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Thursday, July 20, 2017

After Johnny was fired, he drove to the Sheldrake

Although Johnny Castle was exonerated from the accusation of stealing money, he still was fired for engaging in a sexual relationship with Baby Houseman, a young guest at the Kellerman resort hotel. By agreeing to "leave quietly", he still would receive his summer bonus.

Before Johnny departed, he informed Baby that he was leaving, and then he went to tell something to her father Jake Houseman.
Johnny Castle
Dr. Houseman, can I, uh-- Look, I'm going anyway, and I know what you must be thinking.

Jake Houseman
You don't know anything at all about me.

Johnny Castle
I know you want Baby to be like you -- the kind of person people look up to. Baby is like that. If you could just see --

Jake Houseman
[interrupting] Don't you tell me what to see. I see someone in front of me who got his partner in trouble and sent her off to some butcher while he moved on to an innocent, young girl like my daughter.

Johnny Castle
Yeah, I guess that's what you would see.
Because Johnny was interrupted, he never did finish telling Jake what Jake might see that would make people look up to Baby.

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Then Johnny put his stuff into his car, said goodbye with Baby and drove away from the Kellerman resort.


Then Baby went to her room and sadly began to dress for the talent show that would take place that night. The Kellerman family's plan was to attend the talent show and then depart on the next morning.

The family went to the talent show. Lisa performed in the show, but Baby only sat and watched sadly with her parents.

As the show was ending, Johnny returned to the Kellerman resort hotel and took Baby onto the stage to perform the final dance with her.

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After Johnny left the Kellerman resort, where did he go and what did he do until he returned?

Baby did not expect him to return. She must have thought he was going home, far away.

If he had traveled far away, however, he would not have returned, because now he was unemployed and could not waste gas money on unnecessary driving. Therefore, he must have driven to some location that was relatively close.

His likely destination was the Sheldrake Hotel, where he already had worked occasionally as a visiting dancer. Apparently, the Sheldrake suffered a shortage of professional dancers. Now Johnny could apply for a regular job there. If he was hired immediately, then he could settle there and not have to drive home.

Johnny was interviewed and hired, and he completed the paperwork and procedures for new employees. He was assigned to an employee bedroom, into which he moved his stuff.

When all that was done, he was able to drive back to the Kellerman hotel, which was not far away.

He drove back, because he decided to show Jake Kellerman that Baby indeed could be the kind of person that people would look up to. Johnny and Baby would perform the dance that they had prepared for the talent show.

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If Johnny had not been hired immediately at the Sheldrake hotel, then he might have driven home, far away, and not returned to the Kellerman hotel. That's why he didn't tell Baby he might return to the talent show. He already had decided that if he were not hired at the Sheldrake, then he would drive away home.

Because Johnny did get hired immediately, now he could afford to risk the summer bonus that Kellerman promised to pay him for agreeing to "leave quietly". The expression "leave quietly" meant that Johnny would not insist on performing the planned dance with Baby at the talent show.

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The plan had been that Baby would be sawed in half with the same magic trick that had been performed during the Houseman family's first night at the hotel.

Moe Pressman saws Baby Houseman in half
during her first night at Kellerman's resort hotel.
During the last night's talent show, Baby again would be sawed in half, but then would emerge whole from the box and perform her dance with Johnny. Because Johnny was fired, however, the dance was not preceded by the magic trick.

This explains a remark that Johnny made when he was saying goodbye to Baby. He remarked that now she would sawed into seven pieces.
Baby Houseman
I can't imagine being here without you even one day.

Johnny Castle
Just think, you have more time for horseshoes and croquet.

Maybe they'll saw you in seven pieces now.
Because Baby and Johnny would not perform their dance, the magician now would have to use the extra time sawing Baby into more pieces.

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The fact that Moe Pressman was the magician's assistant who cut Baby in half indicates that he too was a magician -- and did card tricks and so was a card shark.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

My Praise for ABC's "Dirty Dancing" -- Part 2

This is the second article in a series. The first article is here.

In my first article, I urged my readers to welcome new versions of the "Dirty Dancing" story. Appreciate the originality. Don't dismiss them reflexively. Exercise your sense of humor and laugh.

Now I will begin pointing out elements in the ABC original movie that I liked.

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The ABC original movie greatly enlarges the roles of two older female characters -- Marjorie Houseman and Vivian Pressman. The reason is that ABC's audience for this movie was populated disproportionately by middle-age and older women. ABC foresaw that its audience in 2017 would differ from the audience that watched the Gottlieb original movie in 1987.

Both ABC characters -- although no longer young -- still feel sexual.

* Marjorie Houseman is trying to become sexually active again in her marriage, which has been sexless for a long time.

http://www.justjared.com/photo-gallery/3883096/dirty-dancing-2017-remake-movie-stills-146/
Sex-starved old Marjorie Houseman in the
ABC original movie "Dirty Dancing"
* Vivian Pressman has been enjoying a sexual affair with Johnny Castle and also has been performing sexy songs with him in the hotel's ballroom.

http://www.justjared.com/photo-gallery/3883039/dirty-dancing-2017-remake-movie-stills-04/
Sex-busy old Vivian Pressman in the
ABC original movie "Dirty Dancing"
Marjorie and Vivian become acquainted with each other and discuss sex.

For much of ABC's audience, those two situations are interesting. Those two situations are introduced early in the story and continue to develop through most of the story. In each case, there is considerable suspense.

* How will Marjorie's situation affect Baby?

* How will Vivian's situation affect Johnny?

* Will Vivian's affair with Johnny interfere with Baby's affair with him?

* Will Majorie and Vivian affect each other's situations?

* How will the story end for Marjorie and Vivian themselves?

Such questions captivated me and held my interest through the entire ABC original movie.

As it turns out, Vivian causes Johnny to be arrested. Vivian's fateful action is foreshadowed early in the story when she tries to give Johnny an expensive watch. Vivian's motivation for her misdeed develops understandably during the story.

In contrast, Johnny is arrested in the Gottlieb original movie because of the Schumachers, who are marginal, barely noticed characters and whose motivation is unrelated to the main story of Baby and Johnny. The Schumachers are deux ex machina characters who exist only to suddenly cause Johnny to be arrested.

The subplot leading to the arrest of Johnny is much better in the ABC original movie.

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The actress who plays Penny Johnson in the ABC original movie is Nicole Scherzinger, who was 38 years old when the movie was released in 2017. The actress in the Gottlieb original move was Cynthia Rhodes, who was 30 years old when that movie was released in 1987.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/3665208/nicole-scherzinger-crush-dirty-dancing-patrick-swayze/
On the left, Penny Johnson played by Cynthia Rhodes in 1987.
On the right, Penny Johnson played by Nicole Scherzinger in 2017.
Scherzinger is a gorgeous actress, but she plays a Penny Johnson who is and looks relatively old. Below are the ages of the actresses and actors when their Dirty Dancing movies were released:

Penny Johnson
Cynthia Rhodes = 30
Nicole Scherzinger = 38

Johnny Castle
Patrick Swayze = 35
Colt Prattes = 31

Gottlieb Original Movie
Penny Johnson = 30
Johnny Castle = 35

ABC Original Movie
Penny Johnson = 38
Johnny Castle = 31

http://www.eonline.com/photos/20591/see-how-the-dirty-dancing-remake-stars-compare-to-original-movie-s-cast/753951
On the left, Johnny Castle played by Colt Prattes in 2017.
On the right, Johnny Castle played by Patrick Swayze in 1987.
With regard to their ages, Rhodes and Swayze looked like a plausible romantic couple, whereas Scherzinger and Prattes looked like an unlikely romantic couple. In both movies, however, the relationship between Johnny Castle and Penny Johnson was platonic, as far as the movie audience knew.

