A Film That Almost Wasn't | Film | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Coverage for Central Oregon, by Central Oregonians.
100% Local. No Paywalls.

Every day, the Source publishes a mix of locally reported stories on our website, keeping you up to date on developments in news, food, music and the arts. We’re committed to covering this city where we live, this city that we love, and we hear regularly from readers who appreciate our ability to put breaking news in context.

The Source has been a free publication for its 22 years. It has been free as a print version and continued that way when we began to publish online, on social media and through our newsletters.

But, as most of our readers know, times are different for local journalism. Tech giants are hoovering up small businesses and small-business advertising—which has been the staple for locally owned media. Without these resources, journalism struggles to bring coverage of community news, arts and entertainment that social media cannot deliver.

Please consider becoming a supporter of locally owned journalism through our Source Insider program. Learn more about our program’s benefits by clicking through today.

Support Us Here

Screen » Film

A Film That Almost Wasn't

What would the world be without Dirty Dancing?

by

comment

Nobody puts baby in a corner! The same can be said for the actual film "Dirty Dancing," which was never intended—or remotely expected—to be a blockbuster cultural icon. Yet, the movie introduced a new term to the world, grandly mirrored the same loss-of-innocence of one Jewish-American girl to that of America in 1963, had a soundtrack that went double platinum, was the first movie to sell 1 million videotapes (which in 2013 numbers would be like 100 billion YouTube viewings!) and has had more girlfriends than I can count on one hand pillow-talk-telling me that their first "tinglings" were discovered somewhere in the emotional vicinity of Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing.

All of which is to say: Yes, it is a great movie. (Is it uncouth to tell Roger Ebert to screw himself for giving the movie a thumbs down for its "idiot plot"?)

Originally slated to go straight to video, the film really never was meant to be more than a middling production, a textured but otherwise sweet semi-autobiographical story. The film certainly didn't have the makings of success: Although director Emile Ardolino had won an Oscar for his 1983 documentary, He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin', he had never directed a feature film. And the studio, a now-defunct subsidiary of MGM, only dished out $5 million for production—about one third the cost of most Hollywood films at the time—and allocated a truncated shooting time of six weeks.

And the actors? Fuhgetabot'it!

Neither of the leads was a box office draw at the time. Swayze had completed The Outsiders three years earlier, and had teamed up again with C. Thomas Howell to star in Red Dawn (to be shown during Swayze Summer on Aug. 21). And Jennifer Grey, the daughter of the magnetic actor Joel Grey (Cabaret), was heir to theatrical talent but otherwise had skinny little in her résumé to stand on. And, the two together? They hated each other—a palatable aversion that brought production to tires-burning halts. But that chemistry is what director Ardolino captures like lightning in a bottle.

Although often dismissed as '80s camp, Dirty Dancing has a serious and well-managed subplot about a botched abortion as the catalyst for a young teenager coming-of-age and deepening her respect for her father. Sure, laugh at the stilted dialogue and overly earnest hairdos, but also give thanks to the Hollywood gods that the movie ever even found the light of day, especially considering that after the first screening one MGM executive recommended "Burn the negative and collect the insurance." Join us for the second installment in Swayze Summer.

Old Stone Church

157 NW Franklin Ave.

8 pm

Free

About The Author

Add a comment

More by Phil Busse