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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

History of Borscht Belt Hotels and Bungalow Colonies in the Catskills

Hudson Valley magazine has published an article, written by David Levine and tiled History of Borscht Belt Hotels and Bungalow Colonies in the Catskills. The article's beginning:

As geography, the Catskills are a mountainous region of southeastern New York State. As synecdoche, they are a now-vanished way of life. For your parents and grandparents, the Catskills from the 1920s through the 1970s was the Borscht Belt, the Jewish Alps, “Solomon” County, the summer place to be if you were Jewish.

A blurb on the home page of the Catskills Institute says it well: “New Yorkers hungry for mountain air, good food, and the American way of leisure came to the mountains by the thousands, and by the 1950s, more than a million people inhabited the summer world of bungalow colonies, summer camps, and small hotels. These institutions shaped American Jewish culture, enabling Jews to become more American while at the same time introducing the American public to immigrant Jewish culture.”

The Catskills had been a resort area for Gentiles in the 19th century. As Eastern European Jews immigrated in the early 20th century, some became farmers in the area. And as their urban peers became more prosperous, they looked to do something they could never have imagined doing in the old country: take a vacation. They weren’t welcome in most of what was still an anti-Semitic world, so the Jewish farmers began taking on boarders. Their boarding houses morphed into small hotels and bungalow colonies — a cluster of small rental summer homes. ...

“Once Jews started to go in large numbers, they had their own built-in community,” says Dr. Phil Brown, a professor of sociology and health sciences at Northeastern University and director of the Catskills Institute. “Farms, businesses, professionals, day schools, yeshivas. Yiddish was spoken, 95 percent were kosher. And they also liked being around their own people.”

The big resorts — like Grossinger’s, Kutsher’s, the Concord, and the Nevele — “were pioneers of the all-inclusive vacation,” Brown says, offering three meals a day, snacks, entertainment, child care, sports facilities, everything you can get now at Club Med — plus a knish to die for. ...

The entertainment was first-rate. Musicians like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Dean Martin, and comics Rodney Dangerfield, Henny Youngman, Woody Allen, and Jerry Seinfeld all toured the hotels.
In regard to sexual shenanigans between female guests and male workers, the article includes this remark by Tania Grossinger, whose family owned the hotel pictured above.
Marital relations were very confusing to me as a child. I saw so much infidelity — and it wasn’t limited to men. I remember once, when I was around 10 years old, I heard about a woman I knew who was getting married. My mother asked me why I was so excited about it. “Because then she can go to sleep with the lifeguards. That’s what all ladies do when they get married, don’t they?”
The article includes also this reminiscence about the performance of foul-mouth comedian Lenny Bruce at a hotel at the beginning of the 1950s.
In 1950, my father, Jack Kramer, hired Lenny Bruce to be the master of ceremonies for our hotel, Kramers on Luzon Lake. Lenny was great. He tumulled, he danced, he told jokes. My father was happy.

In fact, he rehired Lenny for the 1951 season. That summer, Lenny brought his new wife Honey along. They were still a happy couple. In fact, several times a week my father had to have Lenny paged over our booming loudspeaker system. A temporarily chastened Lenny would straggle back from a private escape on the lake or from a romantic walk in the woods to conduct the daily dance lesson by the pool. My father was not so happy with Lenny that summer.

Lenny suggested that he invite some of his entertainer friends to do a late show at the hotel’s casino a few nights a week. In return for providing extra entertainment for our guests, he wanted 50 percent of the bar take after midnight. Since our guests were all asleep by midnight, and the bar take past that hour was zero, my father gladly accepted.

Lenny brought in jazz musicians, comics, even strippers to our little casino. For 1951 only, Kramers was the hottest hotel in the Catskills.

Several weeks into this arrangement, there was a particularly large, raucous crowd at Lenny’s show. A couple of guests knocked on my father’s door to demand that he quiet down the crowd. Reluctantly, my father ventured downstairs.

When he arrived at the casino, there was a pudgy, pimply-faced kid on stage talking dirty in New York English and broken Yiddish. The crowd loved it, but this was too much for my father. He marched on stage in his bathrobe, slippers, and cigar and kicked the young comic off the stage.

The next week or so Lenny got more morose with the guests, and more attentive to Honey. So about the 15th of August, when the crowd was thinning out anyway, my father fired Lenny. He figured he would get an MC for Labor Day Weekend, and save two weeks’ pay.

The Irish Catskills

Recently the PBS television channel broadcast an hour-long documentary about the "Irish Catskills". Here is the documentary's trailer.

The Irish Catskills was an area around East Durham, New York, that featured many hotels that, in the summer, hosted large numbers of Irish-Americans from New York City and other large cities. This Irish phenomenon was similar to the Jewish phenomenon portrayed in the movie Dirty Dancing.

The documentary was produced by Kevin Ferguson, an Irish-American whose family visited the Irish Catskills every summer when he was growing up. An article about Ferguson and his documentary, titled The History of the Irish Alps, was published by Hudson Valley magazine. Here is an excerpt from that article:
“It was such a bizarre place,” Ferguson recalls. “The town was completely transformed into an Irish town in summers. It’s where my parents met, and where many Irish couples met, on the dance floor. It’s where I learned to dance. It was charming and odd in so many ways, and hard to describe in words, and the fire prompted me to go into film. It needs moving images and sound, because it is so imbued with music and dance. It’s obvious, really.”

When Ferguson’s mother emigrated from County Cavan to America in 1950, her first address was a small boarding house, owned by her sister, called Mullan’s Mountain Spring Farm in East Durham. Ferguson says that Irish immigrants had been visiting the area, which was previously predominantly German, since the late 1800s. The landscape reminded many of them of the old sod, what with its lush, soft, rolling green hills. In the 1930s and ’40s, with the Depression and then war in Europe, many Germans sold their boarding houses and businesses to those of Irish descent, and the Irish Alps were truly born.

The towns of Leeds, South Cairo, Oak Hill, and East Durham offered boarding and sustenance at places with evocative names like the Shamrock House, the Weldon House, O’Neill’s Cozy Corner, O’Neill’s Tavern, Kelly’s Brookside Inn, and McKenna’s Irish House. In the summer, city dwellers looking to escape the heat and dirt headed upstate for the clean mountain air. As with the Borscht Belt, the Irish Alps hit its heyday after World War II, from the 1950s through the early 1970s. In 1960 there were upwards of 40 Irish-run hotels or boarding houses in the area, Ferguson says, filled each summer with Irish families singing, dancing, and playing music. “Leeds reminds me of a village in Ireland, with one main road, a few storefronts. It’s only a block long, but in the day there was a street car,” he says. “That’s how much activity there was.”

The union organizer, Michael Quill, played a big role in that. As one of the founders of the Transport Workers Union of America, established in the 1930s in New York City, he helped Irish workers earn better pay and more time off. Many had been spending any free time in the Rockaways, a smorgasbord of Irish, Jewish, and Italian retreats. Now, they could travel farther, for longer periods, and be with their own.
The documentary is well done. It includes many old video clips and many interviews.

A popular activity at these hotels was traditional Irish music and dance. The following video is not from the PBS documentary, but it shows that kind of music and dance.

Because I am interested in Dirty Dancing, I was particular interested in a part of the PBS documentary that described a radical change in the Irish Catskills music that took place at the end of the 1950s and 1960s. In Ireland itself, there was a music fad of so-called "show bands", and such bands toured in the Irish Catskills. During those few years, those "show bands" became more popular among young Irish-Americans than the traditional, folk-music bands. If someone wanted to make a movie like Dirty Dancing about the Irish Catskills, that invasion of Irish "show bands" would provide an interesting setting.

Here are two videos that show the look and sound of that period's "show bands".