In both movies, Johnny Castle was sexually involved with Vivian Pressman. The age comparisons are as follows:

Vivian Pressman
Miranda Garrison = 37
Katay Sagal = 63

Johnny Castle
Patrick Swayze = 35
Colt Prattes = 31

Gottlieb Original Movie
Vivian Pressman = 37
Johnny Castle = 35

ABC Original Movie
Vivian Pressman = 63
Johnny Castle = 31

These age relationships show that the ABC original movie purposefully portrayed its older female characters -- Marjorie Houseman, Vivian Pressman and Penny Johnson -- as sexual. ABC foresaw that its movie audience would be populated disproportionately by middle-aged and older women who would be interested in watching older female characters being sexual -- and being sexually attractive.

Thus ABC has adapted its cast and story to its audience. That is a reasonable artistic decision, and I appreciate it positively.

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Penny Johnson has a relationship not only with Johnny Castle, but also with Baby Houseman, who is supposed to be about 18 years old. Here are the actresses' age differences:

Penny Johnson
Cynthia Rhodes = 30
Nicole Scherzinger = 38

Baby Houseman
Jennifer Grey = 26
Abigail Breslin = 21

Gottlieb Original Movie
Penny Johnson = 30
Baby Houseman = 26

ABC Original Movie
Penny Johnson = 38
Baby Houseman = 21

Penny Johnson helping Baby Houseman
in the 1987 "Dirty Dancing"

https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/3665208/nicole-scherzinger-crush-dirty-dancing-patrick-swayze/
Penny Johnson helping Baby Houseman
in the 2017 "Dirty Dancing"
In the ABC original movie, Penny is almost twice as old as Baby (who is supposed to be 18). The relationship between Penny and Baby seems at moments to be similar to an unmarried aunt and an admiring niece. ABC's Penny is quite affectionate, even loving, toward Baby. I enjoyed watching the ABC Penny interact with Baby, and I imagine that the audience's older women did so likewise.


Also, ABC's 38-year-old Penny finding herself pregnant is a somewhat different problem than the other, 30-year-old Penny finding herself pregnant. The older Penny is nearing the end of her fertility. That difference was not mentioned in either movie, but many of the women in the audience might appreciate that difference.

Nobody reading this should think that I am critical of Nicole Scherzinger's playing Penny in this movie. I love Scherzinger as a singer and actress, and I loved her performance in this movie. I have loved Scherzinger ever since I watched this music video -- many times.


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The ABC original movie provides an epilogue that reveals what happens to Baby and Johnny between 1963 and 1975. A huge portion of the fans of the Gottlieb original movie have desired and begged for such an epilogue.


The epilogue affects the main story. In the ABC epilogue, Johnny becomes a Broadway choreographer. During the ABC story, therefore, Baby encourages Johnny to become a Broadway dancer.

In contrast, in the Gottlieb original movie, Baby encourages Johnny merely to keep arguing that the hotel's talent show should feature a Cuban-soul dance instead of a pachanga dance.

In the ABC original movie, Baby's suggestion and encouragement affects Johnny's life profoundly and lastingly.

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The ABC original movie introduces an African-American young man, named Marco (played by J. Quinton Johnson), who is about Lisa Houseman's age and who becomes involved platonically and musically with her. He teaches her to play a ukulele and sings a duet with her at the talent show.

The new character Marco, a Negro musician,
teaching Lisa to play the ukulele in the 2017 movie "Dirty Dancing"
Marco is a thought-provoking character. He as a Negro (the word used in 1963) feels uncomfortable in socializing with Lisa, because she is Caucasian (the word used in 1963). Furthermore, the Negro band-leader Tito Suarez warns and scowls at Marco not to socialize with Lisa. Marco's modesty, politeness and deference portrays a behavior that was quite common in Negro young men in 1963.

Tito Suarez (in background) scowling at Marco
for socializing with Lisa Houseman in the 2017 "Dirty Dancing"
Lisa's interaction with Marco made her a more interesting character. Marco distracts Lisa from her anguish about her breakup with the sexually aggressive Robbie Gould. Lisa flirts subtly and safely with Marco. Their racial difference makes any romantic relationship impossible.

Now free of romantic entanglements, Lisa learns to play a musical instrument and reads the feminist book The Feminine Mystique, which Baby had been reading (not The Plight of the Peasant) on the drive to the resort hotel.

Lisa is affected by Marco's distracting her from her preoccupation with romantic desires. She is affected further by Marco's teaching her to play the ukulele and to sing a duet with him for the talent show.

Marco also provides much of the music for the ABC original movie. In various scenes, he plays the piano and sings. His musical talent is only moderate and therefore is realistic. He is a rather ordinary young man who works at the hotel and who plays the piano and sings amateurishly at parties.

Because Marco is in the movie, he and other characters sing instead of just playing music on record players. For example, in the bunkhouse scene, when Baby sees the hotel employees "dirty dancing", Marco is playing a piano and singing the songs "Do You Love Me" and "Love Man".

Marco singing at the "dirty dancing" party
in the employees' bunkhouse.
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The character change that I myself liked the most was Neil Kellerman. In the 1987 movie, Neil is a rather villainous character and is disliked by Baby. In the 2017 movie, though, Neil is entirely positive and is liked by Baby.

On the left, Neil Kellerman in the 2017 movie.
On the right, Neil Kellerman in the 1987 movie.
I am not criticizing the actor, Lonnie Price, who played the character well and memorably in the 1987 movie. Rather, I am criticizing the character, who is villainous and disliked.

The audience for the 1987 movie includes nice young men (I myself am one instance) who do not like seeing a nice young male character like Neil being disdained by Baby while he is trying politely to express some romantic interest in her. When I watched the movie in 1987, I felt sorry for Neil through most of the movie (until Neil became bossy toward Johnny about the dance to be performed at the talent show).

In the 2017 movie, Baby does not reciprocate Neil's romantic interest, but she does like, appreciate and respect him throughout. Neil is so nice that Baby's parents and sister think Baby is having a summer-vacation romance with him.

Neil Kellerman and the Housemans
watching Johnny and Penny dancing in the ballroom.
The 2017 movie demonstrated that the story did not need for Neil to be a villain. If Baby and Neil are a plausible romantic couple, then there is more emotional conflict in Baby's selection of Johnny over Neil.

I strongly prefer a likable Neil Kellerman character in the  "Dirty Dancing" story.

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This series of articles praising the ABC original movie will continue.

My Praise for ABC's "Dirty Dancing" -- Part 1

On May 24, 2017, ABC broadcast the ABC original movie event (notice that expression on the poster) titled Dirty Dancing.


ABC does not call the movie a remake, which is the word used by most people who discuss the movie. Here in this blog article, I will use the expression ABC original movie (not remake).

If you have not seen the ABC original movie, then watching this video, made by Clevver News, summarizes it well.


Having watched the ABC original movie three times, I like it. I encourage people to watch the ABC original movie with an open mind. I encourage people who already have watched it -- even if they hated it -- to watch it again.

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The ABC original movie has received little praise. The website Rotten Tomatoes reports favorable reviews from only 20% of the professional reviewers and from 12% of ordinary reviewers. I will provide excerpts from four negative reviews.

