Dirty Dancing: 15th Anniversary Edition (1987)

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Released 14-Dec-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Eleanor Bergstein (Writer/Co-producer)
Featurette-Behind the scenes
Featurette
Music Video-Time Of My Life
Music Video-Hungry Eyes
Music Video-She's Like The Wind
Featurette-Reliving The 60s
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Behind-The-Scenes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Production Notes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 96:07 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:33) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Emile Ardolino
Studio
Distributor
Vestron Pictures
Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Patrick Swayze
Jennifer Grey
Jerry Orbach
Cynthia Rhodes
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music John Morris


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, at start of credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Loosely based on the experiences of writer and co-producer Eleanor Bergstein, Dirty Dancing was the feel good sleeper hit of 1987, which has become something of a cult classic for female audiences. The film is set in 1963 at an exclusive resort in the Catskills (although actually shot in North Carolina and Virginia due to budget constraints). The opening voiceover establishes this as being a few months before the Kennedy assassination, a deliberate choice by the filmmakers to emphasize that this was a period of relative innocence. The film is a mixture of feel good fun and whimsical reminiscence of a bygone time.

    Francis “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) is an idealistic 17 year old with dreams of making the world a better place by joining the Peace Corps. As the film opens Baby is on the way to an upmarket resort owned by Max Kellerman (Jack Weston), a friend of her doctor father, with her sister (Jane Brucker) and parents (Jerry Orbach and Kelly Bishop). Whilst roaming around the resort Baby encounters, at a distance, the resort's dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) who is employed to teach the resort's guests a few traditional dance steps.

    Baby soon discovers, however, that the real fun happens after dark in the staff quarters where the dancing is much more risqué than the respectable dancing at the guest’s parties. As one employee remarks, “can you imagine dancing like this on the main floor, home of the family foxtrot? Max would close the place down first!” Baby convinces Johnny to show her some of the dirty dancing moves she sees at the staff party. When Johnny’s dance partner Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) finds herself in a predicament and unable to perform their regular after hours gig, Baby volunteers to learn the dance moves and take her place. While she is a little awkward at first she soon masters some of the moves and finds herself spending a lot more time with Johnny.

    The acting performances in the film are all very good and the onscreen chemistry between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze is wonderful. The late veteran actor Jerry Orbach is also excellent as Baby’s conservative father who ultimately loves his family. Most of the other actors, however, have very little to work with and many of the supporting characters fall into one stereotype or another. The storyline also feel a bit clichéd and flimsy at times. We have the rich girl who falls for the misunderstood boy from the wrong side of the tracks and her family doesn’t approve. They want to set her up with the respectable rich boy who turns out to be a jerk. I think you get the picture.

    Many aspects of this film anchor it firmly in the 1980s. The most obvious one is the use of pop songs written for the film. While these may be fine in their own right, they often seem out of place in a film set in 1963. Hairstyles and clothing also have obvious 1980s influences. This is a technique often used by filmmakers to give period films a more contemporary feel but subsequently it can date the film somewhat later on and that is certainly the case with Dirty Dancing.

    Overall, however Dirty Dancing is a fun and enjoyable film. The use of upbeat pop songs from the era and exuberant dance numbers make this a very entertaining film indeed. This is an unashamedly feel good film that falls very much in the chick flick genre. Ignore the fact the storyline is clichéd and most of the characters are fairly one dimensional stereotypes and you are sure to have a pleasing viewing experience.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is the second release of Dirty Dancing in Region 4. The previous release was a letterboxed 4x3 transfer and was not well reviewed in terms of quality. Not only is this new transfer 16x9 enhanced, it’s also very good.

    The image is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 which is close to the theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The print used appears to be slightly affected by dirt, taking the form of small black specks throughout the film, although I did not find them too distracting. The opening scenes were very grainy but it soon settled down and the light film grain throughout gave the image a nice film like quality.

    Image sharpness was a little variable but overall it was quite good, with the same being true for image detail. Shadow detail was also very good. The image is free of low level noise.

    Overall colours were quite good although they did seem a little muted at times. Skins tones were generally accurate although I did notice an occasional tendency for them to have a slightly orangey hue to them.

    The transfer is free of MPEG and compression artefacts. The only thing I noticed in a few shots was some very minor edge enhancement.

    There are no subtitles on this disc which is a little disappointing.

