Patrick Swayze had to convince Jennifer Grey to be in this film, because she had disliked him so much while filming Red Dawn (1984).
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Patrick Swayze was offered $6 million to reprise his role as Johnny for a sequel. Swayze wasn't a fan of sequels and turned it down.
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Patrick Swayze insisted on doing his own stunts. During the log scene he kept on falling off the log and injured his knee so badly, he had to have fluid drained from the swelling.
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The dancing that Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey do during the love scene was the same dance that they did for the screentests. It was not originally supposed to be in the film.
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The song "She's Like The Wind" was co-written by Patrick Swayze with Stacy Widelitz and sung by Patrick Swayze.
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Jennifer Grey, at twenty-seven, was eight years older than the character of Baby. During her audition, she had five minutes to prove she could play younger, and that she had the moves for the role.
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While the exteriors and cabin scenes were filmed at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia, the lake scene was filmed at Lake Lure in North Carolina in October. There are no close-ups because the cast members were so cold that their lips were blue.
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Relations between the two main stars varied throughout production. They had already had trouble getting along in their previous project, Red Dawn (1984), and worked things out enough to have an extremely positive screen-test, but that initial cooperation soon faded, and they were soon "facing off" before every scene. There was concern among the production staff that the animosity between the two stars would endanger the filming of the love scenes. To address this, Eleanor Bergstein and Emile Ardolino forced the stars to re-watch their initial screen-tests, the ones with the "breathtaking" chemistry. This had the desired effect, and Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey were able to return to the film with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
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Johnny Castle was originally an Italian. This was changed when Patrick Swayze was cast.
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In an interview with AFI, Swayze explained why he thought Dirty Dancing endured for so long. "It's got so much heart, to me," he said. "It's not about the sensuality; it's really about people trying to find themselves, this young dance instructor feeling like he's nothing but a product, and this young girl trying to find out who she is in a society of restrictions when she has such an amazing take on things."
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Jennifer Grey was about to embark on a publicity tour to promote this movie when she and then boyfriend Matthew Broderick were involved in a head-on collision in their rental car in Ireland, in which a mother and daughter died, in August 1987.
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The lake at the hotel at Mountain Lake lodge dried in 2002 and has been dry ever since. If you visit the lake today you will see a stone in memory of Patrick Swayze.
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The Pembroke, Virginia resort where many of the Kellerman's scenes were filmed hosts three Dirty Dancing-themed weekends a year. Dinners, a sock hop, a screening of the movie, a watermelon toss, group dance lessons, and a Dirty Dancing scavenger hunt are just some of the many activities on the agenda.
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The crew had to make up Cynthia Rhodes to look worse during the agony scene, because she was too beautiful without make-up to look convincing.
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Patrick Swayze wore a girdle to look thinner and younger.
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Director Emile Ardolino only wanted experienced dancers in the film, to avoid the problems of using dance doubles, which occurred in Flashdance (1983).
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According to a December 2008 interview with screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein, the characters of Baby and Johnny were both influenced by Bergstein's own biography. Like "Baby" Houseman, Bergstein came from a liberal Jewish family who visited Catskills resorts during the 1960s. Her father was a doctor, she was nicknamed "Baby" until she was 22 years old, and her real first name was the same as a famous woman with strong ties to the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration (Eleanor Roosevelt). Like Johnny Castle, Bergstein was a skilled "dirty dancer" who learned at house parties, and later became an Arthur Murray instructor.
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Baby tells Johnny that her real name is "Frances, after the first woman in the cabinet." Frances C. Perkins was the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1947. She was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his first term, and served throughout all four of his terms and two years into Harry Truman's Presidency.
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The "Cry to Me" love scene has been voted one of the sexiest movie moments in cinematic history.
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Rehearsals quickly turned into disco parties involving nearly every cast member, even non-dancers such as Jack Weston. The dancing and drinking went on almost non-stop and, immersed in the environment, the lead actors and actresses began identifying with their characters. Eleanor Bergstein built upon this, encouraging the actors and actresses to improvise in their scenes. She also built the sexual tension by saying that no matter how intimate or "grinding" the dance steps, that none of the dancers were to have any other kind of physical contact with each other for the next six months.