Then I will provide my own, positive review.

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 Here are excerpts from a negative review, written by television critic Neil Genzlinger for The New York Times:
The Dirty Dancing phenomenon was never really about the story — or the music — or even the dancing. It was about the way those things came together at a particular moment in time for a particular audience in a gritty movie featuring two engaging stars.

That kind of lightning in a bottle can’t be recreated, a point ABC takes a wearying three hours to make on Wednesday night with its new, chemistry-free version of that beloved film. Most of the signature scenes are reproduced — watermelons are carried, a dance lift in a lake is attempted — but the emotional investment that made the 1987 movie an unexpected worldwide phenomenon is nowhere to be felt. ...

The music is also handled differently. Rather than having a soundtrack, the remake often has actors singing the numbers as they would on Broadway. But the device generally feels forced and isn’t used often enough to give this treatment the feel of a full-fledged musical. It’s more like “a movie in which actors occasionally burst into song for no reason.” A real musical deploys its songs organically; here they tend to interrupt rather than enhance.

The hope for this “Dirty Dancing” is presumably that it will both charm the original fans and appeal to viewers who today are the age that those fans were in 1987. But no young person in 2017 wants to hear another word about the 1960s. And the moviegoers who loved Dirty Dancing in the Reagan administration will recognize this new version for the sterile imitation that it is. ...
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Here are excepts from a second negative review, written by movie critic Mae Abdulbaki for The Young Folks:
Remaking one of the most popular and beloved movies in the history of cinema feels almost disrespectful on many levels. Going into the TV movie remake of Dirty Dancing with a clear and open mind, I figured that if at least the dancing was good, then there was something to enjoy. However, the updated version doesn’t even meet the lowest of expectations and blows past mediocre to land at downright terrible. The film is slow and dull, the lead actors have absolutely no chemistry, and the musical aspect doesn’t add anything to the film beyond being time-consuming.

The Dirty Dancing remake follows the same general storyline of the original film. It’s still set in the 1960s, Baby Houseman (Abigail Breslin) still ends up falling for Johnny Castle (Colt Prattes), and she still fights the expectations set by her father (Bruce Greenwood). However, it modifies some of the narrative and, to put it simply, makes it much more palatable and suitable for a younger audience. This Disney-washing, if you will, takes away some of the more serious and important aspects of the original film and makes it feel like more of a saccharine version of it. The remake also expands on several characters’ backstory, like that of Baby’s mother (Debra Messing) and father. This version of the film gives them marital problems and allows Baby’s sister, Lisa (Sarah Hyland), to develop outside of the story of simply falling for a jerk.

It’s important for any remake to set itself apart from the original film it’s based on, but Dirty Dancing only allows for so many changes and mostly follows the original narrative verbatim. The additional aspects–the singing, the expansion of some character dynamics, its attempts at being really cute – don’t add anything to the film at all. The TV movie is long, clocking in at two hours and ten minutes, and there are several instances where it becomes boring to watch. ....
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Here are excerpts from a third negative review, written by television critic Sonia Saraiya for Variety:
Dirty Dancing on ABC is a sappy, passionless, schlocky remake of the original, without even the iota of imagination necessary to expand upon the 1987 film. Nearly every element of the film that caught worldwide audiences’ imaginations has been sanded down into an advertisement-ready imagining of the swinging ‘60s.

What stands out most, surprisingly, is the smallest of details — the cast doesn’t sweat, even while they are dancing in the hot summer, or while they are making love in the middle of the humid night. There’s nothing dirty about this. And there’s barely even dancing: The production attached “Hamilton” choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, but it’s unclear what they did with his talents, because dance sequences do not take up much of the film’s run-time, and what is seen is sadly below par. The average ABC viewer can see better on an off-week of Dancing With the Stars.

This is not to specifically ding lead Abigail Breslin, who is quite winning during the scenes where Baby is called upon to express emotions. But Dirty Dancing is a dance movie, and Breslin, while competent, is not a dazzling performer. Opposite her, Colt Prattes, who plays Johnny, is a better dancer but a far worse actor.

The two have all the chemistry of mannequins, which makes their already improbable love story completely incomprehensible. And then to make matters worse, they start singing — a bizarre departure from the mise-en-scene in a story that puts realism at the forefront. In the original film, when Swayze and Grey lipsync to “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” or “Love Is Strange,” there’s an impromptu enthusiasm to the scenes — just two kids singing along to their favorite songs. In the remake, those rareified moments of intimacy become another opportunity to showboat for the camera. ...
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Here are excerpts from a fourth negative review, written by film-maker Scout Tafoya for Roger Ebert.
.... Every room is a little too big and every actor is a little too far away from the camera, as in a multi-camera sitcom. [Director Wayne] Blair has no eye for the dancing, which is his most lethal failing. He has no sense of how to film bodies, the space needed to ensure we see the impressive physicality of each performer, no sense of how to communicate the sensual thrill of two people touching. Blair may well be trying to shoot around the lackluster choreography, which also fails the performers at every turn. The dancers may as well be rogue parade floats accidentally smacking into each other. The music direction is similarly ghastly. Slick, soulless covers of 60s and 80s pop and ballads stumble around like reanimated corpses on the soundtrack.

That's all bad enough, but the final 15 minutes detonate a nuclear bomb of misbegotten ambition in the viewer's brain. It dares you to reconsider your opinion of every poorly staged number and overacted monologue. Prattes' constipated Johnny Castle storms the dance hall for his closing performance, walks over to the table where Baby and her family sit, and delivers the now iconic line that lodged "Dirty Dancing" into popular cinematic imagination. His somnambulant read of "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" spurts from his lips like a mouthful of water he'd forgotten to swallow. A film which had been held together with hope and a prayer until this point, finally falls apart. ....
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Now I will provide my own, positive opinion of the ABC original movie. My basic arguments:

* Some stories become so implanted in our culture that they flourish with a multitude of variations and embellishments. Our culture is full of people who love the story and want to retell it. Younger generations of producers, directors, actors, musicians and designers will want to apply their own artistic talents to present the story to younger generations of audiences. We should welcome, appreciate and celebrate these creative efforts -- not denounce, mock and stifle them.

* You can enjoy a lot of fun, surprises and laughs by watching new presentations. For example, in the ABC original movie, the the actor who plays Johnny is much smaller than Patrick Swayze and the actress who plays Baby is much heavier than Jennifer Grey, and so the audience feels amused in anticipating and watching the lift movement in the final dance. It's funny!

* New presentations will fill in gaps in the original story, clarify fuzzy elements, add new characters and subplots, enlarge minor characters, challenge established assumptions and interpretations -- and thus enrich the original story.

* New presentations might attract other social groups to become fans of the story. For example, the ABC original movie adds an African-American character and enlarges the roles of the older characters.

* Some elements of new presentations might be improvements. For example, ABC's Neil Kellerman is a different, more realistic and thought-provoking character.

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In order to open your mind about the ABC movie, I suggest that you replace the  expression remake in your thinking with the word original movie. To help you do so, I will use the following expressions in this article:

* The ABC original movie.

* The Gottlieb original movie. (This is the 1987 movie that was produced by Linda Gottlieb and that starred Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze.)

* The San Pietro original movie. (This is a 2014 movie made by an Italian amateur theater club at the Communale San Pietro.)


* The Uskup original movie. (This is a 2012 movie made by a Umskup drama club in the Czech Republic.)


These four movies differ so much that each deserves to be called "original". Each can be enjoyed in its own circumstances and on its level.

