“Dirty Dancing” is a classic movie released in 1987, based on screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein’s own childhood. Set in the sixties in a New York’s Catskill Mountains resort, Dirty Dancing is a dance version of “Eastside Girl meet Westside Boy”. It was produced by Vestron Pictures with a budget of only $5 million, a two week rehearsal timeframe and a 44 day shooting schedule. Amazingly, shooting concluded on time and on budget! Filming began in September with temperatures at 105 degrees and pushed into Autumn temperatures in the 40s.
The stage version of the Dirty Dancing script, has been performed to enthusiastic audiences in Australia, Europe, and North America, and will open on Broadway toward the end of 2009.
Dirty Dancing Becomes an 80’s Blockbuster!
Wikipedia states about Dirty Dancing, “As of 2007, it has earned $300 million worldwide. It was the first film to sell more than a million copies on home video.” Their research indicates that the soundtrack resulted in two multi-platinum albums and multiple singles. Huge hits were born from the Dirty Dancing movie such as: Grammy award winner,” I’ve Had the Time of My Life”, and hits “She’s Like the Wind”, and “Hungry Eyes”.
Jennifer Grey plays Francis, a teenaged daddy’s girl who has grown up in an affluent family. She and her family are vacationing in the Catskills during the last summer before she goes away to college, Her father, a doctor, has plans for her to graduate college, make something out of her life and marry someone prestigous.
Early on in the movie Francis (or Baby as her father calls her) becomes smitten with the camp’s dance instructor, Johnny Castle, who is played by Patrick Swayze. Johnny’s background has been one of struggle, in total contrast to the type of life Francis’ Father would want for her. Regardless, due to his handsome face, charm and dance moves, she finds herself drawn to him.
Dirty Dancing: Abortion Controversy?
Dirty Dancing broaches the controversial subject of abortion which is introduced in this classic Dirty Dancing scene:
One evening, Francis accepts an invitation to attend a private party thrown by the resort’s staff, where she gets to join in the fun and watch the group’s sensual dance fest. During the party, she finds Johnny’s dance partner, Penny, crying in the kitchen. She learns that Penny is pregnant and assumes the child is Johnny’s. Later she finds out the real father (who has dumped Penny) is actually Robby, a waiter at the resort who is dating her own sister with her father’s approval!
Relieved that Johnny isn’t the father and concerned for Penny, she decides to help out by lying to her father to obtain money for a secret abortion. Her father can’t say no to Baby and gives her the money without pressing her for the reason.
The Dirty Dancing Evolves into First Love
While Penny is recuperating, Johnny needs a dance partner for a scheduled dance performance at a nearby resort. He recruits Francis and puts her through rigorous dance training sessions, wherein they vacillate between anger and attraction. There is one magic moment when they wind up in an impassioned dance embrace and the audience can feel the heat between them.
Their much practiced dance performance goes well, but jitters get the best of Francis and she blows the final dance lift. As they return to the resort, she and Johnny learn that the abortion has gone terribly wrong and medical assistance is needed for Penny immediately.
Francis turns to her father for help, who rushes to Penny’s beside and averts an tragedy. However, thinking that Johnny is responsible for the pregnancy, her father forbids “Baby” from hanging around this type of dirty dancing crowd again.
Dirty Dancing – Rite of Passage for Baby
As teenagers still do, Baby ignores her father’s admonishment and goes to Johnny that evening. She is intent on telling him how sorry she is for her father’s harsh words, and winds up in his arms. This is her “coming of age” scene as she and Johnny end up spending the night together.
Early the next morning she is spotted leaving Johnny’s room by a jealous vacationer, who lies to management about Johnny stealing a wallet. In order to clear Johnny’s reputation, Francis becomes his alibi and admits she spent the night with him, much to her father’s disappointment. In spite of being cleared of the lie, Johnny is fired for having a liaison with a guest. (But for some reason Robbie wasn’t!) His spirit and attitude is transformed, however, by the simple fact that Baby stood up for him regardless of the repercussions she would face.
The Final Dirty Dance – Symbolic of Life
The final scene of the movie has been celebrated in movie theatres and seen onstage worldwide. Johnny returns to the resort, unemployed, to ask Francis for a final dance. He raises her from her corner seat, and before their dance he tells the audience how much she has changed his life for the better.
Johnny and Baby perform the final dance flawlessly, including the climatic lift at the end of the routine, which is purported to symbolize the characters rising to the challenges in their lives. During the dance, Baby’s mother, played by Marjorie Houseman, has her best line when she says, “I think she gets this from me”. After the dance, Baby’s father reveals that he learned Robbie was responsible for Penny’s pregnancy, not Johnny, and apologizes.
The characters have grown by their journey: Baby has transitioned into a woman, emotionally and physically; Johnny has learned to believe in himself and trust in others; and Francis’ father realizes she has grown up but will always be his “Baby”. However, after the final dance, we do not see our beloved Dirty Dancers ride off into the sunset and are left still to wonder: whatever happened to them?
IMDB, the internet movie database website, Dirty Dancing