August 10 marked the 25th anniversary of the date when the United States was attacked by air and ground forces allied with the Soviet Union -- an assault that prompted a plucky band of youngsters in Calumet, Colorado to take up arms and defend their precious homeland against the godless invading hordes. Of course, most of us believed this event to have been the fictional creation of infamous Hollywood gun nut John Milius, who co-wrote and directed an account of the battles that followed under the perfect Reagan-era title Red Dawn -- although Westword's own Jason Sheehan seemed pretty certain it actually happened in his blog commemorating this momentous occasion.
Patrick Swayze, who played Jed, the leader of the Calumet crew (known as the Wolverines, ther high school mascot) has died at age 57 from pancreatic cancer, and in most of the obituaries I've read, Red Dawn either is ignored entirely in favor of flicks such as The Outsiders, Dirty Dancing and Ghost, or it's name-checked in cursory fashion. For my money, though, his Dawn performance, along with the one he gave in the wonderfully loopy Point Break, encapsulates his on-screen appeal: beefy, athletic and eye-wideningly sincere no matter how silly or over-the-top a given line he's delivering might be. A great actor? Only his most rabid fans would make that claim, even today. But a movie star? For a brief but memorable period, absolutely. Plus, he saved America from the Commies -- an even prouder achievement.
Look below to see the Red Dawn trailer. Avenge me!