The country club performance hall is packed of upper-class, suburban whites- all buzzing in the humdrum of bland conversations about what's to come after summer and so on, listening to the Kellerman Anthem being sung on stage. Sitting at a table in the far-left corner of the room is Baby and her family- with her and her father sulking in resentment, distrust, and misunderstanding within each other, much to the ignorance of her mother and sister. You can feel the sadness and utter boredom sending distress signals from Baby's face, as she watches people performing the show they'd spent all summer learning in 9:00AM classes, while she actually walked across the "wrong side of the tracks" and learned about life, passionate love, and of course, dirty dancing. All of that seemed lost to her now, and she couldn’t find her way back into this silent bubble (not like she much wanted to), but she so badly wanted to escape it anyways. And just when all hope of color in her life seems to be slowly fading away, in walks Johnny Castle- the hooded eyed, perfectly quaffed-haired "bad boy" dancer she had fallen madly in love with over the course of this hot and heavy summer. As he stalks towards Baby's table with a fiery determination, all eyes are fixated on what will happen next... When he gets to that table, he looks around at everyone sitting down, with a brand new sense of confidence and urgency, and he says the iconic line, "Nobody puts baby in a corner." And that's it! Baby jumps up like she'd just gotten a shot of adrenaline right through to her heart, and the music gets louder with a new exuberance, and the color is back in her life and the film.
When Johnny says that line, I can feel all the giddiness crawl up my arms, to my face, and until it reaches my mouth where I let out a tiny squeal. This moment, I've seen it 100 times over, and I still have the same reaction every time. I burst alive with Baby in that moment, and I almost feel like I can dance too... I can't, but the sentiment is still there.
Netflix recently came out with a show called, The Movies That Made Us, where they delve into the history and the making (and almost not making) of beloved films, like Home Alone and Dirty Dancing. This new docuseries- criminally only containing FOUR episodes- is a treat for anyone who loves movies.
The classic film, Dirty Dancing (1987), had a long, rocky road before it would find itself in the film hall of fame, and this Netflix series captures that journey in an emotional, funny, and educational way. It was Eleanor Bergstein who wrote that iconic moment at the end of the film, and the entirety of that classic, memorable, and passionate experience. It was Linda Gottlieb who was her partner-in-crime and producer through every step of the way. It was Kenny Ortega who choregraphed the beautiful final number, with that stunning lift that has been duplicated in popular culture since its first monumental landing in theaters in 1987. It was Emile Ardolino's vision and life of dancing that captures and beautifies the different dance scenes and sensual emotions that drive this film. It was the work of crewmen and so many more people who found and perfected locations, found the perfect music (I've Had the Time of My Life, by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes), and made sure this script didn't die in the hands of corporate men that didn't "understand" it. And it was Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze who stole our hearts, with their sparked chemistry, masterful dance skills, and enigmatic performances that contributed to that spectacular ending to a perfect film for the ages.
There are retellings and recounts of memorable and life-changing moments by the cast, crew, and team behind Dirty Dancing. The stories behind these films are worth hearing and watching, and there's nothing better than hearing it straight from the sources themselves, as they reminisce on the days they spent 24 hours filming and fighting for the female vision against a time-period of action blockbusters. The inspiration behind the writing, the motivation of the cast, the pressures from production and distribution companies, and the overall gritty and dog-eat-dog world of Hollywood is laid out in a 45-minute, 4-episode series, and you can't help but crave more! What's even more emotional about these retellings are the people lost since their release and the love for the craft you still see in the eyes of the creators. I cried watching the Home Alone episode, but it was the Dirty Dancing episode that truly stole my heart with this show. It recounts the steps two underdog and overlooked women in the industry took to get their dream recognized, and it displays their triumph in the end, after being told their story was too girly, too sexual, and too political. It honors the memories of Patrick Swayze, Emile Ardolino, and Jerry Orbach in a way that can't help but bring you to tears.
The documentary series, with a narrator giving you a cartoonish retelling of events, actually has a lot more substance than what meets the eye. I'm almost surprised there isn't a laugh track, but that's beside the point. The cutaways and animated editing are a small portion of the docu-series where there is a whole lot to indulge in. Netflix's new series definitely deserves more than 4 episodes, and I hope audiences (me) are treated to more. I definitely believe this show is worth your time, and I would recommend starting with this episode. The women behind the film stopped at no dead end, but turned around and tried another route until they came out literally on top- making the highest grossing independent film of its time, winning a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Song.
My name is Jacinda, and I am a film lover and student. Check out more of my pieces at Flipscreened!
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