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Movie Depicting a Break-Up Between a Daughter and her Father

Movie reviewer Jason Bellamy wrote a brilliant essay about Dirty Dancing. The following passage describes how Baby and her father change their relationship during the story.

Baby and her father Jake Houseman
at the beginning of the movie Dirty Dancing
... Baby “becomes a woman,” as they say, in the way she grows as a dancer, in the way she starts to exude confidence with her body, in the way she starts to understand the complexities of Penny's predicament, in the way she relates to her sister and, maybe more than anything, in the way she relates to her father.

Dirty Dancing is, no doubt, a romance between Baby and Johnny, but it's also something of a breakup movie for Baby and her doctor father, played by Jerry Orbach. It's not just that Baby professes her love for her dad in her opening voice-over and then falls for Johnny. It's that over time Baby allows herself to become a woman in her father's eyes.

This, as I've been told numerous times by female friends, can be one of the most difficult transitions a daughter makes. It's one thing to have sex. It's another thing to allow your father to know you're having sex, and that you see yourself as a woman, and that you're not his perfect little girl anymore, as much as you'll always love him.

In one of the movie's best scenes, Baby confronts her father and accuses him of insincerity and classism, as he stares out into the distance, only occasionally glancing his daughter's way, saying nothing. That's a big deal: to call the hero of your youth a liar. But the part that really stings is when Baby admits, “There are a lot of things about me that aren't what you thought.” That's the heart of the matter, and it breaks both of their hearts to confront it.

Later, Johnny will thank Baby for sticking up for him, praising her for her heroism, but even he won't understand what it costs Baby to let her father see the truth. It's an incredibly brave act — Baby standing before her father much more so than standing up for Johnny — and it's evidence of the movie's greatness that her face-to-face admission seems so genuine, that Baby's evolution feels so complete.

As Baby storms off, {Director Emile] Ardolino's camera studies her father's pained face as he bites his lip and briefly turns in his daughter's direction, devastated at his own hurt, and Baby's too, clearly wanting to call out to her but not knowing what to say. It's a gracious shot that you won't find in a lot of movies, and it's a testament to the film's understanding heart: watching your daughter become a woman before your eyes isn't easy either.

It's scenes like that one, as much as Johnny's climactic line (“Nobody puts Baby in a corner”) and the triumphant final dance, that made a generation identify with and fall in love with this film. I can't tell you the number of women roughly my age who remember seeing Dirty Dancing for the first time the way guys my age remember their first R-rated movie. For many, Dirty Dancing was, much like Baby's experience at Kellerman's, a stepping stone toward an enticing yet intimidating new phase of life.
Baby and her father Jake Houseman
near the end of the movie Dirty Dancing
 I have read many essays about Dirty Dancing, and Bellamy's is the very best. Read it all.

In another essay, Bellamy wrote:
I continue to get a giggle out of the film's penultimate scene. Johnny and Baby have just danced their hearts out, and now everyone is on their feet, infected by the moment, shaking their thang. Johnny and Baby are smiling at one another and Johnny says, "Let's go." They're heading toward the door, heading outside to who knows where, when Baby's father stops them and delivers his apology.

It's a terrific apology, by the way, so in character for the principled yet protective father.

* First to Johnny, in regard to Penny's pregnancy and abortion, "When I'm wrong I say I'm wrong."

* Then to Baby, "You looked wonderful out there."

Short. Straightforward. Sweet. Everybody wins in that scene. Johnny gets the next best thing to an arm wrapped around him. Baby gets to be her father's prized possession once again and a young woman at the same time. And Dad gets to set things straight. ...

One of the strongest scenes in that movie is the one at the breakfast table the night after Baby's father treats Penny. The mother is perfectly oblivious. And the unspoken tension between father and daughter is just right. Lots of wonderful little moments like that.

To jump a few scenes back, I also love that when Baby wakes up her dad she doesn't tell him what's wrong, [he] just just picks up his medical bag. Perfect.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Fan Fiction -- "More Dirty Dancing -- The Reunion"

The website Fan Fiction is a forum where amateur writers can publish their own stories based on various movies and other genres. The website has 184 fan-fiction stories about the movie Dirty Dancing.

Here I will summarize a fan-fiction story titled More Dirty Dancing -- The Reunion, written by Susan Friedman in 2002.


In June 2000, on the weekend after Memorial Day, Francine "Frannie" Silver is driving in her new car on a trip to surprise her parents on their 25th wedding anniversary. Frannie Silver is the daughter of Baby Houseman, who now calls herself "Franny". Franny the daughter has found the diary of Franny (Baby) the mother. Franny the daughter stops her car at a rest stop and begins to read her mother's diary at its first page.


The diary begins in May 1966. Frannie (Baby) writes that she has just completed her third year, majoring in pre-med, at Mount Holyoke college. Next year Frannie (Baby) will transfer to Columbia University.

During the two previous summer vacations, 1964 and 1965, Frannie (Baby) had worked with the Peace Crops. She would not do so during the summer of 1966, however, because she has been invited to attend Penny Johnson's wedding. Penny dances in the chorus line of a Broadway show, called "Dancing Feet", and she will marry the show's producer.

Frannie (Baby) will spend the summer of 1966 with her parents in their home in Great Neck, New York. Frannie's roommate and best friend, Rochelle Silver, also will spend the summer there with Frannie. (Frannie and Rochelle both have the last name Silver.)

While writing her diary in May 1966, Frannie (Baby) recalled the summer of 1963.
I'll never forget that summer. It was the summer that I lost my innocence, the summer of Kellerman's and Johnny Castle. We had lost touch over the years, with me going to college and the Peace Corps. Johnny was headed for New York, with Penny at his side.

After the last show of the seasons, Mr. Kellerman had apologized to Johnny and asked him to come back next season, but the answer Johnny had given him was no.

Two talent scouts had been in the audience and had approached Johnny with a deal. They had been watching the last dance on stage and his partner, but I  had said I wasn't Johnny's partner at all. That's when I identified Penny as his partner.
Writing her diary in May 1966, Frannie (Baby) thinks that she might meet Johnny at Penny's wedding.

On June 3, 1966, Frannie (Baby) wrote in her diary that she had settled back into her parents' home in Great Neck. Rochelle too is staying there. Frannie's sister Lisa is married to her interior-design instructor, owns an interior-design store, has given birth to a son, and is pregnant again.

One June 4, 1966. Frannie wrote in her diary that Rochelle and Franny have driven into Manhattan to watch Penny dance in her show, which is called "Dancing Feet". Rachelle and Frannie see on the theater's poster that the show's choreographer is Johnny Castle.


Now the story returns to June 2000, when Frannie (Baby's daughter) is reading her mother's diary.  She recalls that her mother has told her about Johnny's successful career as a Broadway dancer and choreographer. Frannie (Baby's daughter) had been so inspired by her mother's stories about Johnny Castle that she (Baby's daughter) had studied dance and eventually became a ballet dancer.

Now as an anniversary surprise, she (Baby's daughter) wants to organize a dance tribute to take place at Kellerman's resort. While she (Baby's daughter) was organizing this dance tribute, she found her mother's diary.


Now the story returns to June 1966, when Frannie (Baby) is writing her diary. In three days, Frannie (Baby) will be a bride's maid at Penny's wedding. Frannie (Baby) recalls that after watching "Dancing Feet" she had gone backstage and met Johnny. Frannie and Johnny had tearfully embraced and had said they missed each other.

In the following days, Frannie (Baby) and Johnny met several times at the theater. The show's director has a daughter named Camille who is trying to attract Johnny.

Johnny arranged for the theater to hire Franny (Baby) and her friend Rochelle to work backstage. In this situation, Franny (Baby) and Johnny gradually grow close together again. However there is a problem, which is that Franny (Baby) is engaged to a man named Paul Silver, the older brother of her best friend, Rochelle Silver.
Paul Silver and I weren't officially engaged yet. Not that he didn't want to or hadn't asked me over and over. For some reason, I kept putting him off.

