Saturday, March 26, 2016

Disco Fever (1978)

How much do titles matter? Let’s use this low-budget music movie as a case study. Although the picture has disco elements, including the principal location of a nightclub and a subplot about the rise of a wannabe disco singing star, the flick is not actually about disco. Rather, it’s about a nightclub owner who exploits a former teen idol, using his notoriety to gain publicity. While there isn’t a single original idea in the picture, the acting is adequate and the general arc of the piece is more or less satisfying in an empty-calories sort of way. (Anyone who’s ever encountered a story about an artist being asked to sell out will be able to predict the entire storyline.) Disco Fever even has something akin to credibility, since the main character is played by Fabian Forte, a real-life former teen idol. So here’s the problem with the title. Anyone buying a ticket for something called Disco Fever would, naturally, expect something in the vein of the previous year’s Saturday Night Fever. Thus, consumers willing to support any old movie with disco themes were hoodwinked, and the filmmakers who generated a borderline passable showbiz melodrama were precluded from reaching moviegoers who might be interested in the actual content of the picture. No big loss either way, but still. In any event, a couple of peculiar things about Disco Fever are worth mentioning. Famed radio personality and sometimes actor Casey Kasem plays the teen idol’s manager—making this the second of two movies in which Kasem served as Forte’s foil, the first being Soul Hustler (1973). Additionally, George Barris, the self-proclaimed “King of the Customizers” whose main claim to fame was creating the Batmobile for the 1960s Batman TV show, not only appears as himself in this movie, but he also wrote the story and served as one of the project’s executive producers. Holy Random Credits, Batman!

Disco Fever: LAME

No comments: