this past Monday, your humble narrator janklow was out on the town celebrating the anniversary of the birth of his younger sibling when we heard the news: legend of the silver screen Patrick Swayze had succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 57. we became sobered (momentarily, anyway) and drank a generally serious toast in memory of his passing, and that’s when my colleague J.Miles leaned over and said “i think we need a tribute to Patrick Swayze this Friday.” and i said “okay.” and that is the story of this update. and now, for the actual update:
JANKLOW’S 13 FAVORITE PATRICK SWAYZE PERFORMANCES
yeah… not really sure what’s going on here… all i know is that it’s after some kind of apocalypse and Patrick Swayze has a dramatic sword of some type and his hair is UNTAMED
13. 1983: the Outsiders (as Darrel Curtis)
actually, i’m not sure i’ve seen this entire film, and i know i didn’t like the book very much. Ponyboy? Sodapop? what kind of a gang is this supposed to be? still, this film is very popular for reasons like its ridiculous 1980s cast (aside from Patrick Swayze himself, it includes C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, the incomparable Ralph Macchio, pre-sex-fiend Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, and Tom Cruise at his most heterosexual) and… uh… well, like i said, i don’t think i saw this entire film, but i know a bunch of people out there like it, so i’m including it here for you.
12. 1987: Steel Dawn (as Nomad)
i didn’t see this either, and i admit we’re probably not getting off to the most impressive start to this list, which should maybe have been titled “janklow’s 13 favorite Patrick Swayze moments that he didn’t actually watch.” but have you seen the promotional art for this film? Swayze in a headband staring emotionally at a post-apocalyptic frontier? defending settlers and their water from a gang, Mad Max style? this is one of those films that i periodically notice and think “i need to watch this IMMEDIATELY” and then forget completely about when i see a really cool slug in the driveway to play with or something. still… since the man just passed away… i should probably get to watching this immediately… although i did see a wicked toad in the driveway this evening…
11. 1990: Ghost (as Sam Wheat)
terrible, terrible movie that janklow was forced to watch several times in his youth, much like Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. it’s just such an awkward concept: Patrick Swayze’s a ghost and he’s trying to avenge his death… only he’s really more awkwardly trying to convince people to avenge his death for him. the supporting cast is Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, for crying out loud. it’s supposed to be romantic, and maybe i just don’t “get” movies about love or something, but what’s the romantic angle, that he’s dead but is hanging around being helpful? he’s dead, this can’t work? anyway, it’s this high on the list because it’s proof that Swayze can make a movie like this and not have me think any less of him and, of course, because it’s popular with the ladies. ladies LOVE Ghost. side note: Sam Wheat is a terrible, terrible name for a character.
10. 1998: Black Dog (as Jack Crews)
this is one of those “let’s keep making the scenario more ridiculous” kinds of films, what with Patrick Swayze being an ex-con who happens to be driving a truckload of guns across the country, only to have the government and a crime syndicate start fighting over everything, and maybe there’s a magical dog in there somewhere (i forget how magical it really is, but film dogs are generally filled with mysterious skills). but why do they need Swayze to drive these guns if they can spare people to keep an eye on the guns? i’m sure they explained this in the film at some point, but i don’t recall the answer. maybe i need to watch it again. Meat Loaf is also in this movie, if that kind of thing does anything for you.
so i think we all know there’s really no way i could have written anything about Patrick Swayze and NOT have posted a ridiculous photo from Dirty Dancing
09-08. 1985-1986: North and South/North and South, Book II (as Orry Main)
this gets bonus points for being one of the things that (supposedly) gave Patrick Swayze his break into the world of acting; i’m not a Civil War buff, so this work never meant that much to me, but i DO think it’s pretty excellent that his name is Orry. Orry! man, sometimes Swayze gets cursed with a terrible fictional name (like Sam Wheat)… and then sometimes he gets one that’s solid gold! anyway, we learn that North and South can work together to build America despite our differences or something, and then Swayze’s character gets murdered before (or at the start of) Book III, as it only features him in archival footage. tragic.
