Monday, September 14, 2009
R.I.P. Patrick Swayze
It has been a tough summer for those of us who grew up watching films in the 80's. First we lose John Hughes back in August(Podcast on that subject is coming soon,that is why no tribute on the blog), now we have lost one of my childhood heroes with Patrick Swayze. Like Hughes,Swayze has been around, but his best work died when the 90's began. Patrick Swayze was very good in Donnie Darko(2001), but that is the only memorable performance since Point Break(1991). The first thing I saw him in was in The Outsiders(1983), and I must have watched that film a hundred times. Over the next 8 years(which seems like a lifetime when you are a kid) I watched everything he was in including Tiger Warsaw(1988). Swayze had a great commanding voice and a terrific screen presence. There was a reason he was in charge in every movie he was in, he chewed up screen time and always gave that older brother vibe. I loved every film he did from 1983-1991, but these are my favorites.
The Outsiders(1983) The first time I saw Swayze was as leader of the Greasers and Ponyboy's older brother Darrel Curtis. He was a real prick at the beginning, but then Ponyboy and Johnny killed Leif Garrett and he stopped being a hard ass. With the crew of talented actors in this film Sawyze takes control and leads them to victory over the well dressed Socs.
Dirty Dancing(1987) Yes it's a girlie film, but if all girlie films were this good then I would be a happy man. Johnny Castle is perhaps the role that will always be associated with Swayze. Good story and good cast,but I always felt that Johnny and Baby didn't have great chemistry. That is mainly because Baby had nothing to offer to the older and cooler Johnny but youth and sex, and he didn't need any help in that department. Swayze reeks of coolness, confidence and really carries this film. Only Swayze is allowed to put Baby in the corner.
Youngblood(1986) This is Rob Lowe's film,but Swayze's Derek Sutton makes this ship float. This isn't a great film,but I watched it so much as a kid it still holds a place in my heart. Swayze is the veteran player that must teach young Lowe how to stop being a pussy and fight the hated and hairy Racki. Again Swayze plays the older brother/mentor role that he shined at. I watched it again recently and it still holds up for me.
Red Dawn(1984) Out of all of his films this one had the most impact. As a child I had a great fear of Nuclear War and Red Dawn fed that fear more than any film. It was a mixture of fear of a Russian attack and the fun of playing guns in the woods that made this film so appealing. Again Swayze is the leader(Jed) of a bunch of kids hiding from a bunch of evil Reds. He takes charge and decides to fight back, and he does it his way on his turf. Swayze is so in charge that a older Powers Boothe and crazy C.Thomas Howell don't even try to take control. Jed doesn't take prisoners, allow crying, or put up with snitches. Red Dawn is a film of it's time and it is a shame they are remaking it. The producers have big shoes to fill and they won't come close to filling Swayze's.
Point Break(1991) The last great performance. A action film is only as good as it's villain, and Swayze's surfer Bodhi plays it to the tee. He is so good in this that you care more about him than Special Agent Utah. I watched this the other night and even when you find out Swazye is the bad guy you don't stop liking him, in fact you root for him. It's a shame Swayze didn't go out riding the treacherous waves from the 100 year storm.
Road House(1989) The name is Dalton! Was their any doubt that this would be on my list? This movie is like a fine wine and improves with age. I think Swayze's role as Dalton has become his second most beloved character behind Johnny Castle, but it is easily my favorite. Anyone who whips comebacks like "Pain don't Hurt.", "Your too stupid to have a good time!", and "Opinions Vary." is all right in my book. I noticed none of the online obituaries mention this film because Road House is all balls and adrenaline and it caps my most beloved decade in film. I was lucky enough to see this film at the theater and had the same reaction as a 9th grader as I do now...Fun Filled Greatness! In fact The Outsiders and Youngblood were cable movies for me , the rest I saw at the theater. Other films that almost made the list were Ghost(1990),Next Of Kin(1989), and Grandview,U.S.A(1984) all good films,but I like these a bit better. Lets not forget the funny side of Swayze, his S.N.L. performance with Chris Farley as competing Chip and Dale dancers is gold. He will be missed and sadly another part of my childhood is gone.