Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the cinema of the '80s and early '90s knows the majesty of Patrick Swayze. Over the course of a handful of films, Swayze crafted a composite character who was somehow the toughest of tough guys while simultaneously the sensitive sweetheart who knew just the thing to say to his lady. Each of these characters was technically different -- written by different writers, directed by different directors -- yet all contained the essence of Swayze. And he managed to do this while rocking an egregious mullet, which has to be good for some bonus points. His film career comprises almost fifty roles, but in truth only a few movies really represent the true Swayze. Here, in honor of tonight's Film on the Rocks presentation of Point Break at Red Rocks, we have collected the Swayziest of movies in honor of the man, the myth, the legend: the Swayze.
In 1984 two important historical thresholds had yet to be crossed. First, the Soviet Union had yet to fall to America's unbeatable economic might and general kick-assness. Second, nearly as important, the world had yet to learn the true majesty of Swayze. Arguably, it wasRed Dawn
that tipped both of those historical situations toward their eventual resolutions. At this point, Swayze had played the role of big brother in a few films, but here he got to play the best big broever
. He not only looks after his little brother and his friends, he also leads the American insurgency against the invading commie scum, inspiring millions to take up the cause if and when the Soviets ever came for real. Knowing they could never win against the might of Swayze, the Russkies folded just a few years later. Wolverines!4) Dirty Dancing
The next milestone in the history of Swayze is the 1987 movieDirty Dancing
. Now, you're probably saying, "Wait a minute, isn't that movie about dancing and stuff? I thought this dude was supposed to be tough." Oh, he is. Tough yet sensitive, and this is where some of that sensitive comes in. But make no mistake -- just like nobody puts Baby in the corner, nobody emasculates Swayze, even by casting him as a dance instructor named Johnny Castle. Not everyone can pull off the name Johnny Castle, but Swayze can. And he looked cool doing it, becoming a major star just about overnight thanks to a little movie about romance and mambo that cost $6 million to make and earned $214 million. This movie is the reason your girlfriend loves Swayze at least as much as you do.
"Pain don't hurt" is an actual line fromRoad House
, and if you think that sounds stupid, well, you're right. ButRoad House
was so sublimely stupid, from the opening frames to the closing credits, that it somehow transcended stupidity and circled back around to awesome. The WTF premise of a professional bouncer with a mysterious past who's part Zen guru and part bar renovation specialist could only have been pulled off by someone with the sublime cool of Swayze. It's likeKitchen Nightmares
if Gordon Ramsay was replaced by an easy-going, mystical-bullshit-talking dreamboat who wasn't afraid to kick the shit out of someone who really needed it, which might actually be a good show.2) Ghost
Here again, Swayze gets to show off his romantic side, as a dude who gets killed five minutes into the movie and spends the rest of the runtime as a ghost. But he turns out to be a pretty badass ghost, naturally. He refuses to go gently -- or at all -- into that good night, and instead helps his still-living girlfriend not get murdered by figuring out how to move object by sheer force of will and also by pestering the shit out of Whoopi Goldberg. Even as a dead guy, the Swayze is an irresistible force. Need further proof? According to Wikipedia, this movie inspired the adoption of the name Swayze as a reference in hip-hop, meaning to vanish like a ghost. Not a lot of mullet-headed white guys can claim "name is a hip-hop lyric" as a resume bullet point.1) Point Break
The very Swayziest of all films,Point Break
seems like the role he was born to play. In case you somehow missed it, this is a film about a gang of thrill-seeking bank robbers led by a mysterious guru with terrible hair and a penchant for spouting mystical gibberish. See, the role of Swayze lifetime! Director Kathryn Bigelow somehow manages to make this cornball premise into a crackerjack action movie, and she wouldn't have been able to pull it off without the steady hand of Swayze at the helm as Bodhi, the leader of the gang. Plus, as a bonus, he got to sort of hand the torch of "inexplicably appealing dude actor" off to co-star Keanu Reeves, who spent the next decade carving out his own niche as an in-demand movie star who somehow manages to make all of his characters seem like the same guy.
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