Paul was Rochelle's older brother, though they hardly looked alike. He as twenty-three, just about Johnny's age. Paul had just graduated from the University of Maryland with a Liberal Arts degree. This way, he said, he could do just about anything and wait for me to finish Mount Holyoke.

He was taking a summer course in mathematics that would give him a certificate in Certified Public Accounting. He was going to work for a prestigious firm in the fall. He was excellent in math and wanted to be a mathematician all his life. The way that Paul explained it is that this would give him that opportunity. Once he was established, he said, after we were married, he would open up his own firm. He had so much confidence in himself that he knew it was going to work.

Paul Silver was very ambitious and a credit to any woman. I just wasn't sure if I was the right one.
Later, Frannie (Baby) writes in her diary about the rehearsal dinner for Penny's wedding. Franny as a bride's maid would be paired with Johnny.

After the wedding rehearsal, everyone went to a dinner at a pizza restaurant in Little Italy. There, Penny told the others about Robbie Gould. He had finished medical school and was getting into trouble for fooling around with nurses.

After the rehearsal dinner, Penny let Frannie (Baby) and Johnny stay overnight in her apartment. The diary does not say what happened that night in Penny's apartment.

Later, Frannie (Baby) wrote in her diary about Penny's wedding. It was a Roman Catholic wedding. Johnny played the role of Penny's father and gave Penny away in the wedding ceremony. The parents of Frannie (Baby) attended the wedding.
Daddy and Johnny spoke together as if they were old friends. At one point, my father put hs arm around Johnny's shoulders. I smiled, remembering back to 1963 when Johnny and I were standing on a hill watching my father walk out of the main house of Kellerman's with his arms around Robbie Gould and Lisa.

Now the story returns to the summer of 2000, when Frannie Silver (Baby's daughter) is planning the dance tribute for her mother Franny (Baby Houseman) and father, Paul Silver. Frannie (Baby) ended up marrying Paul Silver because Johnny had eloped with Camille, the daughter of his Broadway show's director.


That's about the first fifth of the story. I don't want to give away the story's ending. Read the whole story here.

Eleven Plot-Holes in "Dirty Dancing"

Essayist Lucy Gransbury had watched Dirty Dancing "easily over a hundred times" when she persuaded her boyfriend to watch it for his first time. As they watched together, Gransbury for her own first time noticed many "plot holes".
While I was watching my man watch my favourite movie, I was suddenly more sensitive to all the mistakes in the film.

“Come on, guys, you’re losing him! LIFT!” I yelled inside my head, while noticing plot-hole after plot-hole after plot-hole, until I wasn’t even sure if I liked the movie any more.
Based on this experience, Gransbury wrote an article titled 11 plot holes in Dirty Dancing we’ve only just noticed, which was published on the Mama Mia website.

I especially liked Gansbury's remarks about the following "plot-holes". The images and their captions were provided by Gransbury in her article.


Baby lies about checking on her sister.

When the dorky Neil Kellerman takes Baby outside (“I love to watch your hair blowing in the breeze…” UGHH), she sees her sister stumble out of the woods with Robbie The Creep, crying, with her skirt tugged down, asking for an apology. There’s clearly been some kind of sexual assault, guys. Baby shrugs it off. Whatever, sister. Deal.

But then, when Neil takes Baby into the industrial kitchen and she sees Penny crying on the ground, she says to Neil, “I better go check on Lisa”. And then she runs to find Johnny so he can help Penny.

SO… Baby lied about helping her sister after she’d clearly been sexually assaulted, so she could help a stranger who was crying for a reason Baby didn’t know about yet. And then still doesn’t check on Lisa.


Thanks, sis. I'll be fine.

Why does Baby have to fill in anyway?

Baby has to learn how to dance with Johnny so that Penny can have an abortion. That’s the plot, and if you think about it too hard, it’s already kind of dodgy. But in the scene when Baby gets nominated to fill the Penny-shaped hole, she asks Johnny why one of the other dancers at the resort can’t fill in for Penny at the Sheldrake performance.

His response; “No, Miss Fix-it. Somebody else can’t. Maria has to work all day, she can’t learn the routines. And Janet has to fill in for Penny. Everybody works here.”

So Maria is busy. And Janet is covering for Penny’s dance classes. But what about the FIFTY OTHER WOMEN CURRENTLY DANCING BEHIND YOU, JOHNNY? They are literally standing in a room full of dancing staff, none of whom are currently working. And Johnny asked two people.

I mean, I’m glad he wasn’t very thorough, or there’d be no movie. But, jeez Johnny… maybe ask around a bit more?

Maybe one of these 50 dancers could help.

When Lisa says “where is my beige iridescent lipstick?”

It’s not a plot hole. But it sounds like the shittest lipstick in the history of makeup. Classic Lisa.


Baby is obviously favoured by both parents.

This isn’t much of a revelation, because Lisa actually comments on it. “You’re not Daddy’s girl anymore.”

But if you watch the movie and really concentrate on it, it’s actually pretty horrific. The dad openly favours Baby until she screws up. And then he begrudgingly has an actual conversation with his other daughter who has been hanging out in his house for the past eighteen years, desperately awaiting the moment when her father will acknowledge her existence.

When Lisa gets up and sings her awful solo at the end, the parents are exchanging giggles at her shit-ness. And yet, when Baby interrupts the concert to dance with the man she’s been sleeping with behind her parents’ backs, they get all gooey and proud, with the mother even saying “I think she gets this from me”.

It’s okay Lisa. Someone will love you. Your therapist, maybe.

"Please love me, Daddy."


Why do they even let Johnny dance at the end?

They literally just fired this guy for sleeping with an underage guest. And then, when he casually walks into the hall and interrupts their prized final concert, Max Kellerman – the guy who spends half the movie yelling at Johnny – doesn’t even speak up. Johnny announces that he wants to dance, and everyone is just like “Meh, okay. Let’s clear the stage. The guy in the black leather jacket looks trustworthy. Let him dance.”

I mean, I’m SO GLAD they did… but you’d think at least that pain-in-the-ass Neil would try to stop him.

Even Newman doesn't stop them.


Baby’s dad doesn’t actually apologise to Johnny.

“I know you weren’t the one who got Baby in trouble. When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong.” says Jake Houseman to Johnny. But then doesn’t actually follow it with, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” Jeeez, Jake. You only accused him of knocking up his best friend, carelessly getting her butchered with a knife, and then perversely targeting your daughter. A vague apology should do it.


Baby wasn't even in the corner.

At best, nobody puts Baby next to a pillar.
But Johnny left them there.
So you’re right, Johnny. Nobody actually does put Baby in a corner.

The Final Scene with Different Sounds

This video was done by Mario Wienerroither for his YouTube page Musicless MusicVideos.

The 30th Anniversary DVD

The release date was February 7, 2017.

The two-disk set costs only $9.25 (nine dollars and twenty-five cents) at Amazon. The cost is zero if you are approved for an Amazon Rewards Visa Card.

The Amazon webpage is here.


NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN Patrick Swayze: In His Own Words

NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN Patrick Swayze Uncut

NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN Eleanor Bergstein Thoughts On A Lifetime Of DIRTY DANCING

Outtakes/ deleted/ alternate/ extended scenes

Music Videos

The DIRTY DANCING Phenomenon

The Rhythm Of The Dancing

Original Screen Tests

Cast & Crew Interviews (Jennifer Grey, Eleanor Bergstein, Miranda Garrison, Kenny Ortega)

Commentary with Writer/ Co-Producer Eleanor Bergstein

Commentary with Kenny Ortega, Miranda Garrison, Jeff Jur, Hilary Rosenfeld and David Chapman --Lionsgate


Here is one of the Amazon reviews:
The "feelies" in the Collector's Edition are nice; I like the map / brochure of the resort, and the mock shooting script was a fascinating read. I loved seeing the "emotive" / motivational tips in the story, and now I finally know how old Johnny was supposed to be in relation to Baby!