If you were a tourist who happened to come across those live performances in Italy or the Czech Republic, you would have enjoyed watching them. You would have smiled and laughed the entire time. You would not have judged them harshly. They were just young foreigners having fun and putting their own spin on the story -- changing it into an Italian story or a Czech story, with their own cultural references and jokes.

Likewise, the new generations of Americans who made the ABC original movie have adapted the story to their own attitudes and sensibilities. By casting a grungy actor and a chubby actress into the lead roles, they have provocatively outraged the older generations that devoutly venerate the now ancient movie, which has become a sacred cow.

A grungy Johnny and a chubby Baby
in a "Dirty Dancing" for new generations. 
Many girls and young women now identify primarily with the Baby Houseman played by Abigail Breslin, an actress they have watched for many years.

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The website IMDb lists 48 Tarzan movies, from 1918 through 2005. Each one can be appreciated on its own merits, as an original movie. We don't consider the last 47 of these Tarzan movies to be "remakes" of the first Tarzan movie that was made in 1918.


The Tarzan movies continue to be made for various reasons. They are exotic, exciting and funny. They feature an extraordinarily handsome male character. They can raise various cultural, political and environmental issues. The basic story is so well known that the audience keeps it in mind while watching new, alternate, spun-off stories.

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In an earlier article in my blog, I wrote about the two Footloose movies -- released in 1984 and 2011. Each is a good movie, and each can be appreciated independently.

Of course, the Tarzan movies and the Footloose movies are based on written works that existed before the movies, whereas the Dirty Dancing movies are not based no a prior written work. However, very few people have read the Tarzan novel or the Footloose article. In the mind of the public that has not read the Tarzan novel, all the Tarzan movies are based on abstract story that has become a part of our culture.

Likewise, the Dirty Dancing story is so well known that the story -- as an abstraction -- has become a part of our culture.

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Consider the story of The Wizard of Oz. Because of the 1939 movie, the story has become so well known that other works can be based quite loosely on the abstract story -- for example, Broadway musical The Wiz and the television series The Tin Man.

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The Dirty Dancing story has been made into a stage musical (which I have not studied or seen). Somehow, moving the story from a movie onto a theater stage is "really fun". As an example of that open-minded attitude, here is an excerpt from a theater review written by Jane Horwitz for the Washington Post.
.... So, is this highly commercial, “live” re-creation of a beloved film an example of great and artful theatrical innovation? Nope, it is not. But is it really fun? Yup. ....

The characters talk a bit more about civil rights, Vietnam, and class conflict onstage. Musically, choruses of “We Shall Overcome” and “This Land Is Your Land” emphasize, somewhat awkwardly, growing political and social unrest. ....

You know the story: The Houseman family arrives for three weeks of fun in the Catskills at Kellerman’s resort. .... Baby jumps at the chance to learn Penny’s part for a steamy number with Johnny.

All these crises whiz by amid the strains of, among others, “The Time of My Life,” “Do You Love Me?,” “Cry to Me,” and the comical “Lisa’s Hula” for the hotel talent show. Audiences hear some master recordings from the film’s soundtrack, and other numbers performed live. A couple of terrific singers shine: Doug Carpenter, who plays Johnny’s cousin Billy Kostecki, belts a gorgeous “In the Still of the Night,” and Jennlee Shallow movingly solos on “You Don’t Own Me” and “We Shall Overcome.” ....

A few weaker links in the acting department dampen the fizz at times, but most such moments go by too fast to cause damage. ....
If it's "really fun" for a theater company to change the story so that the characters sing some of the songs and so that new songs are added, then it might be "really fun" if ABC exercises similar creativity.

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In ancient Greece there were annual festivals that featured drama competitions. A mythical story -- for example the Oedipus Rex story -- would be chosen for the year's competition. The entire population already knew the mythical story from famous legends and poems. Various drama clubs were sponsored by wealthy patrons, and each club prepared a play and then performed it at the festival. A prize was presented for the year's best play.

Although each play was about the same mythical story, each play presented unique scripts, songs, characters and plot details. Watching the variety of plays was an enriching experience. The mythical story was elaborated. Some minor characters became major characters. Background details and subplots were added. New poetry and songs became popular. Citizens who attended such a festival and watched a dozen different plays about, for example, Oedipus Rex enriched their understanding of that mythical story.

Even if an Oedipus Rex play already had been performed many years previously, the various new plays performed at this year's festival were not considered to be "re-makes". Rather, each new play was appreciated as an original play.

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The ABC original movie enriches the abstract "Dirty Dancing" story that has become a part of our culture.

Even if you watched the ABC original movie and hated it, the new idea has been planted into your mind that Jake as a young man used to work as a waiter at the Kellerman resort hotel and that he met Marjorie there. You never will get that idea out of your subconscious mind.

Similarly, people who watched the stage play know now that the song "We Shall Overcome" was sung at the Kellerman resort hotel during the Kellermans' vacation.

As the abstract story is told variously in separate dramas, new details are added -- for example, young Jake the waiter and the song "We Shall Overcome". This elaboration is similar to the drama-festival elaboration of the Oedipus Rex story in Greece's culture.

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This essay is the first in a series of four articles.

The series second article is here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Fred Astair does dirty dancing



Keith and Paddy recreate "Dirty Dancing"

England has a television show called the Keith and Paddy Picture show that recreates famous movies. The following videos show scenes from the recreation of Dirty Dancing.




Sunday, July 16, 2017

The 30th Anniversary "Dirty Dancing" Makeup Palette

It's not too early to order a Christmas present for a woman you love.





The price is only $60, and you can order one on-line from Poshmark on this webpage.



Dancing to "Time of My Life" in a Wheelchair

Cheryl Angelelli and Tamerlan Gadirov performing their dance routine at the Michigan dance challenge 2017


The Fox2 television has broadcast a television interview of this couple, which you can see at this webpage (I don't know how to embed the video into my blog). The webpage reports:
Metro Detroiters Cheryl Angelelli and Tamerlan Gadirov recently captured the silver medal in the free-style category at the Mainhatten Cup competition in Frankfurt, Germany, and are currently ranked third in the world.

The pair have been working together for roughly a year at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Bloomfield Hills, which has one of the only wheelchair ballroom dance programs in the country, and the only one in Michigan.

How far did Baby and Johnny go sexually?

Baby Houseman visited Johnny Castle's cabin to talk with him about her father's anger about the abortion. When that conversation was concluded, she asked to dance with him. Their dancing became increasingly sexual. He took off her blouse. At the end of the scene, he is lying on top of her in bed and is kissing her.


They certainly did not have sexual intercourse. The reasons include the following:

* The scene begins with their discussion about her father's anger at Johnny.

* In that discussion, they both express respect for her father's opinions.

* They both had dealt recently with Penny's unplanned pregnancy and dangerous abortion.

* He was not expecting sexual intercourse and probably did not have any condoms.

* She certainly was a virgin.

* Because she thought he was promiscuous, she had good reason to fear venereal diseases.

* They both knew that she would depart from him in a few days.

=====

Throughout the scene, the movie audience never sees him not wearing his pants.

Throughout the scene, the movie audience never sees her not wearing her pants or her bra.

At the end of the scene, as he is lying on top of her, the movie audience cannot see what they are wearing or not wearing.

=====

Part of the scene was deleted so that the movie would be rated PG-13. I have preserved three screenshots from a currently available YouTube video.