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Throughout the film, Johnny and Baby always wear contrasting colors: Baby wears very light colors, and Johnny wears black or something very dark.
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The song "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" was voted #86 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Songs.
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The part of Baby's mother was originally given to Lynne Lipton, who is briefly visible in the beginning, when the Houseman family first pulls into Kellerman's (she is in the front seat for a few seconds; her blonde hair is the only indication), but she became ill during the first week of shooting and was replaced by Kelly Bishop, who had already been cast to play Vivian Pressman, the highly sexed resort guest. Bishop moved into the role of Mrs. Houseman, and the film's assistant choreographer Miranda Garrison took on the role of Vivian.
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The love scene between Johnny and Baby during the "Cry to Me" sequence that was cut from the film is featured on the 20th anniversary DVD release in 2007.
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In 1975, Jennifer Grey's father, Joel Grey, starred in a very short-lived Broadway musical, Goodtime Charley, about the son of Charlemagne. One of the ensemble dancers, according to the Playbill program for that show, was Patrick Swayze.
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When Johnny (Patrick Swayze ) is dancing with Penny (Cynthia Rhodes), she is wearing a custom-made red dress that crisscrossed in the back. Swayze kept getting his fingers stuck.
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In a 2006 interview with The Guardian, Eleanor Bergstein talked about the movie's popularity with people in the former Eastern Bloc. "And in Russia, it's policy in the battered women's shelters, when a woman comes in for help. First, they wash and dress her wounds, then they give her soup. Then they sit her down and show her Dirty Dancing. When the Berlin Wall came down, there were all these pictures of kids wearing Dirty Dancing t-shirts; they were saying, 'We want to have what they have in the West! We want Dirty Dancing!'"
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The book that Robbie tries to lend to Baby as an explanation for his refusal to help Penny is "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand. Rand was the creator of a philosophy called Objectivism, which holds (amongst other beliefs) that it is more important for a person to be concerned with his or her own well-being rather than to try to help others. Some of her adherents (including, apparently, Robbie) interpret her books as justification for selfish and self-serving behavior, and the disavowal of responsibility to others.
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Bill Medley told Songfacts that when he was hired to sing for the film, he thought it sounded like a bad porno.
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The film was re-released in 1997 solely due to a petition led by late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien, in which he asked viewers to send letters calling for the film's re-release. When exhibitors finally agreed, O'Brien joked that he actually didn't like the movie all that much.
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First film to sell a million copies on home video.
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At the beginning of the film, it is said that Baby will attend Mount Holyoke College in the fall. Her namesake, Frances Perkins, was a graduate of Mount Holyoke, Class of 1902.
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Eleanor Bergstein made a cameo in the film. In the scene when Baby goes to find Johnny after seeing Penny crying in the kitchen, she is the woman in the white dress seen Waltzing with Johnny, before Billy interrupts.
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At thirty-five years old, Patrick Swayze was older than the role of Johnny by ten years, and was only eight years younger than Kelly Bishop (Baby's mother).
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On a television talk show segment featuring brothers of famous actors, Patrick Swayze's brother Don said that Patrick was a much better dancer than shown in the film. Since the character of Johnny Castle wasn't a professional, Patrick's having to tone down his moves was understandable.
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The tight schedule allowed only two weeks for rehearsal and forty-four days for filming, as it was already the tail end of summer.
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Jane Brucker, who played Baby's older sister Lisa, co-wrote the song "Hula Hana", but she didn't receive credit for writing the song until March 18, 2002.
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The film's soundtrack started an oldies music revival, and demand for the album caught RCA Records by surprise. According to Franke Previte, before a single had even been released, there were a million albums on back-order. The Dirty Dancing album spent eighteen weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 album sales chart, and went platinum eleven times, selling more than thirty-two million copies worldwide. It spawned a follow-up multi-platinum album in February 1988, titled "More Dirty Dancing".