07. 1991: Point Break (as Bodhi)
so, to be fair, Patrick Swayze gets completely overshadowed by two of the most ridiculous men ever to have starring roles on film: Keanu Reeves (who tries, but, you know, look what he has to work with) and Gary Busey (who is literally INSANE). so while he’s a completely flip, surfer-slash-bank-robber with the terrible name of Bodhi who should according captivate you, he’s having to fight for attention for his flowing locks and saucy presidential mask because you cannot look away from Busey chewing the scenery and Reeves trying really, really, REALLY hard to be serious about this acting thing. but Swayze does a great job. he deserves some credit. some people seem to think there’s a serious bromance going on here, but i always thought that Reeves maybe had a crush on Swayze, but that Swayze was strictly for the ladies. am i wrong?
06. 1981: M*A*S*H season 9 episode Z-421, “Blood Brothers” (as Pvt. Gary Sturgis)
as many of you out there now, some years back, i went on an exhaustive quest to view episode after episode of the preachy, Alan-Alda-heavy comedy series M*A*S*H until i had seen the episode guest-starring Joe Pantoliano, as a) he’s a favorite actor of mine and b) i was wont to be awake from 3 to 4 in the morning without much else to watch on television. now this is where Swayze comes in: i happened randomly upon another episode wherein Swayze plays Gary Sturgis, who desperately wishes to give a wounded comrade blood, only to learn he has leukemia. now, this wasn’t Patrick Swayze, established star, making a guest appearance on the show (as many established actors had done), this was youngster Swayze out of nowhere, like an unpolished diamond gleaming in a mine in Arkansas. like the one you can just go there and pick free diamonds at? you need to be aware of this mine for this reference to w- ah, forget it. it’s a solid episode.
05. 1987: Dirty Dancing (as Johnny Castle)
much like Ghost and, as always, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, i was forced to watch this movie a couple of times in my youth. and yet you may note that i’ve ranked it much higher, even though it’s fundamentally about a lot of ridiculous dancing and singing and romance. for starters, the previous notes apply: Patrick Swayze making this film didn’t decrease my respect for him (and again, i HATE romantic movies) and ladies LOVE the hell out of this movie. additionally, there’s a lot of sassy interactions between Swayze and Jerry Orbach, and everyone loves Jerry Orbach. third, this movie does have the occasionally interesting “let’s point out that everything in the idyllic 1960s actually was disgusting and terrible” thing going on which, okay, occasionally gives us jokes like that one about the Fountainhead that i don’t think the target demographic for this film gets. in fact, i am going to grill my mother about this and see if she does. final point: this is the film that gave us “nobody puts Baby in a corner.”
Swayze’s expression indicates his belief that you are, in fact, too stupid to have a good time
04. 2001: Donnie Darko (as Jim Cunningham)
so Patrick Swayze does an excellent job here and everything, but this is really more about the role than the man: the contrast in casting beloved-of-America Swayze as a motivational speaker … who happens to be a pedophile (with a “dungeon of child pornography”) at the same time. so you can imagine the challenge of watching a film where you really shouldn’t be rooting for Patrick Swayze. it also helps that in many respects this is just a better film (internet praise/hatred for it aside) than the average work Swayze has done (i mean, i’m sorry, but Youngblood and Tiger Warsaw are simply NOT masterpieces of the modern cinema). still, if you’ve been turned off by, you know, the internet nerds… don’t be, just watch it.
03. 1990: that Saturday Night Live sketch where Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley are auditioning to be Chippendale dancers
i probably don’t really need to elaborate as to a) what i am talking about or b) why this is AWESOME. it’s a funny skit in its own right, Patrick Swayze proves he’s willing to be ridiculous to make a skit work, and Farley always brings it when the comedy is physical. and plus, Swayze’s got just about the fiercest mullet he would ever have. i’d love to be able to hand you off to a video of this… but you know how NBC is. so let’s try one of terrible quality and we’ll see if that satisfies you.
eh, probably not. but it’s still a great sketch.
