Studio 54 – Review

Worth seeing: for an insight into one of 1970s New York's most infamous celebrity hangouts and the rise and fall of its founders
Director:Matt Tyrnauer
Featuring:Steve Rubell, Ian Schrager
Length:98 minutes
Released:15th June 2018


This charts the short-lived history of New York’s infamous disco nightclub Studio 54, which became a magnet for beautiful celebrities, casual sex, drugs and a place of excess. It was the “it” spot to be in the late 1970s.


It is like stepping back into the psychedelic, hedonistic seventies and you just want to be part of that extraordinary disco ball scene. Words I never thought I would say or let alone write in print.

It provides an eye opening look into the glitz and the controversy of Studio 54, opened in 1977, and the rise and damning fall of its co-founders Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, who were two best friends from Brooklyn turned entrepreneurs.

Through rare footage, archive interviews with Rubell and a brutally honest interview with Schrager himself, film-maker Matt Tyrnauer delivers a visceral and sheer cinematic documentary which gives you a rare snapshot of this era and this iconic night spot during its 33-month long existence.

Former patrons and staff paint a colourful picture of a den of greed, fame and iniquity which one ex-patron describes as a world of fantasy that absolutely exploded, while another says “it was also a haven for inclusion and acceptance.” Schrager and Rubell’s idea was to have a mix of rich, poor, gay, straight, old and young. According to a former attendee, “Everyone felt like they had to be there.”

Studio 54 attracted the likes of Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli and Michael Jackson to name but a few. Anyone who was anyone wanted to be seen and snapped there. This film also shows the angry crowds waiting outside, being denied entry as the nightclub’s popularity grew.

Tyrnauer also examines the human story behind this establishment’s phenomenon, which became a byword for this era, and the naïve owners who got sucked in by the fame and wealth and ended up being jailed and fined for a number of offences, including tax evasion.

It is a remarkable story and an impressive piece of film-making which will seduce and win over even the most ardent disco haters.