As ‘Dirty Dancing’ streams for free today, we look back why the movie was 'almost never made'
Anyone remember Frances being smitten with a rebellious dance instructor as her parents oppose that relationship? If you haven't guessed it yet, we're talking about the 1987 summer sleeper classic that starred the handsome Patrick Swayze and graceful Jennifer Grey, 'Dirty Dancing.' Whether it was the romance that stuck with you or the famous dance step that is being emulated to this day, you'll be thrilled to know that, the movie is now is available for you to watch for free, at least for today.
You can tune into the classic with some popcorn and tissues on Friday, April 24, 2020, as Fandango and Lionsgate have blessed fans by putting the film on YouTube. The movie can be streamed for free at 9 pm on Fandango movie-clips and Lionsgate Youtube channels. Not to mention, AFI’s Movie Club also chose 'Dirty Dancing' as its film choice of the day, and you will be able to watch it — like other AFI Movie Club titles — on iTunes, Prime and Freeform.
While the movie may have won hearts all across the world and to this day continues to be hit passed down to the younger generations, the fact is that the movie was almost never made. The film that grossed in about $214 million worldwide with the track, 'I’ve Had The Time Of My Life', winning an Oscar for 'Best Original Song', was initially rejected 43 times. Back in 2012, on the 25th anniversary of the film, East Coast producer for MGM Studios, Linda Gottlieb, recalled how the Johnny Castle was conjured up as a character.
Having had lunch with writer Eleanor Bergstein, she recalled, “I said, ‘Well what’s the story?' And she said, ‘I don’t really have a story, but it should involve Latin dancing…’ So I switched the subject and said, ‘Tell me about yourself.’ She said, ‘I grew up in Brooklyn, my father was a doctor, I was one of those kids who used to go across the tracks to go dirty dancing.’ I said, ‘That’s a million-dollar title! Now we’ll figure out the story.’ We invented Johnny Castle at lunch.”
In a HuffPost US article, Gottlieb revealed that after the rights were reverted to her following the MGM executive that signed the deal being fired, she had pitched the movie to Hollywood only to face rejection 43 times. “What they all said was, ‘It’s small and it’s soft.’ These are all men — just think of sexual organs, they don’t want small and soft, they want big and hard. They said ‘it’s a girls' film, it’s a historical film and it’s about Jews.’ They weren’t wrong logically, but I always saw it as a very sexy movie," she said.
Vestron, a small studio had agreed to push the movie agenda forward but with one condition — the budget was $4.5 million, along with the studio needing convincing that the lead should be changed. Gottlieb said they went to "right-to-work states — Virginia, North Carolina — and used non-union extras" as making a movie on a budget so tight proved to be quite challenging.
As for the leads, 127 people later, Grey and Swayze were chosen. Gottlieb remembered the drama that had come with that, "They wanted a terrible blond bimbo for the part. And I said, ‘It has to have a less than perfect girl in the center. Basically, if that woman gets the handsome guy, then you have created the archetypal fairy tale that gives us all hope.'” While that went smoothly, the casted duo did't seem to get along, with Swayze thinking Grey was a "wimp" — "Patrick was a pro; he would deliver the same thing again and again. She would cry easily, she was emotional and he sort of made fun of her. He was a macho guy," said Gottlieb.
Swayze repeatedly getting injured after insisting on doing his own stunts, the crew having to paint on the leaves of fall (the weather wasn't on their side), lack of money for much-needed wardrobe changes, rushed casting-shifts with that and many other problems, the production was plagued by infighting and we were almost not given this excellent movie to binge watch for all of eternity. Not to mention, the movie managed to be sexy without the use of nudity or crass language. Did you know that the filmmakers had to protest the movie's initial 'R' rating?
Gottlieb said, “I was grateful they didn’t laugh at me when it was released. Now it’s a classic story. At least three generations have seen it," AND COUNTING!