Below is a video of the deleted scene that is currently on YouTube:


The images and video show him continuing to wear his pants, but her pants have been removed. She obviously is wearing a slip and certainly is wearing her panties. (Her slip is puzzling, because she had been wearing tight pants.)

In both the deleted scene and in the redacted scene we see Baby and Johnny dry-humping -- and nothing more than dry-humping. The expression "dry-humping," means that their pubic areas remain clothed but are ground together to develop sexual arousal.

In both the deleted scene and in the redacted scene, Baby continues to wear her bra.

======

Do not imagine that they removed any  more clothes. In the scene's final moments, where he lying on top of her in bed and kissing her, he still is wearing his pants and she still is wearing her panties, slip and bra.

Do not imagine that they did anything more than dry-hump. He probably had an orgasm, and it happened inside his pants. She certainly did not have an orgasm, because her inexperience and anxiety inhibited her. It's likely that she never had seriously masturbated or had experienced an orgasm in her life.

The following chart from the book Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, published in 1953, indicates that less than 40% of Jewish women under the age of 20 ever had masturbated to orgasm.

In 1953, fewer than 40% of Jewish women
under the age of 20 had masturbated to orgasm.
Nevertheless, Baby felt great pleasure from the experience. She was sexually aroused by the semi-nudity and by the embracing and grinding. She enjoyed seeing his pleasure from his orgasm. She was not disappointed at all. She was happy, satisfied, thrilled.

The following table from the same book Sexual Behavior compares female and male enjoyment of petting in 1953.

Female responses to petting in the middle column.
Male responses in the right column.
(Click to enlarge)
I summarize the table in my own words as follows:
* Petting provided erotic satisfaction 1) sometimes to 83% of females and 2) usually to 91% of males.

* Petting caused orgasm 1) sometimes in 39% of females and 2) sometimes in 31% of males. However, if the males did not orgasm during the petting, then "many" [i.e. practically all] of them masturbated to orgasm afterwards. By contrast, if the females did not orgasm during petting, then only 35% of them masturbated to orgasm afterwards.

* Petting without orgasm caused "nervous disturbance" to 51% of females and to "many" [i.e. practically all] males. If the males did not orgasm during petting, then they could not relax until they masturbated to orgasm afterwards. In contrast, if the females did not orgasm during orgasm, then about half of them naturally relaxed rather soon.

* Petting was the source of first erotic arousal for 34% of females, but rarely for males (whose first source is masturbation). Petting caused the first orgasm in 24% of females, but in practically no males (who long before any petting had masturbated to their first orgasms.) 
The only disappointment that Baby might have felt after her no-orgasm-for-her dry-humping with Johnny was that he did not declare that he loved her.

In 1963, dry-humping was the common experience for young couples -- especially for girls of Baby's age and social class -- beginning their sexual relationships.

=====

Later, Baby and Johnny had a second sexual encounter. This time the movie audience can see that she is not wearing her bra. When he stands up, the audience glimpses that he was completely naked in bed.


They still did not have sexual intercourse. They both are terrified that she might get pregnant. One reason why she asks him how many women he has slept with is that she is terrified of catching a venereal disease from him.

She has allowed him to get to "second base" -- meaning that he could see, fondle and kiss her bare breasts.

She has not allowed him to get to "third base" -- he still was not allowed to see or touch her naked pubic area. She kept her panties on.

She masturbated him manually to orgasm several times. That was interesting and fun for her, and she loved doing it. Even though she kept her panties on, she was terrified that his sperm might make her pregnant or that his genital germs might spread to her. She did not touch his genitals with her mouth.

She felt sexually aroused, but she was afraid to become so aroused that she might lose control of the situation and go too far. Therefore she was determined to keep her panties on and to prevent him from touching her naked pubic area and from fondling her to more intense sexual arousal.

They both were happy to stay within these sexual limits. He was satisfied with her hand jobs and did not pressure her toward oral sex. She was satisfied by her non-orgasmic sexual pleasure and by the fun of giving him as many orgasms as she could with her hands. She still was happy, satisfied and thrilled. She figured also that if she sexually exhausted him, then he would not stray to other women for awhile.

She felt safe from disease and pregnancy. He did not have to worry that she might get pregnant.

======

Another reason why Baby kept her panties on was that she did not want to show her pubic hair. In 1963, young women felt ashamed about showing their pubic hair even to their boyfriends.

In late August 1963 -- when Baby was letting Johnny see her bare breasts but was keeping her panties on -- the September 1963 issue of Playboy magazine was on sale and featuring this centerfold photograph:


The playmate did not show her pubic hair, because no playmate did. The first time a playmate showed even a glimpse of pubic was in July 1968. Playboy changed its policy reluctantly, only because of the Pubic Wars.

Playboy magazine strove to depict "the girl next door" being naked. Baby Houseman was a "girl next door" in the culture of 1963, and so she wanted to hide her pubic hair from Johnny. She appreciated the beauty of her breasts, but not of her pubic hair.

Here is another one of the photographs of that centerfold playmate keeping her skirt on.


You can see all the photographs of her on the Playmates webpage.

=====

Here is an amusing dry-humping scene in the movie Bad Teacher, starring Cameron Diaz and Justine Timberlake.

The "Masculinity Crisis" and Johnny Castle

In a recent article, I provided excerpts from a scholarly article written by Gary Needham and titled "Heteros and Hustlers: Straightness and Dirtiness in Dirty Dancing". There, Needham mentioned a so-called
The hustler was a central figure that served as a major trope for a crisis in "American manhood". ... Johnny is often taciturn, nonchalant, and introspective, with his feelings for Baby originally ambivalent .... Baby's eventual conquest of "the Castle" of Johnny's feelings is also an attempt to resolve his disaffected manhood. ... She saved him from what the widespread crisis in postwar masculinity typified by disaffected male stars like James Dean and Montgomery Clift. ...
Needham suggests that Johnny's original ambivalence about Baby perhaps raised questions about his masculinity.

In this article I will go beyond Needham's article to offer my own thoughts.

=====

Johnny works as a professional dancer. This is a professional where the males are -- and are perceived to be -- disproportionately homosexual. The actor Patrick Swayze himself has said so several times in his autobiography The Time of My Life. (I will not bother to cite quotations right now.)

Dance Magazine has published an article, written by Joseph Carman and titled Gay Men and Dance, which includes the following passages:
The stereotype of male dancers automatically being gay — not to mention the myth that dancing makes you queer — is a concept that Americans, in particular, love to embrace, as if to protect their own macho image. And yet, gay men do seem to be drawn to dance (and to other creative and equally stereotyped occupations like interior design, hairdressing, couture, and musical theater) for various reasons. ....

A 1997 study published by J. Michael Bailey and Michael Oberschneider in Archives of Sexual Behavior, titled “Sexual Orientation and Professional Dance,” detailed a survey of 136 professional dancers, including homosexual and heterosexual men and women, about the prevalence of gay men in their profession. Their anecdotal responses indicated that they thought that 57.8 percent of the men in dance companies were gay, while they considered 53 percent of the men in their own companies to be gay. Even if those numbers are off by 10 points, those are still high ratios.

Gay men enter the dance field at ages ranging from 5 years old to their college years, but there are often common denominators in their motivations. Choreographer James Cunningham, who co-curates “From the Horse’s Mouth” (a performed compilation of notable dancers’ stories), worked with a dance and theater troupe from the age of 7. “I was not interested in cars, sports, or dating girls. I was interested in theater, dance, and music, where I could explore my emotional, sensual, sensitive side,” says Cunningham. “I played everything — men, women, animals, spirits. What I was learning was that when you’re a free spirit you can be everything.” Cunningham talks about the yin-yang balance that gay men possess (in sexual terms, that equates to both active and passive libido). “When they call gay people ‘fruits’ or ‘pansies,’ that means they have a soft side. Well, I embrace that,” he says. “To be a dancer, you have to give in to the rhythm.” ....