The script includes most of the deleted scenes, and some other information that didn't make it verbatem into the final cut.

The "I carried a watermelon" wristlet seems fairly sturdy, but with some fraying on the cut / unfinished edges inside. As cute as it is, I probably won't use it, instead keeping it with the rest of the box. The same for the Kellerman's keychain and the compact. The "vintage" postcards are nice, and all the printed feelies are very high quality.

As for the movie itself, I've only watched the Blue Ray disc, not the DVD or the digital copy. The print is MUCH cleaner than the 10-year anniversary DVD I have, which looked like it was transferred from an old VHS. There's still a slight grainy quality to the picture, but the colors have been sharpened (some of the clothing and graphics which looked pink on my DVD are now a much more vibrant red) and the audio is crisp and clear.

I have some issues with the closed captions; there are some passages that I know are wrong, some lines that are shortened or condensed (which leave out some of the context of the original lines), and I don't like that they don't at least acknowledge the music cues, as the soundtrack is almost a character in itself. Even a simple "(Big Girls Don't Cry playing in background)" would enhance the captions. I did just use the English subtitle track; maybe the other one is better.

I love all the extended / deleted / alternate scenes included, and the "Happy Birthday, Dirty Dancing" featurette is wonderful, covering the original movie, the stage show, and the upcoming television movie. We saw a truncated version of this feature when we went to the Fathom Events screening, and there's a bit in there that just made me sob happy tears.

Overall, this is an amazing anniversary collection. The restoration of the film is beautiful, the shooting script adds so much more nuance to the story, and the feelies add just a beautiful look into the past.


Facebook has a video about the DVD.

The Swayzes on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"

A French Documentary About the Making of "Dirty Dancing"

Our Vacation at Kellerman's Resort

Jenna Wolfe Performs the Lift Scene in Lake Lure

A 1987 Interview of Cynthia Rhodes (Penny)

Here is Cynthia Rhodes in the 1983 movie Flashdance.

A "Dirty Dancing" Festival at Lake Lure

"Dirty Dancing" Movie Location Redux

Exploring the USA -- "Dirty Dancing" Locations

A video made by Mobile Instinct and provided on a YouTube page with this explanation:
Seeing the Dirty Dancing filming locations for the first time is a pretty incredible experience provided you are into the movie Dirty Dancing AND you love seeing movie locations. ....

There are lots of opinions about this scene and where exactly [the water-lift scene] was filmed. Lake Lure in North Carolina (a truly amazingly beautiful place) has claimed for years that it was filmed in Firefly Cove.

There used to be an old Boy Scout camp in the woods and the cabins were used in the movie as the staff’s bunks. The stairs and bridge that Baby dances on were also located there. HOWEVER there are still staff at Mountain Lake Hotel in Virginia who say it was absolutely filmed there, so who knows?

At this point it will probably be varying opinions forever due to the fact that both areas enjoy the revenue from Dirty Dancing visitors so both will keep claiming it was at their location. ...

Shortly after filming this I visited Lake Lure in North Carolina to see for myself what was left. The short answer is, not much. The Boy Scout camp was torn down years ago and is now a community of beautiful homes. I believe one of the homes was built on the original foundation of Johnny's cabin which is pretty cool. The long staircase exists as well and I was able to snap a photo of them. Unfortunately this is about all that's left.

However if you get the chance you should definitely check both locations out. Lake Lure is such a cool area with tons of outdoorsy things to do. Also, make sure you check out Mountain Lake Hotel in Virginia. Come for the amazing Dirty Dancing filming locations and stay for the incredible Hotel experience!

I had planned on visiting Mountain Lake Hotel for many years however it is so far off "the beaten path" that one must truly work a day into a trip to see this beautiful place. Trust me though, it is worth seeing if not for the hotel itself. Beautiful stone and wood work everywhere, beautiful views and of course the view of Baby's cabin! The hotel definitely embraces the movie and loves for visitors to stop in and look around. Keep an eye out for the little shed-like building in the parking lot that houses lots of movie memorabilia and information about what can be seen and where.

The lake mystery - I have to be honest, I hadn't done much research at all on the lake before I got there and was pretty surprised to see it almost completely gone. There are lots of rumors about what happened to it but the real truth is it is a scientific marvel. Extremely rare indeed. Apparently it is a natural occurrence for the lake to drain itself and then years and years later it will fill back up again. There is a video on the Mountain Lake Hotel website explaining this in more detail than my brain can muster up for you. But never the less, it is still such an awesome place!
The YouTube webpage includes this comment:
The lift scene was filmed at Lake Lure NC.. Firefly cove near where the old Boys Camp was located but has since been leveled for housing sites... Sorry dude but the lake where she danced out over the water on the elevated wooden deck & where the lift scene was filmed is in North Carolina and quite full of water.

Filming Locations

Stage Testing

One Last Dance -- Chicken Soup Version

This is a movie directed by Lisa Niemi (Swayze) and released in 2010.

A comment on the Amazon webpage about the movie.
So few films have been made about the dance world, and this one captures the heart of it, with the insane hours of hard work, the sweat, and the frayed egos. The plot of One Last Dance is based on Without a Word, a play Patrick Swayze and his wife Lisa Neimi created many years ago. It is a wisp of a story, mostly about the emotions and conflicts of three dancers who are past their performance peak, returning to the stage for a benefit gala, to face their fears and the relationships they left behind.

Writer/director/actress and dancer Neimi, who has an inner and outer beauty so lovely to watch, has put One Last Dance together on a shoestring budget, with tremendous skill and a marvelous cast. The company dancers are superb, with a technical virtuosity in many styles, from traditional to the most contemporary. George de la Pena plays Max Delano, one of the three leads, and will be remembered from his days with the American Ballet Theater and on Broadway, and is dynamic both as a dancer and an actor. Other standouts include Matthew Walker as Alex McGrath, a sadistic choreographer, and Stefan Wenta as Orest, a poetic teacher who is an inspiration to all. Patrick Swayze as Travis is a marvel, with the athleticism and energy of someone half his age.

The wonderful score is by Stacy Widelitz, with non-original music that ranges from Beethoven's 7th Symphony, to a cameo by Daniel Heifetz (grandson of the legendary Jascha Heifetz) as a street violinist. The cinematography by Albert Dunk is terrific on the dance sequences, which sometimes have a touch of surrealism using smoke and other effects, and there are some magnificent overhead crane shots. Dance is not an easy thing to film, and in One Last Dance we have scenes that are spectacular. The interesting and sometimes inspired choreography is by Alonzo King, Dwight Rhoden, Doug Varone, and Patsy Swayze (Patrick's mother).

As someone who spent 2 decades of my life immersed in the world of dance, I appreciate the authenticity of this film, and the excellence of its performers. It is sure to become a film classic for dancers and those who love to watch them. DVD extras include a "behind the scenes" piece, and commentary by Patrick and Lisa. Total running time is 100 minutes.

Here is another comment on the Amazon webpage.
This movie is not without flaws--the dialogue and acting occasionally seem flat, recycled storylines, melodrama, etc., yet I am a sucker for dance movies and loved it nonetheless.

