Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner (Documentary Series: “The Movies That Made Us”)

A fun-packed, behind-the-scenes look at 4 films that left an indelible mark on the American zeitgeist.

SnapShot Plot

In the 4-part Netflix series, The Movies That Made Us, we get an in-depth sneak peek at the often insurmountable odds of making a movie, in particular the (now) classic Dirty Dancing, Ghostbusters, Home Alone, and Die Hard. This reviewer’s arguably subjective animus for the last two films have limited this post to Dirty Dancing and Ghostbusters only, but based on how revealing and insightful the first two are, I may feel compelled to finish the series.

With in-depth interviews with the creators and studio executives now and then, plus loads of ‘home movies’ from the sets of these films, we get a bird’s eye view of just how crazy and seemingly impossible the world of movie-making really is. Looking back, it seems almost miraculous that these movies ever got off the ground, let alone became among the most beloved films in the history of cinema. This inside look has it all, from the perils and politics of studio pitches to casting, production, location shoots, choreography, special effects, music, direction, et al. Couple that with rare archival footage, outtakes, and biographical gems about the actors who will forever be associated with their roles in these pictures. . . of course we can only imagine Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle and Jennifer Grey as Baby. But it could have gone in a completely different direction, as we discover. And who knew that if not for John Belushi’s untimely death, he would have co-starred across from Dan Aykroyd in Ghostbusters, and that Eddie Murphy was a shoe-in for the role that went to Ernie Hudson? Or that nobody on the set knew if Bill Murray would even show up for filming at all? And, in a stranger than fiction way, who knew that Dan Akroyd, in penning the script for the movie, was paying homage to his own ancestors in Canada who had delved into the world of the occult since the 1920s? This is just a sampler of the fantastic insider stuff that even a moderate film buff will simply eat up.

Parting Shot

Despite an irritating narrator who sounds like he’s voicing over a bloopers reel, this is so worth the ride. For the Boomers among us, this delightful series will be a nostalgic walk down memory lane. For a younger audience, these four pictures probably represent a history lesson on a recently bygone era in American pop culture. But one thing rings true in that these movies captured a feeling of the times, and did it so brilliantly, and often on shoestring budgets and against all odds, that they became standard setters for their genres, often rewriting the genres themselves. This first season installment hails from the creators of another series on Netflix, The Toys That Made Us.

On a sentimental note, the series delivers quite heartfelt testimonials and remembrances to Patrick Swayze and also to Harold Ramis, both of whom were taken much too early. The respect and emotional sincerity with which their co-stars and creators discuss their work and their friendship is palpable, and stands as a reminder that at the core of all these productions runs a thru-line of passion and commitment, to the work and to each other.

The Movies That Made Us is presently streaming on Netflix.

Norma’s Streaming Picks is proud to partner on a fantastic site for Baby Boomers, Midcentury/Modern as well as right here at home. I invite you to go there for more great content!

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