Monday, September 14, 2009

To Patrick Swayze Thanks for Everything, Susie Shemp

The passing today of Patrick Swayze has affected me to a surprising degree. I never valued him as a serious actor; he was not the sort you'd see accepting an Academy Award or pontificating on the craft of acting. He's the charming lug, the romantic tough guy with the nice ass.
When I read that he was fighting pancreatic cancer at the beginning of last year, I simply thought, "Well that's too bad. Seems like a nice guy." He has seemed to be on the brink of death for a year now, growing thinner and more haggard-looking with fewer and fewer public appearances. We all knew it would not be long.
Looking back now, I can admit that I loved several of his movies. They weren't Shakespeare, but they were entertaining. I'd rather watch To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, with all its flaws, than watch The English Patient. I'd like to reminisce about his most famous roles and notorious films.

The Outsiders Swayze played big brother Darry Curtis in the adaptation of S.E. Hinton's classic teen novel about the struggle between the Greasers and the Socs. Darry may be his earliest sensitive tough guy role.

Red Dawn As Jed, Patrick Swayze led the Wolverines in kicking some commie Soviet ass after an invasion. Awesome popcorn flick. I hope Patrick haunts the sacrilegious upcoming remake.

"North and South" In the epic 80's TV miniseries, Swayze played a southern-born West Point Cadet on the eve of the Civil War. As the country tears itself apart, Swayze's Orry Main finds himself in love with a woman he can't have, and on the opposite side of the war as his best friend.

Dirty Dancing Johnny Castle is the role that made Swayze an international sex symbol and gave him the opportunity to show off the dance skills he acquired growing up as the son of a renowned dancer and choreographer. Those tight black pants, those smooth moves, those hungry eyes... Swayze also recorded the hit song "She's Like the Wind" for the movie's soundtrack.

Road House Forget the plot and enjoy the cheese of Swayze as a philosophical bouncer in a dirty roadhouse bar. Relish the brilliance of lines like, "Pain don't hurt." Soak it up. It's sweaty asskicking Swayze time.

Ghost The movie that your girlfriend made you take her to see. Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore make love covered in pottery clay and live for each other even beyond death. This one might be even sadder to watch now that he's gone for real.

Point Break In one of my favorite action movies, Swayze plays zen surfer and unlikely bank robber Bodhi. He surfs, robs, plays football, and sky dives, luring Keanu Reeves's FBI agent into his charismatic world all the way.

To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar
Swayze does drag and does it well. Miss Vida Boheme is a lady, despite her amazingly strong jawline and sculpted arms. The joyfully silly comedy contains Swayze's bravest role. That is, until...

Donnie Darko Swayze played oily motivational speaker Jim Cunningham in Richard Kelly's bizarre time-warping tale. Even when he's being positive and kind, Cunningham makes your skin crawl and rightfully so. This is Swayze's best performance.

Just because an actor doesn't make important movies, doesn't mean they can't become important to us. Thanks for the good times, Patrick.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't realize until I was putting up a post like this just how many films of Swayze's I enjoyed both publicly (red dawn) and secretly (to wong foo). I always felt though that he'd be one of those actors who around 60/70 would play the sort of tough guy running on empty and finally get that oscar nomination. It really is a shame he passed away, he'll most definitely be missed.