ABC airs remake of “Dirty Dancing” as a musical

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 ABC aired a 3-hour (including commercials) remake by Lionsgate of the 1987 low-budget hit “Dirty Dancing”, originally directed by Emile Ardolino and released by Vestron and Artisan (which Lionsgate bought), the new version by Wayne Blair.  The remake was probably facilitated legally by Lionsgate’s ownership of some of the original materials.

The original low-budget film had been a surprise hit. The new version is set up as a musical, of sorts, with all the popular songs  (like “The Time of My Life”) played, providing some of the lilt of 80s disco music.

The plot is actually rather intricate.  The film is set in 1963 at a resort, the Sheldrake, in the Catskills (the new film was shot largely in North Carolina and Virginia, especially near Blacksburg). “Baby” (Abigail Breslin), son of a doctor (Bruce Greenwood) visits the resort and gradually falls in love with the working class dance instructor Johnny Castle (Cold Prattes).  There are tensions between Johnny and some of the other Ivy League young men at the resort (this is pre-assassination, pre-Vietnam Kennedy era). There are some racial tensions with an African American dancer. And there are a couple of long subplots involving Baby’s borrowing money from her dad for a friend Penny (Nicole Scherzinger) to have an abortion when Colt’s rival Robbie (Shane Harper) knocks Penny up; the abortion is botched (as often happened in those days, when “the abortionist” would be portrayed as a common criminal on the TV show “The D.A.’s Man”).  Later Colt gets falsely accused of petty theft.

The “dirty dancing” style is perhaps more curious in gay discos, where gradual unmasking happens. In the movie, Colt is usually attired with a completely open shirt, with only a little chest hair, rather derivative of  John Travolta in “Staying Alive” (1985).

Author Ryan Field has a gay novel from Riverdale Publishing based on the title.

Patrock Swayze had played Colt in the 1987 film.  Swayze would die after a 20-month battle with pancreatic cancer, a much more resilient survival than for most.   Jack Andraka’s book “Breakthrough” describes had a teen discovered a possible early detection test for pancreatic cancer.

I recall visiting a similar resort in the Adirondacks, at Lake Placid, as a child on a summer trip with my parents, where dinner was announced with a gong.

Name: “Dirty Dancing”
Director, writer:  Wayne Blair
Released:  2017, remake of 1987
Format:  1.85:1  TV
When and how viewed:  ABC Network 2017/5/24
Length:  150 approx
Rating:  PG-13 probably
Companies:  Lionsgate, ABC Studios
Link:  ABC

(Posted: Friday, May 25, 2017 at 3:15 PM EDT)

“Summertime”: filial piety challenges a lesbian relationship in 1971 France


Name: Summertime
Director, writer:  Catherine Corsini
Released:  2016
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Vimeo private screener 2016/11/14
Length 105
Rating NR (but would normally be NC-17; this is a legitimate, professional adult film with major social issues explored)
Companies: Strand, Pyramide (DVD available 2016/11/15)
Link: official


Summertime” (originally “La belle saison” or “The Beautiful Season”, 2015), directed by Catherine Corsini, gives a pretty thorough exposition of family values in France in 1971.

Georges Pompidou is talking about family values on French television as Spanish professor Carol (Cecilel de France) consorts with other radical feminists.  They hear a story about a gay man put into a mental institution for electroshock treatments (this late) but still find the comparison of a pregnant woman to a “car” carrying an unwanted baby more offensive than what can happen to gay men.  Carol meets Delphine (Izia Higelin), a twenty-something from a family farm apparently in Provence (judging from the scenery). They fall in love.

Suddenly, however (at 40 minutes into a 105-minute film) Delphine gets a call from home, as her dad has had a stroke.  She goes home, finds Dad (Jean Henri Compere) comatose, but gradually coming of it.  Delphine has no practical choice, out of filial piety, but to stay and run the family farm, and sacrifice her newfound lesbian passion.  This is about family responsibility that happens for the childless, regardless of their choices.

But Carol goes down to the farm to be with Delphine and resume the relationship. Passions resume, despite the fact that each woman has wannabe male suitors.  Eventually, Mom (Neomie Lvovsky) find out, and the results are not pleasant.  Mom may regard lesbianism as a perversion, but what’s obvious is that she feels she has lost a future lineage.

There is some suspense at a sad scene in a rural train station.  There is an epilogue, six years later, where we learn Carol is even more deeply into feminism and abortion assistance. Is this film “anti-baby?”

This is a lavish-looking, very professionally shot “patently adult” film – again, there is a need for NC-17 material in film to present some issues.

A good comparison is “One True Thing” (1998, Universal) where a college professor goads his yuppie daughter into giving up her own life and returning home to take care of mom dying of cancer.

Wikipedia attribution link for Provence photo by Civodule, CCSA 3.0.

(Posted: Monday, Nov. 14, 2016 at 8:45 PM EST)