Overwhelmingly, among the gay men interviewed for this article, the welcoming atmosphere of dance classes or companies made them want to stay once they got their foot in the door. Gay men are usually invited into the dance world without question, easily gain friends and peers, and are seldom judged for their sexual preference, as they might be elsewhere. ...
I will not belabor the point here. Suffice it to say that some people watching the movie Dirty Dancing for the first time perhaps wondered initially whether Johnny Castle might be homosexual. Soon Baby (and the movie audience) learns from Johnny's cousin Billy Kostecki that the relationship between Johnny and Penny Johnson is still only platonic, after knowing each other for many years:
Billy Kostecki
That's my cousin, Johnny Castle. He got me the job here.

Baby Houseman
They look great together.

Billy Kostecki
Yeah. You'd think they were a couple, wouldn't you?

Baby Houseman
Aren't they?

Billy Kostecki
No, not since we were kids.
When Johnny notices that Baby, a hotel guest, is at the bunkhouse "dirty dancing" party, he tells her to leave but then dances with her playfully. I think this is the moment of Johnny's apparent ambivalence that Needham mentioned.

For those audience members who wondered whether Johnny might be homosexual, their uncertainty continues until he pulls Baby's blouse off in his cabin and then engages her in some sexual activity.

======

Johnny seems to lack self-confidence in regard to men of authority. He does not defend himself to Jake Houseman, Max Kellerman or Neil Kellerman. He expresses social aggression and physically fights only against Robbie Gould, who works as a mere waiter.

Johnny seems to spend disproportionate time with older women. He teaches dance to older women, which is his job, but he also engages in sexual activities with older women -- the so-called "bungalow bunnies".

Johnny's involvement with the younger Baby is a consequence not of his intentions but rather of accidental circumstances.

Baby lectures Johnny to develop and express self-confidence. At the movie's end, when Johnny steps up onto the talent show's stage, he publicly declares that Baby has demonstrated and taught him about self-confidence.

======

The so-called "Masculinity Crisis" in the late 1950s was related to several factors. The USA was not engaged in an active war. US society was becoming more aware of homosexual men. The age of marriage for men was gradually being postponed. Compared to previous generations, young men in the late 1950s and early 1960s were considered to be immature and to lack self-confidence, especially in regard to women.

The "crisis" is discussed in an essay written by Keith Moore and titled American Cold War Politics: Homosexuality and the Crisis of Masculinity, which includes the following passage:
According to scholars, masculinity became a key component of both foreign and domestic policy beginning in the 1950s because of the sociologists and historians that “began to define notions of sexual character and to isolate masculinity as a subject for contemporary study.”

Thus, scholars examined thoroughly why masculinity became such a focus for politicians and politics alike during the early Cold War. Scholars ...  have concluded masculinity became imperative because of the upset in hetero-normative gender roles for men. Smith says, “The apparent nexus between the communist menace, disease, and illicit sexuality was strengthened by the concerted drive after the Second World War to re-establish conventional definitions of masculinity and femininity especially the dominance of heterosexuality and what was to become known as the‘nuclear family.’” The gender ideals present in society were the foundational support of the war against communism. ...

Following WWII, many women refused to leave the workforce and their newly found freedom to return to their previous roles of domesticity. Combined with a new era of mass consumption, which inherently implied feminization ... , scholars contend it was the fear of destabilizing the country through newly created gender ideals. As Gilbert states, mass culture had created passive consumers and stereotyped women as easily manipulated thusly “the effects of conformity, suburban life, and mass culture were depicted as feminizing and debasing, and the proposed solution often lay in the renewal of traditional masculine vigor and individualism.”
=====

The Artifice website has published an article written by a female essayist (she identifies herself as bzukovich657) and titled Masculinity, Gender Roles, and T.V. Shows from the 1950s. The article includes the following passages:
During the 1950’s, it was of the utmost importance to socialize boys strictly as boys. Through these television shows, boys were shown how “real men” were supposed to act. These shows display clear differences between men and women, with women as subordinate. For boys in the 1950s, “being a man” and never doing anything that anyone could consider feminine was a lesson taught to them by their fathers and by the popular culture of the time. ...

Boys during the 1950s were surrounded by this rigidity of manhood. This hyper-masculine mold that they were supposed to fit into consequently meant devaluing the role of women. It is possible that such television expectations contributed to the development of violent tendencies, because these boys growing up watching the men of the 1950s were not raised to value women, but rather to devalue them to make themselves seem more masculine. The repetitive exposure to these television shows, alongside with the patriarchal society that was solidified even more during the post-WWII years, created a highly constructed identity for men in America.

The television shows of the 1950s may have encouraged such violent outcomes. There was a lot of pressure on the boys to grow up as men, being ridiculed for any behavior that was not masculine and knowing that they would one day be the primary breadwinner for their family. There was also a clear gender difference growing up as boys in the 1950s, and since they were raised in a way to devalue “women’s work” they did not see girls and women as important parts of society. The television shows of the 1950s may not have shown violence to boys but it shows that subordination of women and hyper-masculinity are normal, which is the exact mindset that can lead to violent tendencies.
Johnny Castle was teaching dance, and it seemed that he never would earn enough money in that job to become a family's breadwinner. Although he was not effeminate, he was falling far short of our society's masculine ideal.

=====

A book written by Brian Baker and titled Masculinity in Fiction and Film, points out the 1960 movie Psycho. The movie's villain is a young man, Normal Bates, who cannot detach himself from his mother even though she died many years ago. Bates dresses in his mother's clothes and murders women for tempting him into adult heterosexual relationships.

Normal Bates exemplifying the Masculinity Crisis
in the 1960 movie "Psycho"
======

The public concern about masculinity continued through the Presidency of John Kennedy in the 1960s. The words that Kennedy used was "vigor" and "vitality" -- the opposite of which was "softness". Some examples follow:

-----
This knowledge, the knowledge that the physical well-being of the citizen is an important foundation for the vigor and vitality of all the activities of the nation, is as old as Western civilization itself.
-----
But the harsh fact of the matter is that there is also an increasingly large number of young Americans who are neglecting their bodies — whose physical fitness is not what it should be — who are getting soft. And such softness on the part of individual citizens can help to strip and destroy the vitality of a nation. For the physical vigor of our citizens is one of America's most precious resources. If we waste and neglect this resource, if we allow it to dwindle and grow soft then we will destroy much of our ability to meet the great and vital challenges which confront our people.
-----
But physical fitness is as vital to the activities of peace as to those of war, especially when our success in those activities may well determine the future of freedom in the years to come. We face in the Soviet Union a powerful and implacable adversary determined to show the world that only the Communist system possesses the vigor and determination necessary to satisfy awakening aspirations for progress and the elimination of poverty and want. .... Only if our citizens are physically fit will they be fully capable of such an effort.
-----
It is ironic that at a time when the magnitude of our dangers makes the physical fitness of our citizens a matter of increasing importance, it takes greater effort and determination than ever before to build the strength of our bodies. The age of leisure and abundance can destroy vigor and muscle tone as effortlessly as it can gain time.
======

Fortunately in relation to Masculinity Crisis, the movie Dirty Dancing ends with Johnny Castle demonstrating his masculine strength and vigor by lifting his female partner -- who is wearing a pink chiffon dress and ultra-feminine, pink, high-heel shoes -- high into the air.

