We’re doing something a little different this summer for #WayBackWednesday! I asked the Fangirlish staff to tell me their favorite summer flicks–films they associate with summer, be that a film set in the summer, a film that was released in the summer, or a movie they spent a summer watching. Each writer will tell you why they chose their movie and I’ll be reviewing their film recommendations during June, July, and August. This is our Summer Vacation series! Pour yourself a glass of Kool-Aid, make some ramen, and find out how we spent our summer vacations each #WayBackWednesday.
As iconic and ubiquitous as Dirty Dancing is, particularly its soundtrack, I never watched Dirty Dancing until a couple of summers ago. I was petsitting for a friend and took advantage of her big TV and very nice soundbar while hanging out with her cat. I was struck by the depth of the film. While I was anticipating a light, romantic film with great music and dance numbers, what I got was a more serious film that deals with difficult issues. The great romantic story, great music, and dance numbers are just the icing on the cake. Did you spend your summers dancing the night away to Dirty Dancing? Fangirlish staff writer Jacqueline did! Check out the trailer for Dirty Dancing and then we’ll find out why Jacqueline picked it for her summer vacation movie this #WayBackWednesday.
Here’s why Jacqueline thinks Dirty Dancing is a movie you should fire up this summer.
“Dirty Dancing was released in the summer of 1987. From the moment I saw the trailer, at age 9, I knew I HAD to see it. The movie is set during the summer of 1963 at a family resort, but it was what happened on the hot summer nights that gave the movie its name. I’ve always been a romantic, this movie had dancing, romance, and Patrick Swayze!!
Not surprisingly, my parents did not allow me to see it in theatres as I was too young. But I did get to see it with my best friend a few months later when it came out on VHS. We LOVED IT! And I continue to it almost 34 years and countless rewatches later.
When I was young, I loved it for the dancing, music, and romance. We all wanted to be like Baby–go to a summer resort and hook up with the hot dance instructor. But as an adult, I loved it for being deeper than it appeared on the surface. The film deals with class issues, sexual assault, abortion, and what life was like for women in the early 1960s. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you check it out. It’s a great summer movie, and trust me, you will be rewatching it for years to come!”
In case you’ve never seen Dirty Dancing, here’s a quick rundown of the film.
Frances “Baby” Houseman is spending her summer at a resort in the Catskills with her upper-crust family in 1963. While there, Baby falls for the resort dance instructor, Johnny Castle, whose background is much different and lower class than her own. When Johnny’s dance partner becomes pregnant, Baby steps in to replace her. As Baby and Johnny fall in love, their opposite worlds begin to clash. Will their love persevere? You’ll have to watch Dirty Dancing to find out.
One of the best things about Dirty Dancing is its cast. You have Jennifer Grey (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the original Red Dawn) as Baby and the late, great Patrick Swayze (Ghost, Roadhouse) as Johnny. Playing Baby’s parents are Jerry Orbach (Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast) and Kelly Bishop (Grandma Gilmore in Gilmore Girls). Cynthia Rhodes (Flashdance) plays Penny, Johnny’s dance partner.
While you’ve got a lot of great individual cast members, this is a cast that meshes extremely well together. Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze have a chemistry that’s off the charts. Watching Kelly Bishop play Marjorie Houseman really makes me see how she landed the role of Emily Gilmore thirteen years later. She’s great at portraying interpersonal conflict with Baby here. There’s a lot to like when it comes to the cast for Dirty Dancing. If a solid cast is what you like in a movie, you’d do well to watch Dirty Dancing.
Almost a decade before I actually watched Dirty Dancing, I actually scored an original pressing of the film’s soundtrack on vinyl for just a couple of bucks at my local used record/book/movie/music shop. Even though I’d never seen the film, I’d heard most of the songs on the radio for most of my life and loved them. The film’s theme, “(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life” by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes still got tons of airplay well into the 90s on my local pop station, even outside of the all 80s request hour. “She’s Like the Wind” by Patrick Swayze featuring Wendy Fraser is iconic and encompasses Johnny’s feelings for Baby, and is made even more emotionally poignant with Swayze performing the song.
Other favorites for me from the soundtrack are “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes and “Hungry Eyes” by Eric Carmen. The soundtrack is a nice blend of 60s and 80s pop. The soundtrack encompasses the story’s time and also the time of the film’s release. If you’d like an album of nice pop tunes to groove to, definitely drop the needle on Dirty Dancing, but if you’re a little more modern than me, you can listen to the soundtrack on Spotify.
Aside from the film’s music, the only thing more iconic from Dirty Dancing is its choreography. I’m no dancer. In fact, the only dances I can do with great success are “The Awkward White Girl” or Fat Monica’s moves from Friends. But I’d like to think I can recognize incredible choreography when I see it. It’s not just the famous final dance number either, though I’ll confess that it gives me chills every time I watch it. So much emotion is conveyed in the film’s dance numbers. That off-the-charts chemistry that Johnny and Baby have is positively electric when they dance. The dance numbers tell as much of the story as the dialogue does. Definitely add Dirty Dancing to your watchlist if you enjoy some of the best and most iconic (and most parodied) dance numbers in film history.
Thanks very much to Jacqueline for recommending Dirty Dancing for this week’s #WayBackWednesday summer vacation movie! Jacqueline is our resident romance reader. If you’d like a great romantic read this summer, Jacqueline’s got something to recommend for you. Check out her takes on Canada’s romance writer scene, respect for the romance genre, romances that bring the happy, and recommendations for which romance series to check out after you’ve watched Bridgerton.
If you’d like to have the time of your life, be sure to check out Dirty Dancing.
Dirty Dancing is available for streaming with the Cinemax Prime Video Channel on Amazon Prime.