02. 1989: Road House (as Dalton)
our obsession with this film around these parts is well-established: i’ve often stated i will always finish watching it if i randomly come across it on television, J.Miles co-signs its excellence, you’re a quote unquote “fucking Communist” if you don’t like it, and i’m pretty sure i’ve posted about why you should watch it before. why, i might just quote myself:
“actually, i understand that thereâ€™s a fine line between a bad movie and a movie thatâ€™s no darling of the critics thatâ€™s still just fun. this is the latter. i suppose after my affection being lavished on Sam Elliott (well-deserved) and Patrick Swayze (which must always be defended) that you think iâ€™ll make this all about them, and i probably could (well, about Sam Elliott, anyway)â€¦ but thatâ€™s really beside the point, because i could put them in some period piece with tights and they would turn that motherfucker OUT. though, to be fair, iâ€™m not sure what exactly happens in cinematic terms when you turn a motherfucker out, but iâ€™m sure itâ€™s great stuff. what it means to me is that you should tune out the nagging part of your brain that made you appreciate Amadeus and enjoy it when the smirking villain declares to Swayze that â€œi used to fuck guys like you in prison!â€ and itâ€™s really a very solid mindless action movie: people get wailed on, but not in crazy unreal ways; one-liners get dropped, but they tend to be appropriate and almost funny; Keith David puts in an appearance. i mean, if youâ€™re a film snob, you can make excuses, but if i catch you watching some shit like Commando, then Road House better be on your list.”
01. 1984: Red Dawn (as Jed)
because it’s goddamn RED DAWN. i used to watch this movie every year as a little kid; i’ve grown up to have a sticker on my car promoting my film and an AK in the closet in case, you know, Cubans and Russians try any kind of funny invasions of the US (although in the film’s scenario, i would probably have been nuked when DC was). and, once again, i’m pretty sure i rambled on about this before:
“so i probably donâ€™t need to elaborate on how much i love Red Dawn; suffice to say that itâ€™s great and itâ€™s sort of the inspiration for my life and itâ€™s DEFINITELY the reason why i am always spray-painting the declaration â€œWOLVERINESâ€ onto things. along with â€œRoad House,â€ itâ€™s one of the Patrick Swayze films i will always, always stop and watch…
now, i can get serious and debate the actual merits and flaws of this film: for example, itâ€™s pretty dependent on backstory thatâ€™s never really explained beyond references here and there, and some of that backstory (the US suffering some tactical nuclear strikes, but Russia being able to mobilize and transport a large military force without suffering the same in response) is sometimes a little iffy, in my humble opinion. i know they say the concept is based on actual strategic thinking and US weaknesses at the time, but, hey, iâ€™m just one man. but that being said, itâ€™s still a film where i get to watch a bunch of random Soviet goons, be they Russian or Cuban, get mowed down by angry Midwestern teenagers with AKs. and thatâ€™s something pretty awesome.
plus, Family Guy once had a bit about a musical version of this filmâ€¦ which i would pay a large amount of money to actually see in person. if it was real. which itâ€™s not. which makes me sad.”
the only flaw in this being my favorite Swayze moment is that he’s not the one to shout “boys… AVENGE ME!” but avenge Harry Dean Stanton he does. frankly, if this lame Red Dawn remake comes to fruition, i’m going to have to seriously consider the notion that Swayze died when he did so that he’d never have to see them bastardize his legacy like that.
so there it is. i recommend some people watch Road House and Red Dawn immediately if they haven’t already done so. also, if you’d like to read more ridiculous memorials of Patrick Swayze, i recommend the following:
7 Life Lessons We Learned From Patrick Swayze: this one might have embedded a better version of the Chippendales sketch i reference above, so check it out there if you lust for better quality.
Patrick Swayze Tribute: Ten Things â€œRoadhouseâ€ Taught Us About Fighting: because you really can never get enough of Road House. seriously, i’d think you guys would realize by now how serious i am about this notion.
Why Patrick Swayze Was The Second Best Movie Star Ever: yes, basically everyone hits the same roles and all; i just hope i’m not stealing anyone’s jokes.