Strong, vigorous Johnny Castle lifting
soft, feminine and pink Baby Houseman
Perhaps this strong and vigorous moment marked the end of the Masculinity Crisis, in 1963.

=======

In 1995, however, a new Masculinity Crisis developed.

Patrick Swayze in the 1995 movie
"To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar"

The Song "Cry to Me", Sung by Solomon Burke

The song "Cry to Me" is sung late in the scene where Baby Houseman comes to Johnny Castle's cabin. When she arrives, Johnny is alone and playing Otis Redding's song These Arms of Mine on his record player. In this song's lyrics, a man is alone and thinking about embracing a woman, named Baby, whom he desires:
These arms of mine,
They are lonely,
Lonely and feeling blue.

These arms of mine,
They are yearning,
Yearning from wanting you.

And if you would let them hold you,
Oh, how grateful I will be.

These arms of mine,
They are burning,
Burning from wanting you.

These arms of mine,
They are wanting,
Wanting to hold you.

Come on, come on, Baby,
Just be my little woman.
Just be my lover.
The song continues to be heard in the background as Baby tries to explain to Johnny that he should not worry about her father's anger about the abortion.

-----

The conversation about her father's anger is concluded, and then Baby asks Johnny to dance. At that moment, the next record falls and begins to play the song "Cry to Me" by Solomon Burke. Baby and Johnny dance to the song with growing sexuality.


In this second song too, a man is alone and thinking about a woman, named Baby, whom he desires. He imagines that the woman likewise is lonely -- so lonely that she is even crying. He imagines that they will get together and simply go for a walk.
When your baby leaves you all alone
And nobody calls you on the phone,
Don't you feel like crying?

Well, here I am, my honey.
Come on, Baby, cry to me.

When you're all alone in your lonely room
And there's nothing but the smell of her perfume
Don't you feel like crying?

Nothing could be sadder than a glass of wine alone.
Loneliness loneliness, it's just a waste of your time.

But you don't ever you don't ever have to walk alone.
Come take my hand, Baby, won't you walk with me?
Actually, the lyrics are not clear about whether the man or the woman is the lonely person. Maybe the singing man is not lonely but he understands that the woman is lonely, and so his is inviting her to come to him.

======

I don't think the song works well when sung by a woman, because men are not supposed to cry. However, I think that a man-woman duet works, because then they both are crying.




======

Although Johnny happened to be alone in his cabin, he was not generally lonely. Johnny had been at the resort all summer and had many friends -- Billy Kostecki, Penny Johnson, his other fellow dancers and hotel employees and his various "bungalow bunnies". Johnny was teaching dance to the guests and was planning dances for the talent show. Johnny knew also people at other nearby hotels, such as the Sheldrake.

The lonely person in this scene is Baby. She is basically a loner, a bookworm. She has been at the resort for only a couple of weeks. She does not want to spend time with her parents or sister. She apparently does not socialize with other guests.

The resort employees are not supposed to socialize with her. Neil Kellerman is able and willing to socialize  with her, but she avoids him.

Because Johnny is not lonely, he does not go visit Baby. Rather, because Baby is lonely, she goes to visit Johnny without being invited. It's not clear that he missed her or wanted her to visit, especially after he had been insulted by her father.

======

The song "Cry to Me" was written by Bert Berns, whose life through 1963 is described by Wikipedia as follows:
Bertrand Russell "Bert" Berns (November 8, 1929 – December 30, 1967), also known as Bert Russell and (occasionally) Russell Byrd, was an American songwriter and record producer of the 1960s. ...

Born in the Bronx, New York City, to Russian Jewish immigrants, Berns contracted rheumatic fever as a child, an illness that damaged his heart and would mark the rest of his life, resulting in his early death. Turning to music, he found consonance in the sounds of his African-American and Latino neighbors. As a young man, Berns danced in mambo nightclubs, and made his way to Havana before the Cuban Revolution.

Shortly after his return from Cuba, ... he signed as a $50/week songwriter with Robert Mellin Music at 1650 Broadway in 1960. His first hit record was "A Little Bit of Soap", performed by the Jarmels on Laurie Records in 1961.

Berns himself had a short-lived career as a recording artist, and in 1961, under the name "Russell Byrd", Berns scored his only Billboard Hot 100 appearance with his own composition, "You'd Better Come Home", which peaked at Number 50. That song would later be recorded by the Isley Brothers, and featured as the B-side of their 1962 single "Twistin' With Linda". Also in 1962, the Isley Brothers recorded "Twist and Shout" on Wand Records, written by Berns and Phil Medley.

Berns also hit the charts in late 1962 with the Exciters' "Tell Him" on United Artists, and with Solomon Burke's "Cry to Me" on Atlantic Records. ...

Berns's early work with Solomon Burke brought him to the attention of Atlantic label chiefs Ahmet Erteg√ľn and Jerry Wexler. In 1963, Berns ... [became] the staff producer at Atlantic [record company], where he wrote and produced hits for Solomon Burke ("Everybody Needs Somebody to Love"), the Drifters ("Under the Boardwalk" and "Saturday Night at the Movies"), Barbara Lewis ("Baby I'm Yours" and "Make Me Your Baby"), Little Esther Phillips ("Hello Walls"), Ben E. King, Wilson Pickett and LaVern Baker.
http://www.bertberns.com/jukebox/solomon_burke.html
Solomon Burke and Bert Berns in the early 1960s
Music journalist Joel Selvin has characterized Berns' musical talent as follows:
Berns was the funky one, the street cat, the producer who spoke the musicians' language. He was not a schooled musician ..., but he could read and write music. As a youth, he studied classical piano and would occasionally return to those pieces, but only for his own private entertainment. He was no virtuoso, but he could get his point across.

As a guitarist, he could wring a galloping, signature sound out of his nylon-stringed model that stitches its way through a number of his productions ...

During his first year in the record business, Berns fumbled around for his voice, but once he found his spiritual link to the mambo and rhythm and blues, he instinctively grew into an auteur, an artist who used personal themes to fashion universal messages. ...

His records with Solomon Burke established the singer as one of the most formidable figures of the rhythm and blues world, shoulder-to-shoulder with peers such as Sam Cooke, James Brown, Jackie Wilson and Ray Charles. He brought the heart of mambo into rock and roll - not the supple Brazilian samba rhythms found in records by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller or Burt Bacharach, but fiery Afro-Cuban incantations that pulsed with sex and sin. Almost alone among his contemporaries on the New York scene, Berns traveled to England as his song "Twist and Shout" rose as an anthem to a new generation of British musicians, where he made key records in the country's pop transformation. As he devoted more time to running his own record label, Bang Records, Berns started the careers of future giants Van Morrison and Neil Diamond.
The Wikipedia article about the song Cry to Me includes the following passages:
On December 6, 1961, [Solomon] Burke recorded one of his best known songs, "Cry to Me", an ode to loneliness and desire, one of the first songs to unify country, gospel and rhythm and blues in one package ....

Burke [and Berns] had a difficult relationship. Burke distrusted the young producer, and often spoke of him disparagingly, but later acknowledged Berns as "a genius" and "a great writer, a great man." Cissy Houston, who provided backing vocals on several of Burke's songs that were produced by Berns, believed "Burke changed his mind about Bert as soon as Sol started working with him in the studio. Bert's emotion-charged songs and Sol's gospel delivery was a marriage made in heaven."

