DVD review: “Dirty Dancing: The Keepsake Limited Edition” (1987)

“Dirty Dancing: The Keepsake Limited Edition”


Running Time: 96 minutes

Written by: Eleanor Bergstein

Directed by: Emile Ardolino

Featuring: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach and Cynthia Rhodes

Baby: “Me? I’m scared of everything. I’m scared of what I saw, I’m scared of what I did, of who I am, and most of all I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you.”

Critical Commentary

“Dirty Dancing” is a 1987 romantic drama film directed by Emile Ardolino and starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. Set in the summer of 1963, the movie tells the story of Frances “Baby” Houseman, a young woman on vacation with her family at a resort in the Catskill Mountains. She becomes infatuated with Johnny Castle, a charismatic dance instructor, and the two form a forbidden relationship as they rehearse for a dance competition.

Overall, Dirty Dancing is a beloved classic that has stood the test of time. Here’s a breakdown of its key elements:

  1. Story and Characters: The film’s storyline explores themes of romance, self-discovery, and social class divisions. Baby’s transformation from an innocent, sheltered teenager to a confident young woman is central to the narrative. The chemistry between Baby and Johnny is palpable, and their relationship is both passionate and tender.
  2. Performances: Patrick Swayze’s portrayal of Johnny Castle is iconic, showcasing his talent as a dancer and actor. Jennifer Grey delivers a convincing performance as Baby, effectively capturing her character’s growth and determination. The supporting cast, including Jerry Orbach and Cynthia Rhodes, adds depth to the story with their performances.
  3. Music and Dancing: One of the highlights of Dirty Dancing is its memorable soundtrack, featuring songs like “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and “Hungry Eyes.” The dance sequences are energetic and visually appealing, capturing the spirit of the 1960s era. The blend of different dance styles, from ballroom to dirty dancing, adds excitement and entertainment value.
  4. Themes and Social Commentary: Dirty Dancing subtly addresses issues of class, gender roles, and sexual liberation. It touches on the societal expectations placed on women during that time period and challenges them through Baby’s rebellion against her family’s traditional values.
  5. Nostalgic Atmosphere: The film effectively transports viewers to the early 1960s, creating a nostalgic atmosphere with its authentic costumes, set designs, and music choices. This attention to detail adds to the overall charm and appeal of the movie.
  6. Choreography: The dance sequences in Dirty Dancing are a standout element of the film. The choreography, overseen by Kenny Ortega, is dynamic and showcases the talent of the actors, particularly Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. The training montage scenes add depth and believability to the characters’ progression as dancers, enhancing the overall authenticity of the film.
  7. Memorable Moments: Dirty Dancing is filled with iconic scenes that have become embedded in popular culture. From the lift during the final dance routine to the intimate moments between Baby and Johnny, these memorable moments have contributed to the film’s lasting impact and ability to resonate with audiences even years after its release.
  8. Emotional Impact: The film successfully evokes a range of emotions throughout its runtime. It explores themes of love, self-discovery, family dynamics, and societal expectations. The climactic dance performance and the final scene are particularly powerful, leaving viewers with a sense of triumph and fulfillment.
  9. Cultural Significance: Dirty Dancing broke barriers with its depiction of a strong, independent female lead and a multiracial romance, which was relatively rare in mainstream cinema at the time. The film’s themes of rebellion and breaking societal norms struck a chord with audiences and continue to be celebrated for their progressive approach.
  10. Enduring Popularity: Dirty Dancing’s popularity has endured through the years, spawning a dedicated fan base and leading to adaptations, a prequel, and a stage musical. Its influence on popular culture is evident, with references and homages appearing in various films, television shows, and music videos.
  11. Criticisms: While Dirty Dancing is widely loved, some critics have raised concerns about certain plot elements and character development. The pacing of the film has been criticized by some, suggesting that certain scenes could have been better developed to enhance the overall narrative flow.
  12. Direction and Cinematography: Emile Ardolino’s direction brings a sense of authenticity and intimacy to the film. The camera work effectively captures the energy and passion of the dance sequences, creating a visually engaging experience. The use of close-ups and wide shots enhances the emotional impact of the performances, allowing viewers to feel connected to the characters and their journey.
  13. Themes of Empowerment: Dirty Dancing can be seen as a coming-of-age story that explores themes of empowerment and personal growth. Baby’s journey from a sheltered young woman to an individual who learns to stand up for herself and fight for what she believes in resonates with audiences. This empowerment is not limited to Baby alone but extends to other characters who challenge societal norms and expectations.
  14. Timeless Soundtrack: The film’s soundtrack is a significant aspect of its appeal. The songs, ranging from nostalgic classics to catchy pop tunes, enhance the storytelling and evoke a sense of nostalgia. The music plays a vital role in setting the mood and capturing the essence of the 1960s era, making it an integral part of the film’s charm.
  15. Cultural Impact: Dirty Dancing’s impact extends beyond the film itself. It has influenced dance culture, popularized the term “dirty dancing,” and inspired people to take up dance lessons. The film’s messages of self-expression, following one’s passions, and breaking free from societal constraints continue to resonate with individuals of all ages, making it a timeless and culturally significant work.
  16. Lasting Legacy: Dirty Dancing’s enduring popularity can be attributed to its ability to resonate with multiple generations. It remains a beloved film that continues to be celebrated and referenced in popular media. Its themes, characters, and iconic moments have stood the test of time, solidifying its place as a classic in the romantic drama genre.
  17. Social Commentary: Dirty Dancing subtly tackles social issues prevalent during the 1960s, such as class divisions and the changing dynamics of gender roles. The film portrays the disparities between the privileged guests and the resort staff, shedding light on the power dynamics and societal expectations. Baby’s decision to defy her family’s expectations and pursue her own desires reflects the changing attitudes of the time.
  18. Authenticity: Dirty Dancing effectively captures the ambiance and spirit of the 1960s. The attention to detail in the set design, costumes, and dialogue creates an immersive experience that transports viewers back to that era. The film successfully recreates the atmosphere of a summer resort, complete with its vibrant energy and the social interactions of the guests.
  19. Timeless Romance: The central romance between Baby and Johnny remains one of the film’s strongest aspects. Their connection transcends societal barriers and demonstrates the power of love and acceptance. Their evolving relationship is portrayed with sincerity and tenderness, making it a compelling and enduring love story.
  20. Emotional Resonance: Dirty Dancing is a film that elicits a range of emotions from its viewers. From the moments of joy and exhilaration during the dance sequences to the poignant scenes of heartbreak and self-discovery, the film takes audiences on an emotional journey. The relatability of the characters and their struggles adds depth to the overall narrative and allows viewers to form a strong emotional connection with the story.
  21. Longevity: Despite being released over three decades ago, Dirty Dancing has retained its popularity and continues to attract new audiences. Its timeless themes, memorable characters, and universal messages of love, freedom, and self-expression make it a film that transcends generations and appeals to a wide range of viewers.

