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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Marjorie was supposed to golf better than Jake

An article titled "Dirty Dancing": Where Kellerman's Came to Life, written by Neil Genzlinger, a television and film critic for The New York Times, was published in the newspaper on May 28, 2017. The well-written, informative article describes the two filming locations -- at Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia and at Lake Lure in North Carolina.

Genzlinger proves that the movie's practice-lift scene was filmed at Mountain Lake Lodge.
Ms. [screenwriter Eleanor] Bergstein said she was quite sure the lake lift was shot at the Virginia location. But 30-year-old memories can be squishy, so she had me seek confirmation from David Chapman, the production designer for the film. And after some digging he came up with what he said was definitive proof that Ms. Bergstein’s recollection was correct: a sketch from his collection of story boards for the movie, labeled “Baby Does Lift in Water.” A doodle on the left side of that drawing indicates the pier at the Virginia lake, and a tiny symbol shows the placement of the camera, aimed at the spot where the actors stood on wooden platforms that had been sunk into the water and were held down with concrete blocks.

Sorry, North Carolina. The defining scene was shot at Mountain Lake in Virginia. But you get a consolation prize: Anyone who wants to re-create that scene on hallowed ground associated with the movie, as many fans do, is going to have to go to Lake Lure. Because Mountain Lake has gone missing.

In the movie, when you see “Kellerman’s,” you see a lovely lake in front of the lodge, vacationers enjoying the water. Now, though, the lodge overlooks a dry lake bed. Mountain Lake is a rare geological specimen that, a video on the lodge’s website explains, drains itself once in a long while as a sort of purifying exercise, eventually refilling naturally. It went dry in 2008. Now experts are trying to nudge it gently back to life, but when I was there in early April  [2017] it was about as empty as a lake can be.
Genzlinger informs his readers that the movie's gazebo is at Mountain Lake Lodge and was built for the movie by some engineering students from Virginia Tech University. Many such interesting details are in the article.


The article includes the following photographs (click to enlarge):

Mountain Lake in 1986 and in 2017
The steps in 1986 and in 2017

The most interesting part of the article for me was Genzlinger's remarks about the movie's putting green.
One location from the Lake Lure filming that still exists is the green of the 16th hole at the Bald Mountain Golf Course, part of the Rumbling Bald Resort. In the movie, the green is made to look like a practice green and Baby interrupts her parents, Jake and Marjorie (played by Jerry Orbach and Kelly Bishop), as they’re working on their short games to hold a pivotal conversation with her father.

Ms. Bergstein said she had intended that scene to be a homage to her mother, who was an expert golfer — Marjorie was supposed to be giving Jake advice. But, she said, Mr. Orbach surprised himself by sinking a couple of decent putts on camera and was so pleased about it that she wanted to leave that footage in. And so, in the movie, it is Jake who is the good golfer, Marjorie who needs coaching. Ms. Bergstein said she has come to regret not retaining the original hat tip to her mother’s golfing prowess.

“If I had known this many people would see it,” she said, “I would have left it in.”
Marjorie being the incompetent golfer reinforced the impression in me that she was a rather incompetent person in general.

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