DIRTY DANCING is a rare phenomenon where the stars just seemed to align themselves to shine brightly upon it. The mass public turned the film into a modern classic in it’s own right. Sure it’s no CITIZEN KANE but it definitely deserves recognition how it’s own sweet simplicity has ingrained itself into pop culture.
All the working parts seemed to be the right fit. From the music and dance to the costuming and production design, all helped the incredible performances that may have unwittingly delivered everything with a tongue-and-cheek sincerity. A lot of the credit may belong to the wonderfully fun-hearted script.
In the 1960’s, Frances Housman, known as Baby (Jennifer Gray), and her wealthy family decide to spend their summer at an uppity resort in upstate New York’s Catskill Mountains. Daddy’s little girl unexpectedly becomes infatuated with the free life style of the hired entertainment led by Johnny (Patrick Swayze) and his dance instructing crew. Baby gets herself more involved when she borrows money from her daddy to help one of the dancers, Penny (Cynthia Rhodes), pay for an illegal abortion. Now Baby must learn the steps to take her place as Johnny’s dance partner in an upcoming performance. During the process the two develop strong feelings for each other. Together their relationship must overcome their differences in family, class and lifestyle.
A lot of credit goes to the performance and chemistry between the two leads. Swayze definitely embodies Johnny with strength and bad boy charisma. He gives hope to all straight men not to be ashamed to dance like Gene Kelly. Gray is completely underrated as Baby. She charmingly pulls off a nearly impossible natural performance as a naïve, insecure girl transitioning to a confident young woman learning about love, life and dance.
From the opening scene with the black and white close up of the dirty dancing to the final post “Nobody puts baby in a corner” dance sequence, DIRTY DANCING is fully aware of itself following the music and dance through the eyes of a young woman. The lines are instantly quotable and the dramatic scenes, while a little corny, bring the audience into the moment. This film transcends quality and becomes it’s own entity for a generation.
Video: I would have liked a more crisp transfer but the film still looked good. The colors come through nicely at the summer resort. This is a significant improvement over the first Blu-ray release of DIRTY DANCING.
Audio: The dance and music is a driving force to the film and it sounded great.
Commentary with Writer/Co-Producer Eleanor Bergstein: She gives very detailed information on the making of the film. It is clear that she is very passionate about the project.
Commentary with Kenny Ortega, Miranda Garrison, Jeff Jur, Hilary Rosenfield and David Champman: A combination of people who worked on the film including the production designer, cinematographer, choreographer and costume designer all chime in and give their perspectives.
Trivia Track: A pop up video commentary that I think will be highly enjoyably next time you watch the film.
Kellerman’s: Reliving the Locations of the Film (12:24): The first half is about the set design and art direction to make several locations feel like it was on one property. The second half is more of an advertisement for the Kellerman Ranch where people can stay and tour the place where DIRTY DANCING was filmed.
Dirty Dancing: The Phenomenon (13:43): This explains the beginning process of how the film came to be and how all the elements lined up perfectly to create the generational classic.
Dancing to the Music (16:32): An extremely fascinating look at all the famous songs from the film, how they came to be and their journey with the film, going number 1 and eventually even winning an Academy Award for “The Time of the Life.” If you are into the music this is very interesting.
The Rhythm of the Dancing (4:08): Patrick Swayze talks about being inspired to write ”She’s Like the Wind.”
Never-Before-Seen Photo Gallery: A photo gallery of several shots from the film
Tributes: In Memoriam (1:58) Remembering those who passed away including: Jack Weston, Max Cantor, Patrick Swayze, Emile Ardolina and Jerry Orbach with extended interviews with loved ones of the last three.
A Tribute to Patrick Swayze (15:15): 1952-2009
Emile Ardolina Tribute (13:28): 1943-1993
Tribute to Jerry Orbach (6:33): 1935-2004
Fan Reel (1:42): Pictures and home videos of people expressing their love for the film.
James and Julia Derbyshire: Dancing Across the Pond (4:34): An interview with a couple who became a YouTube sensation after reenacted the famous dance during their wedding reception. Apparently they even made it on Oprah with Swayze. One major thing missing- the actual dance and Oprah appearance. Worthless.
Theatrical Trailer (2:25):
Eleanor Bergstein Script: This is the script (not in it’s entirety) to scroll through and read.
Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze (12:28): An interview with Swayze about the film, his work and the rest of the team behind it. Portions of this are rehashed in some of the other featurettes.
Outtakes (0:38): That’s right, 38 seconds. Don’t blink.
“Hungry Eyes” Music Video (3:46): Performed by Eric Carmen
“She’s Like the Wind” Music Video (3:52): Performed by Patrick Swayze
“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” Music Video (4:43): Performed by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
Multi-Angle Dance Sequences: The viewer chooses which shot to watch during the ending dance sequence with The Lift and Everybody Dance. This would have been better if it immediately switched the shot you chose like a real edit rather than having a delay between choices.
Cast Interviews: These are very long extensive interviews done individually in a casual setting. Some of it’s very interesting and some of it is very boring.
Jennifer Grey (11:36)
Eleanor Bergstein (18:36)
Miranda Garrison (13:19)
Kenny Ortega (15:21)
Original Screen Tests: A montage of Swayze and Grey dancing together, then Grey performing a couple of screen test scenes followed by the actual scenes for comparison.
Deleted, Alternate and Extended Scenes: 11 deleted scenes, 3 alternate scenes and 7 extended scenes. There were a few gems in here. One interesting factor is a few scenes contain a different actress as the mother they had to reshoot after she became sick.
Vintage Featurette (6:45): Director, actors and cinematographer talk about the importance of the dancing in the film. FYI, Choreographer Kenny Ortega is the same man who directed Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT.
Dirty Dancing Live in Concert (1:22:56): A big concert with performance by some of the original singers and songs from the motion pictures along with original dirty dancers. The final performance is of course the Academy Award winning song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”
Commemorative Book and Digital Copy