Dirty Dancing (1987)

PG-13 | 100 mins | Drama, Romance | 21 August 1987

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HISTORY

Opening credits are superimposed over slow-motion black and white footage of “dirty” dancers from the party scene in “Johnny Castle’s” bungalow. As the story begins, Jennifer Grey provides voice-over narration as her character, “Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman”: “That was the summer of 1963, when everybody called me ‘Baby’ and it didn’t occur to me to mind. That was before President Kennedy was shot; before The Beatles came; when I couldn’t wait to join the Peace Corps; and I thought I’d never find a guy as great as my dad. That was the summer we went to Kellerman’s.”
       According to a 9 Sep 1987 LAT article, writer Eleanor Bergstein first conceived an idea for a screenplay set in the early 1960s involving two sisters learning to dance. Bergstein shared the concept with Linda Gottlieb, then working as an East Coast producer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), before casually mentioning her past experience as a “dirty” dancer. Immediately recognizing the commercial potential of the title Dirty Dancing, Gottlieb convinced MGM to finance script development. However, before production began, a change in studio management sent the script into turnaround. The project was rejected by all the major studios, and Gottlieb eventually left MGM to co-write a novel. During this time, she took the script to Vestron, Inc., after reading a NYT article announcing the Stamford, CT-based company’s intent to launch a motion picture division. Vestron Pictures agreed to produce the film on condition Gottlieb could complete production on a low budget of $5 million.
       The 21 Aug 1987 NYT reported that Gottlieb and Bergstein reached out to dance director Emile Ardolino in Mar 1986, believing that ... More Less

Opening credits are superimposed over slow-motion black and white footage of “dirty” dancers from the party scene in “Johnny Castle’s” bungalow. As the story begins, Jennifer Grey provides voice-over narration as her character, “Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman”: “That was the summer of 1963, when everybody called me ‘Baby’ and it didn’t occur to me to mind. That was before President Kennedy was shot; before The Beatles came; when I couldn’t wait to join the Peace Corps; and I thought I’d never find a guy as great as my dad. That was the summer we went to Kellerman’s.”
       According to a 9 Sep 1987 LAT article, writer Eleanor Bergstein first conceived an idea for a screenplay set in the early 1960s involving two sisters learning to dance. Bergstein shared the concept with Linda Gottlieb, then working as an East Coast producer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), before casually mentioning her past experience as a “dirty” dancer. Immediately recognizing the commercial potential of the title Dirty Dancing, Gottlieb convinced MGM to finance script development. However, before production began, a change in studio management sent the script into turnaround. The project was rejected by all the major studios, and Gottlieb eventually left MGM to co-write a novel. During this time, she took the script to Vestron, Inc., after reading a NYT article announcing the Stamford, CT-based company’s intent to launch a motion picture division. Vestron Pictures agreed to produce the film on condition Gottlieb could complete production on a low budget of $5 million.
       The 21 Aug 1987 NYT reported that Gottlieb and Bergstein reached out to dance director Emile Ardolino in Mar 1986, believing that his work on several award-winning PBS (Public Broadcasting System) dance specials made him an ideal choice to portray the correlation between the characters, music, and choreography. In the early 1980s, Ardolino had unsuccessfully attempted to transition from television features to theatrical films, but returned to New York City to produce and direct the documentary, He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’ (1983), which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Feature). Ardolino read the script for Dirty Dancing while serving jury duty in Manhattan, and immediately connected to the story and with the period music, which was reminiscent of his childhood.
       The 24 Sep 1986 Var indicated that principal photography began two days earlier under the production company, Dancing Productions. End credit acknowledgments state that the picture was filmed in part at the Mountain Lake Hotel in Pembroke, VA, and Lure Woods in Lake Lure, NC. Although the story takes place in upstate New York, Gottlieb saved money by scouting locations in “right-to-work” states, which allowed the use of non-union crews. A 3 Dec 1986 HR item announced the completion of production, and various sources reported a final cost ranging from $5.2 million to $6 million.
       The film marked the reunion of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, who previously co-starred in Red Dawn (1984, see entry).
       The 9 Sep 1987 LAT stated that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Classifications and Ratings Administration twice gave the film an R rating, even though all nudity had already been removed. While the filmmakers strived for a family-friendly PG rating, they accepted the MPAA’s PG-13 rating following the third submission.
