Movie Mom

Dirty Dancing (1987) is an iconic and enormously influential film, now scheduled for a remake, directed by the choreographer of the original film.  (We will not discuss the awful sequel, though you should listen to “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me’s” Peter Sagel tell his story about it how he accidentally sort of wrote it.)  Jezebel called “Dirty Dancing” the greatest movie of all time.  The Jewish publication The Tablet has a piece by Stephanie Butnick called “Is Dirty Dancing the Most Jewish Film Ever?

She is speaking of cultural Judaism rather than theological or spiritual Judaism.  Butnick says:

A week ago, I told Eleanor Bergstein, the writer and co-producer of the incredibly popular film Dirty Dancing, that when I first saw the film years ago, I hadn’t realized how heavily influenced it was by Jewish culture. She beamed, as she had the entire evening, and assured me it was a seriously Jewish movie. So Jewish, in fact, that none of the characters ever need to explicitly mention their Jewishness—they’re spending the summer at Kellerman’s resort in the Catskills, after all, and, Bergstein pointed out proudly, milk and meat are never served in the same scene. It’s a Jewish film, she explained, “if you know what you’re looking at.”

Calling Dirty Dancing “a very American film,” Bergstein described it as the story of a young girl who took her life in her hands and ran with it, no matter what it cost her. (As Carmon helpfully contextualized long before the screening, “The daughter of the first generation of American Jews to read widespread upper-middle class prosperity, if not elite cultural acceptance, she is swathed in a pre-Kennedy assassination liberalism.”)


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