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A scene which Johnny is dancing with Baby in her bra, which was cut from the theatrical version, is in the deleted scenes on the special features on the 25th Anniversary Edition DVD.
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Kelly Bishop is only fourteen and sixteen years older, respectively, than Jane Brucker and Jennifer Grey, who played her daughters.
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Cynthia Rhodes (Penny Johnson) was the first to be cast.
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Filming was plagued by the weather, which ranged from pouring rain to sweltering heat. The outside temperature rose to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius), and with all the additional camera and lighting equipment needed for filming, the temperature inside could be as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). According to choreographer Kenny Ortega, on one day, ten people passed out within twenty-five minutes of shooting. The elderly Paula Trueman collapsed and was taken to the local emergency room to be treated for dehydration. The uncooperative weather then took a different turn, plunging from oppressive heat to down near 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius), causing frigid conditions for the famous swimming scene in October. The crew wore warm coats, gloves, and boots. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey stripped down to light summer clothing, to repeatedly dive into the cold water. Despite her character's enjoyment, Grey later described the water as "horrifically" cold, and she might not have gone into the lake, except that she was "young and hungry".
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Val Kilmer was initially offered the lead, but declined.
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In Penny's bedroom, there is a photo of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers tucked into her mirror. It shows the dancing lesson scene from Swing Time (1936), in which Ginger Rogers plays a dance instructor named Penny. (Also, Fred Astaire's character "Lucky" in that movie is actually named John.)
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The original version of the "Cry to Me" love scene featured Jennifer Grey nude. But her appearing nude in the film did not do well in test screenings, and it was taken out of the film, and it does not feature in the deleted scenes in the 2007 20th anniversary DVD, and no footage can be found.
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In the last scene, Baby's mother, Marjorie Houseman (Kelly Bishop), says of Baby's dancing, "I think she gets it from me." This is a two-fold "in-joke". First of all, Jerry Orbach and Kelly Bishop (Baby's parents) appeared together on Broadway in 1968 in the original cast of 'Promises, Promises', for which Orbach won the Tony Award. In 1976, Orbach was again nominated for a Tony for originating the role of Billy Flynn in 'Chicago'. He did not win this time but Kelly Bishop did win the Tony that year for originating the role of Sheila in 'A Chorus Line'.
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Patrick Swayze and Cynthia Rhodes previously worked together in the music video for Toto's song "Rosanna".
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During filming, members of the cast and crew visited Sharlow's restaurant in nearby Christiansburg, Virginia. The personal tensions between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze were evident. Many of the cast were in very high spirits, and were noisy, but well-received patrons of the establishment. Jennifer Grey was a very subdued guest, who apologized many times for the more colorful behaviors of her co-stars.
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When Vestron Pictures was looking for a corporate sponsor to help promote the film, Proctor & Gamble, manufacturers of Clearsil skin care and acne ointment, almost signed on feeling that it could be a vehicle to reach a teen target audience. The company backed out, however, due to their dislike of the Penny abortion subplot.
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Toward the end of the movie, Lisa, Mr. Kellerman, and several others sing an anthem to the Kellerman's resort ("Join hands and hearts and voices/Voices, hearts and hands...") in the talent show. This song's lyrics were written for the movie, but the tune is a traditional one (known variously as "Amici" or "Annie Lisle") from the early 1800s that has been used as the basis for the alma maters for many well-known American universities, including West Texas A&M University, Cornell University, The University of Alabama, The University of Kansas, The College of William and Mary, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Although religion is never mentioned outright in the movie, and many non-Jewish viewers never perceive this aspect of the plot, the Houseman family and many other main characters are supposed to be Jewish. The resort on which "Kellerman's" was based, Grossinger's Hotel (along with most of the other Catskills resorts in the so-called "Borscht Belt") was opened in the early twentieth century to cater mostly to Jewish vacationers; this was because at the time, it was very common for other hotels and resorts to reject Jewish customers. Max Kellerman uses the Yiddish terms for "grandmother" and "grandfather" ("bubbie" and "zaydee") when reminiscing about his grandparents "serving the first pasteurized milk to the boarders." When this movie was released, many reviewers mentioned the family's Judaism as a matter of course; for example, Vincent Canby's New York Times review called Baby's background "conventionally liberal [and] Jewish," and Roger Ebert's print review said that "the family's opposition to a Gentile boyfriend of low social status" was "obviously the main point of the plot." In a 2011 interview, screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein characterized it as a Jewish movie "if you know what you're looking at."