       As reported in the 11 Nov 1987 LAT, the original 24 Jul 1987 release date was delayed nearly a month to avoid competition with other “youth-oriented” pictures. According to a 27 Aug 1987 HR article, the 17 Aug 1987 premiere in New York City was followed by a “nationwide roadshow” that included screenings for AFI in Washington, D.C., and the Directors Guild of America in West Hollywood, CA.
       Following generally positive critical reviews, a 3 Sep 1987 DV advertisement announced a ten-day domestic total of $10,025,295 from 975 theaters, and $170 million worldwide. Dirty Dancing quickly became one of the most successful independent feature films up to that time, and its popularity at the box-office continued well into the following year. On 13 Jan 1988, HR reported that the picture had earned $57.3 million to date, and was still playing on 809 screens across the country, despite having already been released on home video on 6 Jan 1988.
       In addition to the film’s unprecedented success, the soundtrack album quickly rose to the top of the pop charts and went platinum in just five weeks. According to the 11 Nov 1987 LAT, RCA Records produced the album for the relatively low cost of $200,000, since all but two of the original songs were performed by artists that did not have established record contracts. Hoping to synchronize album sales with the film’s opening, the label debuted “The Time Of My Life” in late Jun 1987. When the release date was unexpectedly pushed back to Aug, RCA struggled to convince programmers to play the song, but the movie’s hit status eventually propelled the song to the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
       Following numerous requests from fans, a 12 Mar 1988 Billboard news story announced that RCA agreed to release a second album titled More Dirty Dancing, which featured eight “oldies” and seven instrumentals not included on the original soundtrack. In 2003, the full tracklist was remastered and re-released as Ultimate Dirty Dancing, followed by a special twentieth anniversary edition in 2007, which included the previously unreleased “Gazebo Waltz” by Michael Lloyd, and listed the songs in the order in which they were used in the film.
       Items in the 21 Apr 1988 HR and Apr 1988 issue of Playboy stated that the Dirty Dancing phenomenon inspired a live concert tour incorporating movie clips and concert performances of the hit soundtrack, while several background dancers from the film began teaching public classes. Additionally, the Dec 1988 Playboy reported that the Mountain Lake Hotel, where exteriors were shot, had experienced a twenty-five to thirty percent increase in bookings since the film’s release, and began hosting Dirty Dancing themed weekends featuring Patrick Swayze look-alike competitions and mambo lessons.
       “Time Of My Life” won the Academy Award for Best Music (Original Song), and ranked #86 on AFI’s 2004 list of 100 Years…100 Songs. In 2002, AFI ranked Dirty Dancing #93 on its 100 Years…100 Passions list, while the quote, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” was #98 on the 2005 list of 100 Years…100 Quotes.
       The 31 Jul 1997 HR announced that Dirty Dancing was to be reissued to theaters nationwide for a special tenth anniversary engagement. Grey and Swayze were among those who attended a premiere at the Universal City Cineplex benefitting AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) Healthcare Foundation in honor of director Emile Ardolino, who died of the disease in 1993.
       According to the 24 Apr 1997 LADN, Live Entertainment spent several years attempting to develop a sequel for Patrick Swayze’s character, but the project never came to fruition. In 2004, Miramax Films released a poorly received remake, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (see entry), which set a similar story against the backdrop of the Cuban Revolution. Swayze made a brief appearance in the film as a dance class instructor. However, enduring affection for the original film prompted its revival as a stage musical of the same name. The show debuted 21 Aug 2014 at the Pullo Family Performing Arts Center in York, PA, before launching its national tour at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. As of 19 Apr 2016, production was underway on a remake starring Abigail Breslin, set to air on the ABC Television Network.
       End credits state: "Special Thanks to Jimmy Ienner"; “Special Thanks to: Michael Goldman, Jackie Horner, The Blue Hole Canoe Company, Merrimack Canoe Company”; and, “The Producers gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the Virginia and North Carolina Film Commissions.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Billboard
12 Mar 1988.
---
Daily Variety
3 Sep 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 1986
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 1987
p. 3, 6.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1987
p. 1, 11.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 1988
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 1988
p. 5.
Los Angeles Daily News
24 Apr 1997.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Aug 1987
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
9 Sep 1987
Section VI, p. 1, 7.
Los Angeles Times
11 Nov 1987
p. 1, 6.
New York Times
21 Aug 1987
p. 3.
New York Times
21 Aug 1987.
---
Playboy
Apr 1988.