    The film is presented on a dual layered disc with RSDL encoding. The layer change occurs at 66:33 which is a cut between scenes and is nicely placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The previous DVD provided the English soundtrack as a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 348 Kb/s. This newer edition provides two English soundtracks (plus a commentary). They are a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and a DTS soundtrack encoded at 768 Kb/s. They are both terrific soundtracks. I listened to the DTS soundtrack in its entirety and sampled the Dolby Digital soundtrack. I felt that the DTS soundtrack was slightly superior overall. It exhibited a slightly improved soundstage compared to the Dolby Digital and the bass response was also improved.

    Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand with no noticeable audio sync issues.

    The music in the film is made up of a combination of pop songs from the 1950s and 60s as well as pop songs from the 1980s that were written for the film. The pop songs from the era work quite well. The pop songs from the 80s, while often good songs in their own right, sometimes seemed a little out of place in a film set in 1963.

    The surround channels were used quite effectively to add ambience and atmosphere throughout. They were active throughout but never drew any undue attention to themselves which is exactly the way it should be for a film like this.

    The subwoofer was used most prominently for some of the 1980s pop songs in the film but was also used to nicely underpin other parts of the soundtrack such as some rain storms.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This 15th Anniversary Edition carries over all the extras of the previous special edition with the exception of the Live in Concert feature. From what I have read about this it seems like a minor loss. With the exception of the commentary this is all EPK (electronic press kit) style material made for the original release or the film. Given that this billed as a 15th Anniversary Edition it is a little disappointing that no kind of retrospective interviews or featurettes were put together for this release.

Menu

    The menus for this DVD feature short clips and music from the film. All menus and extras are presented at the 4x3 aspect ratio.

Commentary – Eleanor Bergstein (Writer/Co-producer)

    The packaging indicates that this is a commentary by the film's director but it is in fact actually by Eleanor Bergstein, the film's writer and co-producer. Bergstein provides a very interesting and informative audio commentary. She covers the origins of the story and talks about its autobiographical elements as well as providing interesting anecdotes and discussion about the shooting of the film. One minor issue with the commentary is that the soundtrack is mixed a bit too loudly and occasionally the songs drown out Bergstein’s comments.

Reliving the Sixties (2:04)

    This is a brief EPK (electronic press kit) type featurette comparing the music of the sixties to the music of the eighties. Oddly the music consultant for the film insists that the youth of the eighties claimed to have invented the music of the fifties and sixties. Very odd! I was a teenage in the eighties and I can’t ever recall taking credit for Elvis Presley or the Beatles.

Behind the Scenes (5:16)

    This is simply behind the scenes footage of the shooting of the final scene from the movie.

Featurette (6:42)

    More EPK type material. This features members of the cast and crew gushing about the film which is interspersed with clips from the film.

Music Videos

    These are music videos for the pop songs written for the film. The image quality of these is abysmal.

Theatrical Trailer (2:01)

Cast and Crew

    These are mainly text based biographies of the cast and crew. If you hunt through them however you will find a few short Q&A videos toward the end of some of the profiles. It’s a pity these weren’t put in amongst the main bonus features and I’m sure many viewers would not normally find these. Had I not been reviewing this and therefore been exploring every nook and cranny of the DVD I would have probably missed them.

Production Notes

    A series of text based screens with information about the origins and the film and bit about the shooting of the film. There is some interesting information here and it’s worth reading.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Region 1 now has a 2-disc “Ultimate Edition” of the film. Interestingly the so-called featurettes on our R4 disc are included as hidden “Easter eggs” on the R1.

The R1 Ultimate Edition Misses out on:

The R4 15th Anniversary Edition misses out on:

    Clearly the R1 Ultimate Edition is the version of choice for fans of the film.

Summary

    Dirty Dancing is a fun and enjoyable film that uses a mix of upbeat pop songs from the era and exuberant dance numbers to make this a very entertaining film indeed.

    The video transfer is very good and the audio mixes, in both Dolby Digital and DTS, are both well done.

    With the exception of the audio commentary, the extras amount to little more than EPK (electronic press kit) material which is very disappointing given the features on the equivalent Region 1 release.

    Compared to the previous Collectors Edition release this new release gets a superior 16x9 transfer with a higher bit rate Dolby Digital soundtrack as well as a new DTS soundtrack. It loses a Live in Concert featurette. Overall I would definitely prefer this release to the previous Collectors Edition. At the time of writing it is widely available for less than $10 which makes it a worthy upgrade for fans of the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Gauntlett (read my bio if you're bored.)
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-696AV-s, SACD & DVD-A, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE900E HD LCD Projector onto 90" 16x9 Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderLogitech 5500 THX. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationLogitech 5500 THX
SpeakersLogitech 5500 THX

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Do not buy the BLU RAY version. -