Although Burke recognized Berns's skill for crafting hit records, he rejected two Berns compositions, "Hang on Sloopy" (later recorded by (The McCoys), and "A Little Bit of Soap", a recent hit for The Jarmels. ... In frustration after Burke had rejected his song choices, Berns offered him a final song, "Cry to Me", which Berns sang to him very slowly. According to Burke in a 2008 interview: "I said 'That's terrible. It's just too slow for me, I don't like slow songs.' And Mr Wexler says, 'Listen this guy writes for you, you're pissing him off. You're pissing me off, too.'" ...

Released in 1962, "Cry to Me" became Burke's second entry in the US charts, peaking at #5 on the rhythm-and-blues charts On March 20, 1962, Burke sang "Cry to Me" on American Bandstand. ...

After "Cry to Me", Burke became one of the first performers to be called a "soul" artist. In "Cry to Me", and in his "most popular recordings from 1962 onward, elements of the African-American folk-preaching style", which incorporated "the fusion of speech and song", "the use of repetition or elongation for emphasis", and the improvisation of "hollers and vocal melismas", the "flowers and curlicues of gospel singing",are salient. ...
The Wikipedia article about Solomon Burke includes the following passages:
Burke was born James Solomon McDonald on March 21, 1940 in the upper floor of his grandmother Eleanor Moore's home, a row house in West Philadelphia. Burke was the child of Josephine Moore and an absentee father. His mother Josephine was a nurse, schoolteacher, concert performer and pastor. Burke was consecrated a bishop at birth by his grandmother in the Solomon's Temple, a congregation of the United House of Prayer for All People, which she founded at her home in Black Bottom, West Philadelphia. When Burke was nine, his mother married rabbi and butcher Vincent Burke and had his name changed to Solomon Vincent McDonald Burke. ....

Burke credited his grandmother as his main spiritual and musical influence. He learned how to sing all forms of music from his grandmother's coaching him to listen to music on the radio. Burke began preaching at the age of seven at the Solomon's Temple. He was described in his young preaching years as a "frantic sermonizer" and "spellbinding in his delivery"; and was soon nicknamed the "Boy Wonder Preacher" for his charismatic preaching in the pulpit. Burke became a pastor of the congregation at age 12, appeared on the radio station WDAS, and later hosted a gospel show on WHAT-AM, mixing songs and sermons in broadcasts from Solomon's Temple. On weekends he traveled with a truck and tent, to Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas to carry on the spiritual crusade of his church. ....

From an early age Solomon Burke worked to supplement his family's income. He recalled: "I used to deliver grocery orders in a little wagon I made out of fish boxes. When I was seven, I sold newspapers out of my own newsstand on the corner of 40th and Lancaster. I had the first 99-cent car wash, which was located at 40th and Wallace outside Al's Barber Shop. We had it there because he was the only one who would let us use his water. We could wash your car in 20 minutes. I had four or five guys, gave 'em each a nickel for each car." Another briefly held early job was as a hot dog seller at Eddie's Meat Market, where his friend Ernest Evans, later known as Chubby Checker, also worked.

Burke eventually graduated from John Bartram High School. He first became a father at 14.

During high school, Burke formed and fronted the quartet, the Gospel Cavaliers. He received his first guitar from his grandmother, later writing his first song, "Christmas Presents". The Cavaliers began performing in churches. It was around this time that Burke met Kae "Loudmouth" Williams, a famed Philadelphia deejay with help from Williams' wife, Viola, who saw Burke and the Cavaliers perform at church.

Before entering a gospel talent contest in which a record deal was for first prize, the group split up. Burke entered the contest, held at Cornerstone Baptist Church, as a solo artist and won the contest against eleven other competitors. Soon, several labels including Apollo, Vee-Jay Records and Peacock Records pursued the 15-year-old. .... Burke signed with Apollo Records in late 1955, following the departure of gospel singer and the label's primary star Mahalia Jackson to Columbia. ...

Burke recorded nine singles for the label during his two-year tenure, releasing his first single, "Christmas Presents", on Christmas Eve of 1955. ... His early records did not sell well ... Burke was abruptly dropped from Apollo following a violent argument with manager Kae Williams over performance royalties. Burke claimed Williams had him "blackballed" from the industry following this move. ...

Following his initial Apollo departure, Burke struggled to record or get club dates, and an argument with his mother left him homeless. ... During this time, Burke studied the Islamic faith. ... Soon afterwards, he married Delores Clark ... and soon had seven children. As his family grew, Burke trained for a while to be a mortician at Eckels College of Mortuary Science, graduating from mortuary science, and finding work at a funeral home. ...

In November 1960, he signed with Atlantic Records. .... At the time of Burke's signing, two of Atlantic Records' major stars, Bobby Darin and Ray Charles, had left the label for better deals ... Burke created a string of hits that carried the label financially and represented the first fully realized examples of the classic soul sound." Burke reportedly helped keep Atlantic Records solvent from 1961 to 1965 with his steady run of hit records.

Burke recorded thirty-two singles with Atlantic ... Burke's second single for the label was the country single, "Just Out of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms)", which became his first charted single, reaching #24 on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaking at #7 on the rhythm-and-blues charts. The song also became Burke's first million-seller.

His next hit came with "Cry to Me", which reached #5 on the rhythm-and-blues chart in 1962 and was described as one of the first songs to mix country, rhythm-and-blues and gospel. After the release of "Cry to Me", Burke was among one of the first artists to be referred to as a "soul artist".

Almost immediately after signing to Atlantic, [record producer Jerry] Wexler and Burke clashed over his branding and the songs that he would record. According to Burke, "Their idea was, we have another young kid to sing gospel, and we’re going to put him in the blues bag." As Burke had struggled from an early age with "his attraction to secular music on the one hand and his allegiance to the church on the other," when he was signed to Atlantic Records he "refused to be classified as a rhythm-and-blues singer" due to a perceived "stigma of profanity" by the church, and rhythm-and-blues' reputation as "the devil's music."

Burke indicated in 2005: "I told them about my spiritual background, and what I felt was necessary, and that I was concerned about being labeled rhythm-and-blues. What kind of songs would they be giving me to sing? Because of my age, and my position in the church, I was concerned about saying things that were not proper, or that sent the wrong message. That angered Jerry Wexler a little bit. He said, ‘We’re the greatest blues label in the world! You should be honored to be on this label, and we’ll do everything we can – but you have to work with us.’" To mollify Burke, it was decided to market him as a singer of "soul music" after he had consulted his church brethren and won approval for the term. .... Burke is credited with coining the term "soul music". ...

He "became known as much for his showmanship as he did his voice. He would often take the stage in a flowing, 15-foot-long cape and bejeweled crown .... As he increased in weight, "Burke’s sheer bulk meant that he could never be a dancer ... Consequently, over the years Burke "evolved a fervently demonstrative stage act", that were often compared with religious revival meetings. Burke ... would adopt the "house-wrecking" tactics of black preachers, and their shows functioned in much the same way as black religious events in that performer and audience became immersed in the music, arriving together at an ecstatic state that allowed them to feel a deep intensity of experience. .... Burke "turned theatres like the Apollo and the Uptown into churches, he had folk running down the aisles to be saved by his music."
The showmanship of Burke's later years is illustrated by the following video:


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The Rolling Stones recorded the song "Cry to Me" in 1965.