Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Five Great Patrick Swayze Roles

How could I let Patrick Swayze's death go unacknowledged? He was a tremendously successful actor and performer who also seemed to be a truly nice guy; he never got much respect as an actor, in part because he chose roles in movies that were unapologetic crowd-pleasers. But I can tell you this: I can quote far more of Patrick Swayze's best movie lines than Laurence Olivier's.

His two biggest films were probably Dirty Dancing and Ghost, but I'm not a big fan of either. Instead, here are five roles that I consider the man at his fearless, popcorny best.

1. "Dalton," Road House, 1989. Patrick Swayze plays the world's greatest bouncer, a man called in to clean up the worst, trashiest buckets of blood. I was late to understand the siren call of this film, which is may be the best TV movie ever; wherever you happen to click in, it's just plain entertaining. It also includes the immortal line, "I want you to be nice -- until it's time to not be nice."

2. "Vida," To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, 1995. He could dance, he could sing, and he was also a remarkably attractive woman. Patrick Swayze plays the most motherly of a group of drag queens stranded in a small town. His best line: "I want you to believe in yourself, imagine good things and moisturize. I cannot stress this enough."

3. "Bodhi," Point Break, 1991. If Dalton went to the dark side and became a surf god/bank robber, this is who he'd be. Keanu Reeves is the undercover FBI agent sent to bring Bodhi down, but even he struggles because Patrick Swayze in this role is just so damn cool. Signature line: “Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst dreams to come true.”

4. "Jed," Red Dawn, 1984. Patrick Swayze plays the older brother of Charlie Sheen, and the leader of a band of American teenagers who fight to defend the United States from Soviet invaders. He's ruthless but loyal, and ready to give his life for family and country . . . plus, he knows how to fill a radiator when you don't have any water. I read somewhere that they're remaking this movie, which I can't see any point to at all.

5. "Jim Cunningham," Donnie Darko, 2001. Probably Swayze's most complex role, and hard to say much about without giving away the movie to people who haven't seen it. Cunningham is a local celebrity and motivational speaker who keeps some dark secrets, and Donnie Darko's conviction that he is "the f***ing Antichrist" drives much of the film's plot. It's a shame that Swayze didn't play more villains, because he's scary as hell here.


Tom Ehrenfeld said...

Oh man do I looooove Point Break for all the wrong (right?) reasons. It also happens to be my favorite Keanu Reeves role (it would be a trifecta if not for Gary Busey's utterly charming turn in The Buddy Holly Story, and we're just not going to count Lori Petty). And while Bodhi gets good lines the real memorable ones still, in my mind, go to Johnny Dallas. Vio con dios Bodhi. You're going down. Woah.

But yah, Patrick Swayze is just so far more charismatic in his role as Bodhi than one should ever expect. And as for your choice of Road House...to quote Ghost, which certainly didn't belong on this list, "Ditto."

Claire said...

Red Dawn was an NSLC staple. We considered it educational, as it's always good to be prepared in case Cuba and a reformed Soviet Union parachute into middle America. WOLVERINES!

John Schramm said...

What about the role of Darrel (aka Dari) Curtis in THE OUTSIDERS? He was great there, too.

Clair, take a look at my tribute, I think you'll like it.


AnswerGirl said...

I shouldn't admit this, but I've never seen THE OUTSIDERS. I didn't like the book.