Can there be anyone on the planet who has not seen this 1987 hit which launched Patrick Swayze to instant stardom. Written by Eleanor Bergstien and directed by Emile Ardolino, it came from nowhere and became one of the highest grossing films of the year, finding new life on commercial release and endless screenings on TV. However it’s vanished from the airwaves somewhat nowadays and so this is a perfect chance to revisit a timeless classic which actually serves as quite a good epitaph for the tragically deceased Swayze.
Jennifer Grey, theoretically the star puts in a lot of work as Francis Houseman, the young woman who gets swept off her feet quite literally by dance instructor Johnny, while she is at a peace corps camp in the late 60s, the time of free love and violent anti war protest. Francis finds herself lying to her rich father to pay for an abortion, highly illegal at the time for Johnny’s dance partner, then falls for him when she steps into the ill woman’s shoes. Of course, it all starts going horribly downhill for the pair when Francis’ incensed father turns up and is NOT pleased to find out how she has been spending his money…..
While grey is very believable as Francis, really reaching for and conveying the emotions her character is feeling, it’s Swayze who steals the film, bringing a depth and truth to Johnny that sometimes transcends the script. The supporting actors are all excellent, especially Jerry Orbach as the furious father, a Doctor who well knows the dangers of illegal abortions. The film has a few thought provoking observations top make on that sensitive subject and is brave enough to not brush the implications and the resultant mixed emotions under the carpet.
Sure, its cheesy and feel good, too much so for some tastes, but there’s a reason why this movie has endured…it’s great! If nothing else, some of the dancing has to be seen to be believed and full marks to the actors for learning their moves so diligently and plying them with such style. Go and reacquaint yourself with this 80s classic which has somehow managed to stay just a little bit timeless.
Director: Emile Ardolino
Casts: Cynthia Rhodes, Jane Brucker, Lonny Price, Charles ‘Honi’ Coles, Max Cantor, Patrick Swayze, Jerry Orbach, Jack Weston, Neal Jones, Jennifer Grey, Kelly Bishop
Release Date: 21 August 1987