakout"Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin GibbBee Gees4:46
4."Someone Belonging to Someone"Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin GibbBee Gees4:26
5."Life Goes On"Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin GibbBee Gees4:26
6."Stayin' Alive (edited version)"Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin GibbBee Gees1:33
Side B
7."Far from Over"Frank Stallone, Vince DiColaFrank Stallone3:56
8."Look Out for Number One"Bruce Stephen Foster, Tom MaroldaTommy Faragher3:20
9."Finding Out the Hard Way"Frank Stallone, Roy FreelandCynthia Rhodes3:33
10."Moody Girl"Frank Stallone, Vince DiCola, Joe EspositoFrank Stallone4:08
11."(We Dance) So Close to the Fire"Randy Bishop, Tommy FaragherTommy Faragher3:45
12."I'm Never Gonna Give You Up"Frank Stallone, Vince DiCola, Joe EspositoFrank Stallone and Cynthia Rhodes3:30
13."River of Souls"Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin GibbBee Gees6:57


Chart (1983) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[8] 28

Chart singlesEdit

Year Title Artist US US
1983 "The Woman in You" Bee Gees 24 - 77 - 81
"Someone Belonging to Someone" 49 - - - 49
"Far from Over" Frank Stallone 10 - - 43 68
"I'm Never Gonna Give You Up" Frank Stallone and Cynthia Rhodes - 16 - - -
“Look Out For Number One” Tommy Faragher - - - - -


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[9] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[10] Gold 100,000*
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[11] Gold 10,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[12] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[13] Platinum 1,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


Box officeEdit

Despite being a critical failure, Staying Alive was a commercial success. The film opened with the biggest weekend for a musical film ever (at the time) with a gross of $12,146,143 from 1,660 screens.[14][15] Overall, the film grossed nearly $65 million in the US box office against its $22 million budget. Worldwide it grossed $127 million. Though the US box office intake was significantly less than the $139.5 million[16] earned by Saturday Night Fever, the film nevertheless ranked in the top ten most financially successful films of 1983.

Critical responseEdit

Staying Alive received negative reviews from film critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rare approval rating of 0% based on 25 reviews, with an average rating of 2.68/10. The site's consensus reads: "This sequel to Saturday Night Fever is shockingly embarrassing and unnecessary, trading the original's dramatic depth for a series of uninspired dance sequences."[17]

Roger Ebert called the dance productions "laughably gauche", especially the final number, which he mocked for including "fire, ice, smoke, flashing lights and laser beams". Ebert added that what the film most lacked was "the sense of reality in Saturday Night Fever... There's no old neighborhood, no vulgar showdowns with his family (he apologizes to his mother for his "attitude"!) and no Brooklyn eccentricity."[18] In 2006, Entertainment Weekly dubbed Staying Alive the "Worst Sequel Ever."[19] Many critics were unanimous in agreeing that the film did not contain the grittiness and realism that was possessed by Saturday Night Fever.


The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book, The Official Razzie Movie Guide, as one of the 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.[20]

Nominated: Best Original Song ("Far from Over")
Nominated: Worst Actor (John Travolta)
Nominated: Worst New Star (Finola Hughes)
Nominated: Worst Supporting Actress (Finola Hughes)
Nominated: Best Album of Original Score Written for A Motion Picture or a Television Special


  1. ^ "Staying Alive". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2018-06-11. ... 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 ...
  2. ^ Galella, Ron (1983-07-11). Smeal, Jim (ed.). John Travolta and Sylvester Stallone during 'Stayin' Alive' Premiere (photography). Seattle: Getty Images. 115412569.
  3. ^ "Staying Alive". British Board of Film Classification. July 19, 1983.
  4. ^ "PowerGrid Project: Staying Alive". The Wrap. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  5. ^ Wuench, Kevin (May 18, 2017). "The Bee Gees fared as well in '80s as the movie 'Staying Alive'". Tampa Bay Times. St. Petersburg. Retrieved February 15, 2021. If you look real close, you can catch Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi) in Frank Stalllone's on-film band ...
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Farber, Stephan (July 10, 1983). "'Staying Alive' Revives Travolta". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Staying Alive (1983) - IMDb".
  8. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 283. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  9. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Various Artists – Staying Alive (Soundtrack)". Music Canada. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  10. ^ "French album certifications – B.O.F. – Staying Alive (Soundtrack)" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 18 May 2021. Select B.O.F. and click OK. 
  11. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1984". IFPI Hong Kong. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  12. ^ "British album certifications – Original Soundtrack – Staying Alive - Ost". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  13. ^ "American album certifications – Bee Gees – Staying Alive (Soundtrack)". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  14. ^ Murphy, Arthur D. (October 31, 1989). "Leading North American Film Boxoffice Weekends in History". Daily Variety. p. 53.
  15. ^ Staying Alive at Box Office Mojo
  16. ^ "Staying Alive". The Numbers.
  17. ^ "Staying Alive (1983)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  18. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 15, 1983). "Staying Alive movie review & film summary (1983)". Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  19. ^ "The Worst Sequels Ever — Staying Alive Entertainment Weekly issue #867. March 10, 2006.
  20. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.

External linksEdit