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Voted number two "Must See Movie" of all time by listeners of Capital FM in London, England.
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The film gave Wayne Knight his first big movie role. Before starring as Stan, the resort's social director, Knight had small roles in a few television movies, including an uncredited role in the nuclear holocaust drama The Day After (1983). This movie showcased his talents, which in 1992, led him to be cast as Newman on Seinfeld (1989).
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The song "She's Like The Wind", originally written for Grandview, U.S.A. (1984), was used in this movie instead.
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Cynthia Rhodes asked Eleanor Bergstein to write the scene where Penny tells Baby that she doesn't sleep around. It was written the night before it was filmed, and David Chapman built the locker room for it on such short notice that it was a surprise to Eleanor Bergstein.
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When Baby mentions "monks burning themselves in protest" at the beginning of the film she is referring to the day a Buddhist monk (Thích Quang Ducset) set himself on fire in Saigon in a ritual suicide to protest government anti-Buddhist policies. Therefore we can assume the action starts after June 11, 1963, when this occurred.
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Producers could only afford 14 days of shooting in the Catskills so they moved to a boys camp in North Carolina with pavilion where they could film the dance sequences.
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Paula Trueman (Mrs. Shumacher) was a serious dancer earlier in her career before breaking into "serious acting." In fact in one of her scenes she mentions taking dancing classes in her younger years.
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In 1997, the film was re-released in American cinemas to celebrate the film's 10th anniversary.
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Billy Zane was considered for the lead role, but he didn't dance well.
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Patrick Swayze and Jerry Orbach died of cancer. Orbach died of prostate cancer on December 28, 2004, at the age of sixty-nine. Swayze died from pancreatic cancer on September 14, 2009, at the age of fifty-seven.
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Eleanor Bergstein originally wanted "Cousin Brucie" Morrow to portray the social director, but then later asked him to play the part of the magician.
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This was the top rental video of 1988.
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When the film's song "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" took home the Oscar for Best Original Song, it marked the third time Jennifer Warnes sang the hit song receiving this honor. The other two were: "It Goes Like It Goes" from Norma Rae and "Up where We Belong" from An Officer and a Gentleman.
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The producers of It's My Turn (1980) cut an erotic dance sequence out of it. This inspired that movie's screenwriter, Eleanor Bergstein, to write the screenplay for this movie.
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Numerous photos are seen in Penny's bedroom, and one on her nightstand appears to be a promo shot of Penny and Johnny (seen when Dr. Houseman comes in after her abortion), while another on her wall (seen behind Baby when she visits her the morning after her abortion) definitely depicts Johnny, but he could be shown with either Penny or Baby.
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The cast stayed in the same hotel at Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, Virginia, and at the 1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa in Lake Lure, North Carolina.
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According to the book "The Catskills Alive" by Francine Silverman, Jackie Horner was the prototype for the Penny Johnson character.
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Delays in the shooting schedule pushed filming into the autumn, which required the set decorators to spray-paint the autumn leaves green.
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Johnny was born in 1938.
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Baby was born in 1946.
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In a 2010 interview with Jezebel's Irin Carmon, Eleanor Bergstein says that the moment Johnny first falls in love with Baby during their performance at the Sheldrake Hotel, when she botches the lift and instead improvises a dance step with her thumbs that Bergstein calls the "hitchhiker move."
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On an episode of American Pickers (2010), Mike and Frank visited one of the locations where filming took place.
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In contrast to his screen image, Patrick Swayze was an alcoholic who smoked 40-60 cigarettes a day.
