Monday, July 14, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Is "Dirty Dancing" the "Most Jewish Movie"?

While it would be one of many of my nominees, this affectionate appreciation from Julie Klausner might persuade others to vote for Dirty Dancing as what the author calls "most Jewishest movie."

Is "Dirty Dancing" the "Most Jewish Movie"?

Baby (Jennifer Grey) learns to soar with the help of Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze)
Baby (Jennifer Grey) learns to soar with the help of Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze)

While it would be one of many of my nominees, this affectionate appreciation from Julie Klausner might persuade others to vote for Dirty Dancing as what the author calls "most Jewishest movie."

 In honor of the High Holidays, let Jewish and Gentile cinephiles offer their thoughts on the subject.

In the animation category): Prince of Egypt  (1998, with the voice of Ralph Fiennes as Moses) and The Rugrats Passover. In the classics category:  Counsellor at Law (1933, with John Barrymore as the attorney who suspects his wife of anti-Semitism). In the the comedy category: Annie Hall (1977, with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton) and In Her Shoes (2005, despite the fact that Shirley MacLaine is cast as a Jewish nana). In the drama category: Enemies: A Love Story (1989, with Ron Silver as the Holocaust survivor leading a triple life) or Munich (2005, with Eric Bana and Daniel Craig as an agent sof Israel's Mossad) or Defiance (2008, with Daniel Craif and Liev Schreiber as Jewish Nazi-fighters during World War II). In the musical category it's Dirty Dancing  (1987, with Jennifer Grey as the Jewess attracted to Gentile dancer Patrick Swayze) and Marjorie Morningstar (1958, Natalie Wood as the Jewess attracted to Gentile dancer Gene Kelly). Upcoming is the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man, a serious candidate for the honor.

Spike Lee once told me that he just "didn't get" Enemies and shrugged, "Maybe you just have to be Jewish." I don't know that that's true. But I was reminded of his perplexed reaction to the movie as I was walking out of (the very fine)  A Serious Man and buttonholed Gentile colleague Lou Gaul  and asked, "Is this understandable to a non-Jew?" Lou nodded, answering, "Oh, it's so Catholic." Yom tov to members of the tribe, a good weekend to everyone else ... and your nominee?

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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