It's pretty obvious from the get-go that Travis and Chrissa are soul mates destined to reconnect after seven years of separation and misunderstandings. When Alex, the emotionally abusive director of a New York Dance Company, goes too far with his criticisms, three dancers' lives are redirected. Chrissa has a nervous breakdown (we later learn that she was newly pregnant during this scene, so hormones and stress contributed to her break) while Travis (injured from overexertion) can do little to comfort her besides telling off Alex. Max, the other member of the pas de trois, carries off a sobbing and temporarily deranged Chrissa to the nearest mental health hospital. ...

Yes, the plot is the stuff of soap operas, but it has heart, and the real-life love between Patrick Swayze (Travis) and his wife, Lisa Niemi (Chrissa), is palpable on-screen. Also, I can always empathize with someone who is experiencing a breakdown of sorts. ...

Swayze and Niemi are no longer twenty-somethings, yet they hold their own in this physically demanding art form. They dance beautifully.

In the behind-the-scenes special feature, Swayze said that this production hired four choreographers to represent the latest happenings in the dance world. I loved the choreography and the dancing --it was breathtaking and innovative. I was thrilled to see some of the very same dancers in this movie who have graced the covers of Dance and Pointe magazines. The dancers said that they felt like they really were members of the movie's dance company and that there was a spirit of collaboration and non-competitiveness as well as a suspension of ego during filming. One dancer said that he and the other dancers could easily and happily tour the movie's original dances to (he confidentally believed) great acclaim.

Patrick Swayze Singing "She's Like the Wind"

The Video "Swayze Dancing"

This is a video that Patrick Swayze's mother, Patsy Swayze, made in 1988 about her dance studio.

"Dirty Dancing" on the Set

Video clips of the movie being made.

Behind The Scenes With Kenny Ortega

Barbara Walter's Interview of Patrick Swayze in 1988

Most of the interview is about Swayze's life.

The main conversation about Dirty Dancing is only from 10:20 to 11:45. Swayze says some people advised him not to do the movie, but he thought that he as an actor would be able to interpret Johnny Castle's role well.

A Moment from the Test Casting of Jennifer Grey

Baby begs Lisa to lie to their parents about Baby's whereabouts.

Lisa refuses to tell the lie. Furthermore, Lisa threatens to tattle about Baby to their parents.

Baby threatens to lie to their parents about a weekend in the past.
Lisa, remember that weekend when Mommy and Daddy went to Washington for Rita's daughter's wedding? You were supposed to stay with me. I'll tell them that you left me all alone and went to Hampton's Bay with Jerome.

But I didn't. I stayed with you.

They won't believe you. I never lie.

Patrick Swayze Talks About the Making of "Dirty Dancing"

The video was made in about 2016, as Swayze was dying of cancer.

Swayze talks about various people who participated in making the movie. The video includes film clips from the filming process.

0:00 - 0:30 = Moments in the movie

0:31 - 1:10 = Emile Ardolino

1:11 - 1:23 = Dance in culture

1:24 - 2:25 = Personal background as a dancer and actor

2:26 - 2:50 = Innocence and ideals in Dirty Dancing

2:51 - 3:25 = Similarities between Patrick and Johnny

3:26 - 3:49 = Screen tests

3:50 - 4:06 = Eleanor Bergstein

4:07 - 4:17 = The movie team comes together

4:18 - 4:29 = Kenny Ortega

4:30 - 4:45 = Differences between Patrick and Johnny as dancers

4:46 - 5:59 = Improvisation during filming

6:00 - 6:32 = Story-telling in the movie

6:33 - 6:57 = Jennifer Grey's performance

6:58 - 7:40 = Improvisation during filming

7:41 - 8:29 = The lift and trust

8:30 - 9:01 = The soundtrack

9:02 - 10:29 = She's Like the Wind

10:30 - 11:55 = Gratitude

11:56 - = Encapsulating a moment in our lives

An Interview with Patrick Swayze Before the Movie's Release

This interview of Patrick Swayze took place ...

* after August 5, 1987, when Jennifer Grey was involved in an automobile accident,

* before August 21, 1987, when Dirty Dancing was released.

The interviewer -- I do not know her name -- has seen the movie before its release and before this interview.

0:00 - 1:29 = Horses

1:30 - 1:43 = Lisa

1:44 - 2:04 = Two other recent movies

2:05 - 2:45 = Movies with horses

2:46 - 4:05 = Musicals

4:06 - 5:45 = Dance background

5:46 - 6:05 = Compliments for performance in Dirty Dancing

6:06 - 9:10 = The title "Dirty Dancing"

9:11 - 12:30 = Red Dawn

12:31 - 13:27 = Jennifer Grey

13:28 - 14:24 = Waiting for Dirty Dancing's release

14:25 - 16:50 = Practicing dances for Dirty Dancing

16:51 - 18:00 = Dance teachers

18:01 - 9:10 = Professional ambitions with Lisa

9:11 - 19:35 = Expectations for Dirty Dancing's success

19:36 - 20:20 = Future as a "sex symbol"

20:21 - 21:40 = Future as an actor

21:41 - 22:35 = Lisa's personality

22:36 - 27:08 = Questions re-asked

Deleted Scenes

0:00 - 0:55 = Baby sees Johnny caressing a woman in the forest at night

0:56 - 3:10 =  Baby, in her underwear, dances erotically with Johnny

3:11 - 4:16 = Baby and Johnny practice dancing in front of a mirror

4:17 - 5:11 = The Houseman family votes to go to Kellerman's resort

5:12 - 6:01 = Baby and Lisa primp in front of mirrors in their bedroom

6:02 - 6:22 = Lisa says that Baby is weird but "better than me"

6:23 - 7:12 = Johnny puts his luggage into his car trunk and says goodbye to Penny

7:13 - 8:16 = Resort guests, dressed up, dance in the gazebo

8:17 - 9:02 = Baby talks with her mother about breaking up with a boyfriend

9:03 - 11:02 = The resort comedian tells a series of jokes

11:03 - 12:09 = Baby listens to her father warn her about bad boys

Thursday, March 23, 2017

One of the most sexually disturbing movies I've encountered

David B. Witwer writes a blog with this goal:
My goal is to post more regularly about film, literature, or other arts, digging into style and form or unpacking themes from my own perspective (an amalgamation of maleness, whiteness, continental philosophy/critical theory, materialism, sacramental Christianity, etc.). I hope my thoughts will prove interesting, or at least challenging in some vaguely positive way.

.... When you let go, you are ready to receive all the beauty and grace which the world, angst-ridden as it may be, is prepared to gift to you. ... Life often seems to be out of our control (which it is) and many of the possibilities we face bring us anxiety. It takes a lifetime to learn how to live in such a world with peace ....
Witwer's blog article about Dirty Dancing includes these excerpts:
... I found Dirty Dancing to be irresistibly problematic (i.e. worthy of investigation) in terms of its morality. On the one hand, there is a lot that is morally exemplary, especially the actions of the protagonist, Baby. Baby wants to “save the world,” but she approaches her calling through the people directly in front of her. ...

Baby comes to the defense of Penny, a dancer at Kellerman’s who is impregnated and abandoned by one of the other staff. Baby’s actions are messy, yet in the end she draws on all of her relationships to get Penny the help she needs after a botched abortion. The event pits Baby’s family against her staff friends, yet she refuses to abandon either and continually tries to create peace between them. Surprisingly (from a realistic perspective), Baby’s efforts succeed.

Dirty Dancing is a film simultaneously naive and realistic. On the one hand, it addresses class issues and the consequences of pregnancy. On the other hand, its address of these issues only goes so far. Class issues are never resolved in any sustainable way, just resolved in a scene of rich guests and poor staff dancing together at the end. As resolution goes, this is drivel.

Penny’s abortion, likewise, is handled in an incredibly flippant way, drawing no real consequences (which is all too often unrealistic) partly due to Penny’s speedy and complete physical recovery. Any consequences from the real problems presented in the film are either ignored or swept under the carpet with a tenuous closed ending.

