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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"Dirty Dancing" is the Greatest Movie of All Time

Below are excerpts from an article titled Dirty Dancing is the Greatest Movie of All Time, written by Irin Carmon and published in
The greatness of Dirty Dancing was not lost on me in my near-daily viewings as a child and preteen, re-enacting every dance with my sister. What I learned a little later: it's a great, brave movie for women.

That it was a wildly successful, commercial film, widely seen as "ugly duckling gets the guy" doesn't change that, although screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein told me this week it always dismayed her that that's how people saw it. In her mind as in mine, Jennifer Grey's Baby is a strong-minded idealistic young woman with her own interests, who doesn't have to change herself to get the guy even as she undergoes a transformation from gawky wallflower to confident onstage dancer. But Patrick Swayze's Johnny, too, changes and learns from her, under the force of her stubborn, naive belief that you can "fight harder."

"I conceived of her and made her a fighter. A girl who just won't give up... and who doesn't expect the world to be handed to her. There's a lot she doesn't understand, but she works very, very hard," says Eleanor. ....

The first time we glimpse Baby, she's reading a book called Plight Of The Peasant, because she's going to major in the economics of underdeveloped countries and not English. The daughter of the first generation of American Jews to read widespread upper-middle class prosperity, if not elite cultural acceptance, she is swathed in a pre-Kennedy assassination liberalism. But her time at Kellerman's that summer is a loss of innocence in one significant way — and I'm not talking about her virginity.

Told her whole life that she could do anything and change the world, she's faced with the hypocrisy of a long-shunned minority enacting its own unexamined exclusion, this time on class grounds. The guests at Kellerman's look comfortable, but they were raised in the Depression and traumatized by World War II. She can contrast the welcome her family received at the resort with the chilly, dismissive one Johnny and his working class dance crew gets. She can dance with the owner's son and thaw a little when she learns he's going freedom riding with the bus boys, then see how he treats Johnny. She can find out that the supposed prize, Yale Medical school and out-WASPing-the-WASPs Robbie, is also an Ayn Rand-reading cad whose life philosophy is, "Some people count, some people don't."

.... Eleanor Bergstein says the moment Johnny falls in love with Baby is when she screws up the lift in their first performance at the Sheldrake and does what she called the "hitchhiker move." ...

This is a "false climax," Eleanor says. Another movie would have built up to a performance she got perfectly right (and indeed there is one, later), and she gets the guy. Instead, they come back to Penny's botched abortion, a still incredibly rare and key plot point that Eleanor says she put in back in the mid-1980s because she was afraid Roe v. Wade would be overturned. ....

And she likes sex. Did I mention she likes sex? Watch, if you will, how she slowly, deliberately surveys his body, ...
You'll have to read the entire article to read its juicy parts.

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