---
Playboy
Dec 1988.
---
Variety
24 Sep 1986.
---
Variety
20 May 1987
p. 104.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Vestron Pictures Presentation
in association with Great American Films Limited Partnership
A Linda Gottlieb Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam® op
Steadicam® op
Steadicam® op
Spec still photog
Best boy
Generator
Key grip
Dolly grip
Lighting and grip equip
Lighting and grip equip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Logo des
FILM EDITORS
Addl dance ed
Post-prod supv
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Const coord
Set dec
Prop master
Set dresser
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus supv
Mus score
Period mus consultant
Scoring eng
Mus clearances
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
Dolby Stereo consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main and end titles des by
DANCE
Choreog
Asst choreog
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Prod supv
Loc coord
Loc coord
Prod auditor
Asst auditor
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Picture cars
Craft service
Caterer
Caterer
Casting asst
Casting asst
Extras casting
Extras casting
Dance casting
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Asst to prods
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Projection equip
Prod exec
Financial consultant
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"Be My Baby," performed by The Ronettes, courtesy of Phil Spector International, Inc., produced by Phil Spector
"Big Girls Don't Cry," performed by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, courtesy of Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli, dba The Four Seasons Partnership
"Merengue," written by Erich Bulling, John D'Andrea, and Michael Lloyd
+
SONGS
"Be My Baby," performed by The Ronettes, courtesy of Phil Spector International, Inc., produced by Phil Spector
"Big Girls Don't Cry," performed by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, courtesy of Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli, dba The Four Seasons Partnership
"Merengue," written by Erich Bulling, John D'Andrea, and Michael Lloyd
"Fox Trot And Waltz," written by Michael Lloyd and John D'Andrea
"Johnny's Mambo," written by Erich Bulling, John D'Andrea, and Michael Lloyd
"Where Are You Tonight," performed by Tom Johnston, written by Mark Scola, produced by Leon Medica for Inside Track, Inc.
"Do You Love Me," performed by The Contours, words and music by Berry Gordy, used by permission of Motown Recording Corp. and Jobete Music Co., Inc.
"Love Man," performed by Otis Redding, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Stay," performed by Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
"Wipe Out," performed by The Surfaris, courtesy of MCA Records
"Hungry Eyes," performed by Eric Carmen, written by Franke Previte and John DeNicola, produced by Eric Carmen
"Overload," performed by Zappacosta, written by Alfie Zappacosta and Marko Luciani, produced by Alfie Zappacosta
"Hey Baby," performed by Bruce Channel, courtesy of Le Cam Records
"De Todo Un Poco," performed by Melon, written by Lou Perez, published by Vaya Publishing, Inc.
"Some Kind Of Wonderful," performed by The Drifters, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"These Arms Of Mine," performed by Otis Redding, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Cry To Me," performed by Solomon Burke, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Will You Love Me Tomorrow," performed by The Shirelles, courtesy of Gusto Records, under license from CBS Special Products
"Love Is Strange," performed by Mickey & Sylvia, courtesy of Sugar Hill Records
"You Don't Own Me," performed by The Blow Monkeys, produced by Peter Wilson and Doctor Robert, The Blow Monkeys--Courtesy of RCA/Ariola International
"Yes," performed by Merry Clayton, written by Terry Fryer, Neal Cavanaugh, and Tom Graf, produced by Michael Lloyd for Mike Curb Productions
"In The Still Of The Nite," performed by The Five Satins, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
"She's Like The Wind," performed by Patrick Swayze, featuring Wendy Fraser, written by Patrick Swayze and Stacy Widelitz, produced by Michael Lloyd for Mike Curb Productions
"The Time Of My Life," performed by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, written by Franke Previte, Donald Markowitz, and John DeNicola, produced by Michael Lloyd for Mike Curb Productions, Jennifer Warnes--Courtesy of Cypress Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
21 August 1987
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 17 August 1987
Los Angeles and New York openings: 21 August 1987
Production Date:
began 22 September 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Great American Films Joint Venture
Copyright Date:
7 April 1988
Copyright Number:
PA378802
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
100
Length(in feet):
9,022
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28371