Where the film is really problematic, however, is its sexuality. Now, I must confess I was raised with a fairly moralistic approach to sexuality in films, an approach I might add that is shared by the MPAA and websites like my old favorite Such a perspective typically raises issue with nudity (as defined by the government) and explicit sexual activity over “softer” forms of sexuality, like “dirty dancing.”

I, however, have come to adopt a fairly opposite perspective. For this reason Dirty Dancing, despite its PG-13 rating and lack of nudity or explicit sex, is one of the most sexually disturbing movies I’ve encountered. For instance, the films first images are slowed-down exhibits of “dirty dancing,” an amalgamation of exposure and touching by complete strangers (i.e. without characterization). There’s a name for this: voyeurism.

Later, Baby’s coming of age is visualized by the sequential shrinking of her clothing. On the one hand, this can be seen as her growing confidence in her own body, which is a good and healthy thing. On the other hand, skin seems to be clearly treated as naturally sexual. ...

... sexual activity is treated as natural to any kind of romantic relationship. However, sex is treated as naturally emotional without being physical, the effect of before / after shot-pairs that eliminate the physical act. It is all to easy, in this realm, to ignore the physical complexities and consequences of sex, which cannot be separated from the act in the real, physical world.

Dirty Dancing thus reinforces the myths of sex without babies (despite its forgettable abortion subplot) and bodies (which have unique physiologies). There isn’t much the film gets right about sex, other than that everyone wants it and will pay for movie tickets to experience it vicariously. ...
In my own words, Witwer is disturbed by Dirty Dancing because it depicts Baby's sexual fling essentially as merely emotional fun with no significant consequences. Witwer seems to think not showing the sexual intercourse of Baby and Johnny causes the audience, ironically, "to ignore the physical complexities and consequences of sex". The movie merely tantalizes people about sex, instead of causing them to ponder sex profoundly.

Witwer's logic is nonsensical for people whose religious philosophies are superficial or absent. However, Dirty Dancing does disturb many religious people -- because of the abortion an also because of the casual sex.

Witwer apparently thinks that sexual intercourse to be a profound experience that should be limited to marriage. He explains his own attitude toward marriage in another essay, titled The Mysteries of Marriage. He wrote this marriage essay in July 2013 and his Dirty Dancing essay in January 2014. So, he was criticizing Dirty Dancing as a profoundly religious man who had been married a half-year. His marriage essay includes the following excerpts.
... my own marriage is just over a month away. At certain points this summer, I have lamented that I have not undertaken a more thorough theological study of marriage as preparation. Still, today I have received a rush of thoughts on a theological understanding of marriage, which I will offer as well as I can ....

I want to reflect on four mysteries of marriage and their symbolization in sacrament within the wedding ceremony.

The first begins from ... [with] an anthropology of personhood must be theologically derived .... a marriage of two persons is a sacrament (symbol, icon) of Trinitarian personhood and relationship. In marriage as in perichoresis (the “dance” of divine love), two persons exist in harmony, which I think can be understood in one sense as sharing of will. To share will, two persons must be in constant communication, and not just speaking but deeply listening to each other – both to the words the other says as well as the meditations of his or her heart. In the marriage ceremony, this is symbolized by what I will call the “unity moment,” traditionally the lighting of a candle – demarcating a sacred space for the joining of two fleshes (in Jean-Luc Marion’s full sense of the word).

A second element of Trinitarian love is the desire of each person to bless and serve the others. ... Leadership, within relationship, must be shared and expressed in each mode: blessing and service. In the marriage ceremony, this is well (albeit rarely) symbolized by foot washing, an act of humility and a gift of respect, devotion, and gentle care.

Third, Trinitarian love is characterized by eternity, that is, persistent and faithful presence. ... those who are married pledge to abide with each other in “sickness and health, for rich or for poor.” A marriage covenant is a commitment to eternal love for that person.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is one element of life that is not shared between Triune love and marriage. That element is suffering. The Triune life is one of infinite, divine joy, a mystery which we have little comprehension of here on earth. Earthly live, including married life, is not perpetual joy but brings many seasons of suffering. This difference, however, is key, for it is only in the context of divine joy that a marriage can thrive (or at least survive) even in seasons of suffering. ...

Marriage, in moments of suffering, receives grace and support from a church family, a larger body which is powerfully enlivened by Christ and can therefore be a mediator of grace to individual families. However, the Church is also prone to suffering, and thus its life is sustained by its being embraced in divine joy, in perichoresis. The sacrament of this joy and fellowship which sustains the Church, and by extension its members, is Holy Communion. This is why I think it essential to celebrate Holy Communion within a marriage ceremony: it is a symbol of the couple’s fellowship with their larger families, their larger families fellowship with the Church, the Church’s fellowship with Christ, and Christ’s fellowship with the Trinity. Each of these layers is connected through communion and each receives grace, ultimately, from the divine joy of the Trinity. ...

This understanding of marriage is, I think, a beautiful one, and thereby a compelling vision which anchors marriage within its true theological home. A marriage cut off from God is a marriage endangered, just as a marriage cut off from the Church is at risk. .... This, however, is the way I am coming to understand it and the way I hope to celebrate it in a little over a month.
People who think of marriage in this religious manner are disturbed by the casual sex in Dirty Dancing.

Everything Wrong With Dirty Dancing In 8 Minutes Or Less

This video -- which caused me to laugh aloud several times -- was done for a website called Cinema Sins, which includes many movies.

The YouTube page showing this video has more than 2,400 comments. This other YouTube page provides many Cinema Sins videos.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Eleanor Bergstein's Third Movie, "Let It Be Me"

Eleanor Bergstein wrote the screenplays for the movies It's My Turn, released in 1980, and Dirty Dancing, released in 1987. In this blog I have written three articles comparing those two movies.

Since I wrote those three articles, I have learned that Bergstein wrote the screenplay also for a third movie, Let It Be Me, released in 1995. Furthermore, Bergstein directed this movie when it was made in 1994.

Poster for the 1995 movie "Let It Be Me"
Little information is available about this movie, which never was shown in theaters or sold on DVDs. The movie is not listed in the Box Office Mojo webpages for movies released in 1995 or in 1996. The movie's budget was about $20 million, which would be a budget of about $30 million in the year 2017. The investors must have suffered a total loss.

A search on Amazon for the movie Let It Be Me finds no DVD. A search of the movie-reviewing website Rotten Tomatoes finds no review.

The movie was produced by a company called Rysher Entertainment, which  was taken over in 1993 by another company, named Cox Broadcasting. In the subsequent financial upheavals, Bergstein's 1995 movie was not marketed. In 1998, Entertainment Weekly reported the movie's disappearance as follows:
... Back in 1994, Eleanor Bergstein — best known for having written Dirty Dancing — made her directorial debut with Let It Be Me, a $20 million ballroom-dancing romance starring [Patrick] Stewart, Campbell Scott, and Jennifer Beals. But when the movie’s producer, Rysher Entertainment, closed its film division, the flick vanished with it.

"It’s very hard to get my hands on the film," Bergstein says. "I couldn’t even find anybody who could tell me how I could get the negatives back."

Rysher CEO Timothy Helfet says that the company nixed a U.S. theatrical release in favor of distribution to TV outlets worldwide. "With all the best intentions," he says, "the film did not turn out as we had hoped."

Now and then Bergstein gets word that a truncated version has popped up in Europe or Asia. "I get checks in the mail," she says. "That’s another way I find out where it’s showing."

Fortunately for my blog, however, the entire movie can be watched for free on YouTube.

YouTube also has the movie divided into parts, the first of which is here.

I watched the entire movie and expected it to be awful, but it is fairly good. It's certainly not bad. I think that most people who read this blog would enjoy watching the movie.


