In the summer of 1963, 17 year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) is vacationing with her affluent family at Kellerman’s, a resort in the Catskill Mountains. Baby is the younger of two daughters, and plans to attend Mount Holyoke College to study economics in underdeveloped countries and then enter the Peace Corps. Her father, Jake (Jerry Orbach), is the doctor and friend of Max Kellerman (Jack Weston), the resort proprietor. Baby is befriended by Max’s grandson Neil (Lonny Price).
Baby develops a crush on the resort’s dance instructor, Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). Johnny is the leader of the resort’s working-class entertainment staff. Baby encounters Johnny’s cousin Billy on a walk through the resort grounds, and helps him carry watermelons to the staff quarters. The staff hold secret after-hours parties in their quarters, and Baby is surprised by the “dirty dancing” they engage in. Intrigued, Baby receives a brief, impromptu dance lesson from Johnny.
After Baby discovers that Johnny’s dance partner, Penny Johnson (Cynthia Rhodes), is pregnant by Robbie Gould (Max Cantor), a womanizing waiter who is also dating and cheating on Baby’s older sister, Lisa (Jane Brucker) and several other female guests, she borrows money from her father to pay for an illegal abortion for Penny. Jake agrees to give the money to Baby even though she says she can’t tell him what it’s for.
Penny eventually accepts the money, but says there is another issue. Johnny and Penny perform a weekly dance at the Sheldrake, another nearby resort. Penny will miss her performance if she goes for the abortion, and they will forfeit their salary for the season. Billy suggests that Baby fill in for her. Johnny scoffs at this, which overcomes Baby’s initial resistance. Billy and Penny insist that Johnny can teach anyone to dance. Johnny begins to teach Baby the Mambo, and the two spend several awkward practice sessions together. Baby gradually begins to improve, and a romantic attraction grows between them.
Billy takes Penny to a traveling abortionist while Baby and Johnny perform at the Sheldrake Hotel. Their performance is mostly successful, although Baby is too nervous to accomplish the dance’s climactic lift. Johnny and Baby return to Kellerman’s and find Penny in agony. Billy explains that the “doctor” turned out to be a back-alley hack who caused severe damage to Penny.
Baby brings her father to help Penny, but when Johnny takes responsibility for Penny, Jake mistakenly assumes Johnny is the father. Jake treats Penny, but is angry that Baby used his money to pay for the procedure, and forbids Baby to associate with Johnny or his friends. Baby goes to Johnny to apologize for her father’s behavior. They dance, and afterwards have sex.
Jake tells his family they’ll be leaving early over breakfast. Lisa protests, because she wants to sing at the end-of-season talent show. Jake gives in, and Baby continues to see Johnny despite her father’s warning. She pulls Johnny off the footpath when her father is nearby, and Johnny is hurt that she won’t stand up for him to her father. Robbie sees them during their argument and makes a derisive remark about “going slumming” with the staff. Johnny assaults him.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Directed by: Emile Ardolino
Starring: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes, Jack Weston, Jane Brucker, Kelly Bishop, Lonny Price, Paula Trueman
Screenplay by: Eleanor Bergstein
Production Design by: David Chapman
Cinematography by: Jeff Jur
Film Editing by: Peter C. Frank
Costume Design by: Hilary Rosenfeld
Set Decoration by: Clay A. Griffith
Art Direction by: Mark Haack, Stephen J. Lineweaver
Music by: John Morris
Distributed by: Vestron Pictures
Release Date: August 21, 1987