Monday, 11 July 2011

Forgotten Characters 4.1

Voila, the return of Forgotten Characters.
Who could forget Dirty Dancing? It’s got one of the most ubiquitous movie soundtrack, it beats out Ghost for Patrick Swayze’s most memorable film and it’s ingrained in pop culture in a way most films from its era could only hope for. We can all essentially agree that no one puts Baby in a corner, but Dirty Dancing has got a whole lot more going for it than the two leads. In fact, other than their dancing I find the leads a bit bland. The film’s much more rewarding when I think of it in terms of the peerless soundtrack and the roster of bit supporting players. And, as far as supporting players go in the film none make as big an impression on me as this next woman. The oft-forgotten, but more than functional

Kelly Bishop in Dirty Dancing
as Marjorie Houseman

If you’re a fan of the small screen, you probably know Bishop best as the victim of countless Emmy snubs for her performance as the sometimes acerbic mother of Lorelai Gilmore on Gilmore Girls. She’s less acerbic, and more June Cleaver in Dirty Dancing. Really, the film is less than interested in her but like all those moments when good actors get terrible roles she makes it seem much more significant than it is. She gets her first line when her older daughter begins lamenting about a pair of shows she didn’t bring along. What always amuses me is how un-ironic is in her dealings with her flight daughter.
Well, sweetheart you brought three pairs.
It’s her first line, and you’d expect the slightest bit of sarcasm there. But, Kelly plays it so straight it only makes the admittedly silly antics that more droll.

It’s as stereotypical a role as you’d expect. Baby is a daddy’s girl, so it’s Jerry Orbach Mr. Houseman who gets to be the parent in charge, but Marjorie still has her moments. Like when Jake threatens to end the vacation early preventing the family from enjoying the going-away party the lodge throws.
If looks could kill, eh?
It’s her last scene that always gets me, though. Which is odd, considering she doesn’t do much. But, for one, she looks lovely all dressed up there. She goes all mother lion and prevents Jake from going all crazy when Bobby shows up and she gets my favourite line in the film when, whilst watching Baby on stage she leans over to her husband and goes...
I think she gets this from me.” 
The line never fails to elicit a smile from me. It’s probably something of an in-joke. Bishop is a Tony winner actor for her work in A Chorus Line, incidentally so is Jerry Orbach (for his work in Promises, Promises) so of course Baby’s talented – her parents are theatre thespians.

She’s so much fun.
Did you have eyes for Jennifer and Patrick only, or do you remember Bishop in Dirty Dancing?


Candice Frederick said...

ahhh I do like Kelly. She does the icy woman role really well. would like to see her as something different.

Ryan T. said...

I never thought of the last line as a possible in-joke, probably because I never knew she's a Tony-winning actress either, so that's pretty funny if true.

I love this film. Watched it all the time when I was younger. But I never realized Marjorie was Emily Gilmore until late into Gilmore Girls run, which is embarrassing really.

CS said...

Will have to show my wife this post as she is a HUGE fan of the film. I must admit that Bishop is quite good in the film. She really brings life to a character that would be one-note in any other film.

Anonymous said...

What is really amazing to me about Kelly Bishop is that she was originally supposed to play the character, Vivian-the "Bungalow Bunny." When the actress who was playing Marjorie Houseman became ill after shooting had just begun, Kelly Bishop stepped in on the spur of the moment and took over the role!Kelly Bishop is an amazingly talented diverse performer.

However, I have to respectfully disagree about Patrick Swayze being bland in the movie.

Sue Tabashnik

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

candice i want to see her in ANYTHING. but she's especially delicious when being comedic. there's an episode where she gets a panic room in gilmore girls and starts arguing with lorelai about jodie foster. hilarious.

ryan that IS is embarrassing, but i guess it's weird seeing the frigid emily gilmore having so much fun.

cs yup. the character is not really MEMORABLE, or it shouldn't be. but she's loads of fun.

anonymous ha. i'm not a swayze fan, but i can't hate you for loving him. thanks for the tidbit on bishop. she IS a diverse actor.

anahita said...

I do love her - was just watching the gilmore girls today, she's so amazing!

Runs Like A Gay said...

Yippee, love this series, glad to see it return - even if you're literally choosing a character I had forgotten from a film I tried hard to forget.