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the summer of 1963, seventeen-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman vacations with her family at Kellerman’s Mountain House in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. The younger of two daughters, Baby is revered by her wealthy parents for her aspirations to attend college and join the Peace Corps. Within the first few days, she grows bored by the resort’s family-oriented activities and sneaks into a secret staff party, where the guests participate in provocative “dirty” dancing. As she timidly watches from the sidelines, womanizing dance instructor Johnny Castle pulls her onto the dance floor for a brief lesson. One night, Baby learns that Johnny’s longtime dance partner, Penny Johnson, has been impregnated by a smarmy hotel waiter named Robbie Gould. When Robbie refuses to help pay for an abortion, Baby asks to borrow money from her father, Dr. Jake Houseman. After reluctantly accepting the cash, Penny is forced to schedule the procedure on the same date as her upcoming show with Johnny at the Sheldrake, a neighboring hotel. Johnny worries they will lose the job, so Baby volunteers to fill in as Penny’s replacement. Although Johnny is reluctant to teach her, Baby is a dedicated student and gradually becomes more confident of her abilities. The night of the performance, she anxiously blunders several moves, but Johnny is impressed by her hard work. Back at Kellerman’s, Penny suffers complications from her botched abortion, and Baby runs to her father for help. Although he treats Penny, Dr. Houseman is disappointed in Baby for lying to him and forbids her to associate with Johnny, whom he mistakenly believes to be responsible for Penny’s pregnancy. Once Dr. Houseman leaves, Baby sneaks back to ... +


In the summer of 1963, seventeen-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman vacations with her family at Kellerman’s Mountain House in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. The younger of two daughters, Baby is revered by her wealthy parents for her aspirations to attend college and join the Peace Corps. Within the first few days, she grows bored by the resort’s family-oriented activities and sneaks into a secret staff party, where the guests participate in provocative “dirty” dancing. As she timidly watches from the sidelines, womanizing dance instructor Johnny Castle pulls her onto the dance floor for a brief lesson. One night, Baby learns that Johnny’s longtime dance partner, Penny Johnson, has been impregnated by a smarmy hotel waiter named Robbie Gould. When Robbie refuses to help pay for an abortion, Baby asks to borrow money from her father, Dr. Jake Houseman. After reluctantly accepting the cash, Penny is forced to schedule the procedure on the same date as her upcoming show with Johnny at the Sheldrake, a neighboring hotel. Johnny worries they will lose the job, so Baby volunteers to fill in as Penny’s replacement. Although Johnny is reluctant to teach her, Baby is a dedicated student and gradually becomes more confident of her abilities. The night of the performance, she anxiously blunders several moves, but Johnny is impressed by her hard work. Back at Kellerman’s, Penny suffers complications from her botched abortion, and Baby runs to her father for help. Although he treats Penny, Dr. Houseman is disappointed in Baby for lying to him and forbids her to associate with Johnny, whom he mistakenly believes to be responsible for Penny’s pregnancy. Once Dr. Houseman leaves, Baby sneaks back to Johnny’s bungalow and apologizes for her father’s prejudice. Coming from a working-class background, Johnny admits he has always had a low opinion of himself, but Baby insists he has inspired her to be a better person. After sharing a passionate dance, she and Johnny make love. The next morning, Dr. Houseman announces the family will be leaving early, but grudgingly changes his mind when Baby’s older sister, Lisa, protests. Ignoring her father’s warning, Baby continues her affair with Johnny. As the end of the season approaches, hotel management goads Johnny into changing the final dance routine for the closing night variety show while rudely ignoring all his suggestions. When Baby urges him to stand up for himself, Johnny angrily reminds her that she still keeps their relationship a secret from her family. Due to his deepening affection for Baby, however, Johnny refuses to continue providing sexual favors for Vivian Pressman, one of the resort’s regular visitors. Early one morning, Vivian sees Baby leaving Johnny’s bungalow. Jealous, she accuses Johnny of stealing from her husband and several of the other guests. To provide a legitimate alibi, Baby is forced to reveal that she spent the night in Johnny’s cabin, once again upsetting her father. Despite her good intentions, however, Johnny is fired for consorting with Baby, and he leaves the resort. During the closing night show, Baby watches listlessly as Lisa sings a cheerless pageant number with members of the staff. Suddenly, Johnny interrupts the concert and pulls Baby onstage to perform the final dance of the season. They reprise the sensual mambo routine they danced at the Sheldrake, and successfully execute a difficult lift. Afterward, Dr. Houseman learns the truth about Penny’s pregnancy and admits he misjudged Johnny. Baby and Johnny passionately embrace as the other guests join them on the dance floor. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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