Let It Be Me stars Jennifer Beals, who had become famous 12 years earlier as the star of the 1983 dancing movie Flashdance. I loved Beals' acting performance in Let It Be Me. Beals plays a school teacher named Emily Taylor. A couple of scenes show her teaching in her classroom, and her students look to me like third-graders.

Christopher Scott and Jennifer Beale dancing in a scene in
Eleanor Bergstein's 1995 movie Let It Be Me.
The male co-star is Campbell Scott (the son of the famous actor George C. Scott and famous actress Colleen Dewhurst), who plays a psychiatrist named Gabriel Rudman.


When the story begins, Emily and Gabriel have been acquainted for seven months. They love each other and live together and are planning their wedding.

The character Emily is 29 years old (the actress Jennifer Beale was about 31 years old when the movie was made in 1994). Emily is keeping a secret from Gabriel. Twelve years previously, when she was 17 years old, she got pregnant from a high-school classmate named Bud (last name not mentioned). Emily and Bud were dancing partners in some program that is not explained in the dialogue. When Emily learned she was pregnant, she was not able to contact Bud, who was touring with a dance troupe. Therefore Emily had an abortion, and she had no contact with Bud for the following 12 years.

About a third of the way into the movie's story, Emily and Bud happen to meet again. Bud owns a dance studio where Emily's fiancé Gabriel, an incompetent dancer, has been taking dance lessons to prepare for the post-wedding party of Gabriel and Emily. Emily visits the studio to join Gabriel in his dance lessons, and there she meets Bud. Although 12 years have passed, Emily and Bud recognize each other immediately. They explain to Gabriel that they had known each other and danced together in high school

When they meet each other again in Bud's dance studio, he still does not know about Emily's pregnancy and abortion. Emily does not tell Bud until much later in the story.


The interrupted relationship between Emily and Bud in Let It Be Me might be based conceptually on the interrupted relationship between Baby Houseman and Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing. Suppose that Baby became pregnant from her fling with Johnny, got an abortion and then eventually became a school teacher and fell in love with a young psychiatrist. Meanwhile, Johnny established himself as a dance instructor and became the owner of a dance studio. Then, twelve years after their summer together at the Catskills resort, they happened to meet in Johnny's dance studio, where Baby's psychiatrist fiancé is learning to dance for the wedding party. That situation would have provided a plausible sequel to Dirty Dancing.

Baby's father was a Jewish doctor, but she herself wanted to become a social worker instead of a doctor. It's plausible that Baby eventually would have become a school teacher and fallen in love with a Jewish psychiatrist (the psychiatrist character's name Gabriel Rudman seems to me to be Jewish).

(Bergstein's first movie, It's My Turn, includes a character who is a psychiatrist as a significant element of the movie's Jewish subtext.)

Let It Be Me is not a real sequel to Dirty Dancing. Emily Taylor is not Baby Houseman, and Buddy is not Johnny Castle. However, Let It Be Me could have been made into a real sequel by changing just a few bits of the dialogue. Casting Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey into the two lead roles of Let It Be Me in the mid-1990s would have been extremely expensive, however.


In Let It Be Me, the character Bud is played by Jamie Goodwin, an actor whose appearance in some moments reminded me of Patrick Swayze. Goodwin never appeared in any other movie role, but I thought he acted and danced well in Let It Be Me.

Jamie Goodwin and Yancy Butler dancing
in a scene in the 1995 movie Let It Be Me.
Bud's lover and business partner in the dance studio is a female character named Corinne, played by the actress Yancy Butler, who has appeared as an actress in a series of dramas. She acted and danced superbly in Let It Be Me. Also, her physical appearance throughout the movie was extraordinarily photogenic.

Goodwin's and Butler's acting careers would have been boosted significantly if Let It Be Me had been released normally. From that movie, they would have developed many fans among the audiences who watched it in theaters, on DVDs and on cable television.

The Internet includes very few photographs of Goodwin and Butler in Let It Be Me, but a for-sale photograph can be viewed here.


Although I myself thought that Let It Be Me was a fairly good movie, I suppose that Rysher Entertainment's decision to not market it -- after spending $20 million to produce it -- was justified by negative reactions from test audiences.

I suppose that negative reactions were caused by the story's element of a canceled wedding. Although Emily and Gabriel love each other, their jealousies related to the dance instructors Bud and Corinne cause Emily and Gabriel to break up and cancel their wedding after the wedding dress has been chosen and all the invitations have been mailed. I think that ordinary women who want to watch a romantic movie would not like a movie in which a loving couple breaks up and cancels their wedding.

Although Emily and Bud eventually reconcile, marry and even have a baby, those happy developments happen after the main story, which ends sadly. Only in a brief epilogue do the movie viewers learn about the marriage and baby.


Let It Be Me includes a subplot involving a couple of older characters, played by Patrick Stewart and Leslie Caron. Stewart plays his role superbly, delightfully. Caron -- a French actress who became famous as a young woman for dancing opposite Gene Kelly in An American in Paris -- plays the role of an old woman who dances poorly.

Patrick Stewart and Leslie Caron dancing
in a scene in the 1995 movie Let It Be Me.
Unfortunately, Bergstein used this subplot to inject her liberal political concerns into the movie. In this subplot there are many snide comments about rich people and there is a long line of starving poor people receiving free soup from a charitable organization. I suppose that some people in test audiences would have been annoyed by Bergstein's gratuitous liberal propaganda.

At the movie's end, this older couple marries, and the post-wedding party assembles all the characters again in the dance studio. Although Bud and Corrine have broken up and Gabriel and Emily have broken up, the two couples dance again and begin their reconciliations. Thus the movie ends nicely.


The movie's story suffered from various implausibilities that annoyed me. For example, I thought it was implausible that ...

* Emily did not participate in Gabriel's dance lessons from the beginning,

* Emily could not contact Bud, a high-school classmate, when she became pregnant.

There were more implausibilities, but I do not want to belabor this consideration in this blog article. The implausibilities did not ruin the movie for me, but they did bother me as I watched it. Perhaps they were explained somewhat in dialogue that was edited out of the final movie.

Such implausibilities might have been a consequence of Bergstein's double roles as screenwriter and director. A separate person directing the movie might have recognized that some of the story's elements needed clarification. As the screenwriter, Bergstein knew her own screenplay and its presumptions too well.

In general, though, I am not critical of Bergstein as a director. In general, I liked the movie and was delighted by many of its moments.

I am writing this article three days after I watched the movie. As I have continued to think about the movie during that passage of time, the implausibilities have bother me less and the delightful moments dominate my memory.

It's too bad that the commercial failure of Let It Be Me ended Bergstein's career as a screenwriter and director. If the movie had been released normally and had at least broken even financially, Bergstein might have been able to write and direct some more movies. Eventually she might have accomplished another masterpiece like Dirty Dancing.


The movie Let It Be Me would be a good dissertation subject for a graduate student in film studies. The movie's production and failure is a story that should be researched, told and analyzed. There should be a lot of thought-provoking lessons to be learned.


Below are some comments about Let It Be Me that were posted on IMDB or YouTube.


Why is there such a sharp division of opinion on this charming movie? I suspect because it is a "difficult" romantic comedy.

In almost all romantic comedies, it's clear from the credits which couples will end up with each other. The male and female leads are destined to be paired, as are the secondary male and female stars, and the pleasure lies in seeing the couples correctly sorted out after a lot of confusion.

In Let It Be Me, the only absolutely perfect pairing is that of third leads Patrick Stewart and Leslie Caron.

It's a very close question whether the engaged couple, Campbell Scott and Jennifer Beals, and the dance studio partners, James Goodwin and Yancey Butler, are really destined for each other or whether they should change partners and dance.

