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?