In summary, Dirty Dancing is a film that skilfully combines romance, music, dance, and social commentary to create a captivating and emotionally resonant experience. Its enduring popularity, cultural impact, and ability to evoke nostalgia are a testament to its enduring appeal. While not without its flaws, Dirty Dancing remains a cherished classic that continues to be celebrated and enjoyed by audiences around the world.

Technical Commentary


‘Dirty Dancing’ may not have been afflicted with a dirty transfer, but the effort left a lot to be desired and disappointed the film’s legion of fans. So when Lionsgate announced the Limited Keepsake Edition would feature a newly remastered print, expectations ran high that previous errors would be corrected and this would be the definitive version of a beloved movie. And to my eyes, it is. But before anyone gets too excited, I must emphasize that ‘Dirty Dancing’ was never the belle of the ball visually.


The sound is still clean and well-modulated, with no distortion creeping into the high end and not much subwoofer activity rounding out the low, but there’s not a huge bump up in quality, and that’s largely due to the film itself. ‘Dirty Dancing’ has never been a powerhouse in the audio department, with limited surround presence and so-so fidelity, and the DTS upgrade can’t disguise those inherent deficiencies. Still, dialogue is well prioritized and always easy to understand, and there’s some decent stereo separation across the front channels that helps widen the sound field somewhat.

Special Features

DISC ONE: Dirty Dancing – The Film (1987)

  • Audio commentary with writer/co-producer Eleanor Bergstein
  • Audio commentary with Kenny Ortega, Miranda Garrison, Jeff Jur, Hilary Rosenfeld and David Chapman

DISC TWO: Dirty Dancing – Special Features

  • Establishing Shot with cinematographer Jeff Jur – featurette
  • Happy Birthday, Dirty Dancing – featurette
  • Patrick Swayze: In His Own Words – featurette
  • Eleanor Bergstein: Thoughts On A Lifetime Of Dirty Dancing – featurette
  • Patrick Swayze Uncut – featurette
  • Dirty Dancing: The Phenomenon – featurette
  • The Rhythm of Dancing – featurette
  • Kellerman’s: Reliving the Locations of the Film – featurette
  • Dancing to the Music – featurette
  • Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze – featurette
  • Vintage Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Extended Scenes
  • Alternate Scenes
  • Music Videos – Hungry Eyes, She’s Like The Wind & (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life
  • Outtakes
  • Theatrical Trailer

DISC THREE: Dirty Dancing – Special Features

  • Dirty Dancing: The Concert Tour (1988)
  • Cast & Crew Interviews – Jennifer Grey, Eleanor Bergstein, Miranda Garrison & Kenny Ortega
  • Screen Test Comparisons and Montage
  • Tributes In Memoriam, Patrick Swayze, Emile Ardolino & Jerry Orbach
  • Multi-angle Dance Sequences – The Lift & Everybody Dance

DISC FOUR: Dirty Dancing – The Mini-Series (2017)

DISCS FIVE & SIX: Dirty Dancing – Living the Dream (2006)

DISC SEVEN: Bonus Material


  • 48-page book
  • Hotel Room Key
  • Playing Cards
  • Postcards
  • Dance Cards


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