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The scenes at Kellerman's were shot at the Mountain Lake Hotel in Virginia. The crew could only film during the hotel's off-season in autumn, even though the film was set in summer. In several scenes, autumn leaves had to be painted green, scenes had to be reframed because steam from the hot lights kept drifting into the shots, and the cast, who did all their scenes in light summer clothes, wore coats between takes. In their scene in the lake, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey are shown only from a distance because close-ups revealed them covered in goosebumps and shaking from the ice-cold water.
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First choice for the role of Baby was Mindy Cohn, but she was unavailable.
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Cynthia Rhodes, who plays Johnny Castle's first dance partner Penny, previously played Tina Tech, one of the dancers at the Mawby Bar in Flashdance (1983). Both films' leads are named Jennifer. In both movies the main female protagonist learns to conquer her own fear.
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The board at Vestron Pictures, which had previously only produced works straight to video, had final say on casting for the film. Their first choice for Baby was Pia Zadora.
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A running gag through out the movie is Stan making bad jokes.
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Even though the movie is set in 1963 and several of the dance songs are from that period, the song "I've Had the Time of My Life" was written in 1987.
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The wooden floors from the Boy Scout camp gymnasium, where the interior dance scenes were filmed, are now located at the Esmerelda Inn in Chimney Rock, North Carolina.
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Critic duo Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were mixed about the movie. Gene Siskel gave the film a "marginal Thumbs Up" and stated that he liked Jennifer Grey's acting and the development of her character. Roger Ebert gave it a "Thumbs Down" due to it's "idiot plot", calling it a "tired and relentlessly predictable story of love between kids from different backgrounds."
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A reboot was out in 2017,but got bad ratings with some calling it a disgrace to the 1987 film.
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The very famous scene where Johnny and Baby are practicing their dancing and they are crawling towards each other on the floor wasn't intended to be part of the film; they were just messing around and were warming up to do the real scene, but director Emile Ardolino liked it so much, he kept it in the film.
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Director Emile Ardolino encouraged the actors and actresses to improvise, and often kept the cameras rolling, even if actors and actresses went "off script". One example of this was the scene where Jennifer Grey was to stand in front of Patrick Swayze with her back to him and put her arm up behind his head while he trailed his fingers down her arm (similar to the pose seen in the movie poster). Though it was written as a serious and tender moment, Grey was exhausted, found the move ticklish, and could not stop giggling each time Swayze tried it, no matter how many takes Ardolino asked for. Swayze was impatient to finish the scene, and found Grey's behavior annoying. However, the producers decided the scene worked as it was and put it into the film, complete with Grey's giggling and Swayze's annoyed expression. It became one of the most famous scenes in the movie, turning out, as choreographer Kenny Ortega put it, "as one of the most delicate and honest moments in the film."
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The movie's line "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." was voted as the #98 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
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It is never explicitly stated, but Penny needs Baby's money for an illegal abortion. The doctor is described as having only "a dirty knife and a folding table". In 1963, when this movie is set, abortion was still illegal in the U.S. It remained illegal in New York State (where this movie is set) until 1970 and in most other places in the United States until the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973.
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Patrick Swayze actually hated the line 'Nobody puts Baby in a corner,' and had to muster all his strength to get it out.
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The "Cry to Me" love scene was longer and featured "She's Like The Wind" performed by Patrick Swayze. The scene was cut and replaced by Johnny and Baby making love. The longer version of the "Cry to Me" love scene was featured in the deleted scenes on the 2007 20th Anniversary Special Edition DVD release.
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Dr. Ruth Westheimer was asked to play the role of Mrs. Schumacher opposite Joel Grey as her husband, but turned it down when she realized the character was a thief.
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The shooting wrapped on October 27, 1986, both on time and on budget. No one on the team, however, liked the rough cut that was put together, and Vestron executives were convinced the film was going to be a flop. Thirty-nine percent of people who viewed the film did not realize abortion was the topic of the subplot. In May 1987, the film was screened for producer Aaron Russo. According to Vestron executive Mitchell Cannold, Russo's reaction at the end was to say simply, "Burn the negative, and collect the insurance."
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