"Some people just belong together," Beals says, but which people is a harder question to answer here than in most comedies, though it is satisfactorily answered by the ending.


Dance movies usually keep my interest and Let It Be Me did just that. However, the two main couples had very little chemistry and as I watched it I would have been like with a better cast.

Jamie Goodwin was wooden and mechanical. Aside from looking great from the hairline down, he was barely adequate.

Jennifer Beals is a very good actress and tried hard to create something with dance instructor Jamie Goodwin, her former high school love. She and her fiancé played by Campbell Scott were a more credible couple.

Yancy Butler was very smooth, but she looked bruised and unhappy during her non-dancing scenes.

The third couple played by Leslie Caron and Patrick Stewart were lovely, charming and pleasantly predictable. They grounded the movie with their mature romance and skillful dancing. Their wedding at the end of the film was the most satisfying scene. The other dance sequences were good, but not great.


Yancy Butler is incredibly lovely in this film and will surprise you with her dancing abilities. She looks utterly seductive sporting her mid-90's era thigh-high stockings. This film is a "must see" for her fans.


If you like dancing, you'll like this film in general but you might find it a little boring in places.

Patrick Stewart is charming and he has a really good chemistry with Leslie Caron.

It's really nice to see Jennifer Beals again, she's a fine actress and one of the great beauties of Hollywood, though she doesn't flaunt it like so many others. ....


Love this little film, that reminds me somewhat of the original Japanese gem Shall We Dance? (not the overblown Gere/Jlo remake...)

Luckily I found it and taped it [Let It Be Me] when it was showing on a STARZ Promo Weekend, because as far as I know, it's not available on DVD.

I'll watch just about anything with Yancy Butler  in it, and she positively shines in this. She does a dance routine to a disco song that is verrrryyyyyy HOT!!

Loved all the other characters in it, especially the ones played by Patrick Stewart and Leslie Caron (where's she been all these years?). This is one of those films that I take out from time to time and always come away smiling after watching it.

Recommended highly!!!


If you loved Dirty Dancing you'll enjoy this movie; both were written by Eleanor Bergstein.

Heart-warming story about three couples at a dance studio. Perfectly cast. Jamie Goodwin and Yancy Butler make a stunning dance team. Patrick Stewart with an American accent (!) and the ever graceful Leslie Caron. Jennifer Beals, in a surprisingly conservative role, and the dashing Campbell Scott, as the confused groom-to-be. ....

The score is lively, the dance sequences beautiful. It's an uplifting movie! Made me want to go out and take lessons, myself.


.... The problem is that the characters in the love quadrangle are boring and superficial. They seem less than passionate about their dreams -- love or otherwise -- and when they break up and return, their motives are strikingly flimsy and unconvincing. What did they see in each other in the first place that they can so easily drift?

Regardless of the backstory about their lost love, pregnancy, smiling in bed at each other, nothing in their motivation defines distinctive, memorable, or engaging characters. Dialog is trite, lacks freshness and wit.

Actors are fine: Jennifer Beals is appealing, Yancy Butler sexy and smoking. The third, older couple, Patrick Stewart and Leslie Caron, whose lives end happily, have no discernible story to portray.

The writing in the film fails them utterly. Script = C-.


There's not much to this movie, but it's sweet and has a fairly good ending. It was worth watching just to see Patrick Stewart and Leslie Caron dancing. Yancy Butler, from Witchblade on TNT, is a pretty good dancer herself.


Yancy Butler is incredibly lovely in this film and will surprise you with her dancing abilities. She looks utterly seductive sporting her mid-90's era thigh-high stockings. This film is a "must see" for her fans.


Let it be Me is nothing more than a cute romantic film about couples who falls in love during dance lessons. I remember James Goodwin from his Another World days. It's nice to see Leslie Caron again as Patrick Stewart's love interest.

The dancing could have been better though without being corny at times.

Otherwise, it is well worth a watch to see couples fall in love. It's not Dirty Dancing but it's from the writer who created that phenomenon. Let It Be Me is about couples who get together during dance classes.

The cast is first rate with Leslie Caron, Patrick Stewart, Jennifer Beals and Jamie Goodwin.


Enjoyable movie.

I thought they made Jennifer Beals look too old though, and she didn't show much passion through out the movie.

Yancy Butler on the other hand was just awesome. I wish she made more films showing off her sensual side as she did in this one.

Patrick Stewart made the film in my opinion. He puts great energy into any character that he plays.

The film was somewhat predictable you could see the ending coming.

The dancing you could tell looked rehearsed, but since these are professional dancers or teachers you expected more speed and confidence from their moves.

The ending also seemed rushed.

I would have liked to have seen more passion, sexual tension, between the couples. Some jealousies between the couples would have given the movie more depth also.

I am a Yancy Butler fan and that is why I was looking for this movie to come out and it finally did on cable. I hope they make it into a DVD.


I felt that this movie had a lot of heart and must have been a labor of love for Eleanor Bergstein.

The primary actors (Campbell Scott, Jennifer Beals, Yancy Butler, James Goodwin III, Patrick Stewart, and Leslie Caron) were very well selected and played their parts with excellence.

It was a very uplifting movie that I wish was available on tape or DVD. A rare gem.


I just finished this movie and my only comment is "OH! WOW!".

Jennifer Beals is OK as the fiancee, but Yancy Butler as the female dance instructor is pure sexual dynamite! Having watched her in WITCHBLADE, I was not prepared for the pure unadulterated sensuality and raw sexual excitement she launches onto the screen.

I gotta see THIS movie again....if only for Yancy Butler as Corrinne!


Loved Patrick Stewart in this. With Leslie Caron! So romantic!




I like it, I like it!!!  The plot is rather light and predictable, but the DANCING  is just sizzling!!!  I will watch it again and again just to enjoy the dancing and the Drifters [on the soundtrack]!!


Wow, Campbell's chemistry with Yancy is OFF THE CHARTS


Thanks for sharing this movie [on YouTube]. I enjoyed it and love the sound track


That was surprisingly good.  Thanks for sharing [on YouTube] :)


I wish I could buy it on DVD.


I'm so glad to watch this movie on here [YouTube] ... I've seen it many times but watching it here and sharing comments makes it great - jb [Jennifer Beals] and cs [Christopher Scott] make a nice pair..i love jb in this..


Love love love it! JB is so awesome! :D 


She [Jennifer Beals] is really awesome.


OMG thank you sooo much for posting this. I've been wanting to see it for ages! I love JB, she's amazing! They look so cute together in this :)


This dance sequence is awesome! Jennifer is so great in this movie!

Thanks soooo much for posting this [on YouTube]! :)

Oh and omg the flow of that dress she has on, so gorgeous!


Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, for uploading this [onto YouTube]. I looked everywhere to buy this and failed. This dance sequence is the absolute best! So cute and fun, and touching.


This movie is mint, JB is mint! She is admirable, and this movie is one of my favorite Jennifer movies.


Beautiful movie. The dancing was wonderful, and Campbell Scott was at his handsome best as always.


Truly beautiful movie. Campbell Scott is magnificent, a gorgeous man. Jennifer Beals is also fantastic. Very good. Well worth watching. The final dance was really great.


Love this movie. Campbell Scott is absolutely adorable and Jennifer Beals is lovely. And Campbell certainly can dance ... fantastic. I just wish I could buy the DVD.


JB still has that smile, that lights up the room.  I heart JB.  Gorgeous in every sense of the word


I love JB! and WHYYYY haven't she gotten the recognition in Hollywood that she deserves?? She is so talented and sooo beautiful! She's A LOT better and many A-listers in Hollywood now. She's amazing, and I just hope she will do some huge movies again.


Thank you so much for posting that movie [on YouTube].  She [Jennifer Beals] is a good actress and so good in so many different parts she plays.