Dirty Dancing turned out not only to be a great commercial success, but it also made Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey as successful as they hoped they could ever be. Despite its many shortcomings (during its filming), the outcome was also absolutely favorable to actor, Wayne Knight, whose acting career debuted in the film with his character, Stan.
Knight went on to star in movies such as Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, and Basic Instinct. It kicked of a segue of projects that would showcase his talents, and when Steven Spielberg started to work on Jurassic Park, he was the first one to be called out.
No Close Ups
It would have been nice if there were close ups of the famous water lift scene. The audience would drool over imaginations of them closer to the screen, their emotions wafting through. But that just wasn’t possible. Due to the delays of the shoot, pushing into autumn, the weather was just too cold for it to be a pleasurable (or even tolerable) experience.
Jennifer Grey later on described it as “horrifically cold.” A close up shot would have meant for their lips to be visibly trembling, and blue. It would just ruin the lovers’ intimate moment and broken the illusion the audience was under that they were summer lovers.
A Strange Coincidence
Who knows why Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze had such a querulous attitude toward each other right at the very start of their professional relationship—from Red Dawn to Dirty Dancing. Swayze later on said they just couldn’t stand each other, and perhaps he couldn’t put his finger on exactly what made it feel so wrong.
But the two stars did have a past which one can describe as a strange connection. Jennifer is the daughter of Joel Grey, who originated the role of Master of Ceremonies in the musical Cabaret. He is also credited for the Broadway musical, Goodtime Charley, where, lo and behold, Patrick Swayze was part of the ensemble of dancers!
Bad Weather For Filming
The making of Dirty Dancing was very challenging to the actors who had to brave the weather almost every shoot, whether indoors or outside. They were in the middle of a transition, from summer to autumn, and the shift in seasons was at times borderline unbearable.
At one point, the temperature inside (for indoor filming) rose to as high as 120 degrees, and about ten people reportedly passed out in less than half an hour of shooting. And during the lake scene, the swimming was described to be under frigid conditions. The main actors had to strip down, and use summer clothing to dive and withstand the cold water; all while making it look like it was comfortable and refreshing!
Is It A Jewish Film?
American writer Eleanor Bergstein, whose life experiences form part of the character Baby Houseman, comes from a Jewish family. She even described her work as a Jewish movie, “if you know what you’re looking at.” The Houseman family in the story are Jewish, too, and like Bergstein’s family, they loved to spend their summers in Catskill, at the Kellerman Resort.
In reality, the Kellerman Resort is based off Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel, where Eleanor and her family are known habitues. This was located along the “Borscht Belt,” where Jews were known to be always welcome, unlike in other popular destinations around the area.