Jennifer Grey had already been trained as a dancer. She was only 27 years old when the movie was filmed. Patrick Swayze was 34 and an accomplished dancer himself. He and Grey had worked together three years earlier in Red Dawn. Grey didn’t really want to work with Swayze again, saying that they hadn’t gotten along well on their previous film. However, the two actors worked out their differences and made movie history with their electric chemistry on the screen.
The story takes place in 1963 in the Catskill Mountains where the Kellerman family is vacationing. Dr. Kellerman (Jerry Orbach) is a Jewish physician who is a friend of the resort’s owner. He and his wife have two daughters. One daughter’s name is Frances, but she is called “Baby” by her family. Baby is 17 years old and going to Mount Holyoke College in the fall. While at the resort, Baby is captivated by a dancing instructor named Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). She is invited to one of the staff parties, where she sees Johnny and his friends dancing in a “dirty” way.
Later, Baby finds out that Johnny’s dance partner, Penny Johnson (Cynthia Rhodes), is pregnant and the father is another staff member. Penny gets an abortion and starts hemorrhaging afterwards. She refuses to go to a doctor because abortions are illegal. Baby feels sorry for Penny and convinces her physician father to help Penny. Dr. Kellerman saves Penny’s life. However, he falsely assumes that Johnny was the man who fathered Penny’s baby. He forbids Baby to associate with Johnny and his “lowly” friends again.
Dirty Dancing, which was made on a budget of only five million dollars, earned over two hundred million dollars worldwide. The movie made history when the video was the first one to sell over a million copies. Several songs from the movie became famous. “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” won a the Academy Award for Best Original Song, the Grammy Award for best duet, and a Golden Globe award. Another song, “She’s Like the Wind,” was written by Patrick Swayze and Stacy Widelitz. Swayze even sings it in the movie. The dance scenes in this movie, as well as the music, played a major part in the film’s popularity. Some women consider it the most romantic film in history. It certainly made Patrick Swayze famous.
The movie wasn’t filmed in the Catskill Mountains in New York. It was filmed at Lake Lure in North Carolina and the Mountain Lake Resort near Roanoke, Virginia. Lake Lure is a beautiful place and I have been there on a vacation. It is famous not only for being one of the settings in Dirty Dancing; a scene from the movie The Last of the Mohicans was filmed there as well. The lake scenes were supposed to be in the summer, however, it was October and the leaves were changing colors. The leaves had to be painted green. The last line of the movie is famous, but I cannot include it in my review because I would give away the ending.
If you have never seen Dirty Dancing, it is a must see movie. It is my favorite romantic movie. The songs are outstanding and on my iPod. I think it is Patrick Swayze’s best movie. I was so sad when Patrick died, but with Dirty Dancing and Ghost he leaves behind a great legacy in the movies.