Sad news came this morning when on the Today show it was announced that Patrick Swayze has pancreatic cancer. They say he's undergoing treatment and doing pretty well. Meredith Vierra then made a point of saying, "Well, if you're going to have cancer, pancreatic cancer isn't the one you want." As always, she was waiting in the wings with just the right thing to say.
There are a number of 80's/early 90's films, all of widely varying levels of quality, that if I find are on TV, I get really excited and feel immediately obliged to watch them. And as luck would have it, Patrick Swayze plays a significant role in this list of hits. In honor of everybody's favorite dancing man and his speedy recovery, let's copy so many other blogs today and dork out with a walk down my personal Swayze-memory lane.
Dirty Dancing. There's so much right with Dirty Dancing, it's impossible to really delve into this topic here. It's a post unto itself. First love, first overtly sexual dance moves, back alley abortion, class wars, triumph over both adversity and terrible music. But at the end of the day, Swayze and his tight little pants made this movie and without him, well, Baby might as well have stayed in that corner.
(Side note: Friends of mine over the years have said that Baby's dad, played by the late Jerry Orbach, looked a little like my dad.)
And not that any real DD fan needs a reminder, but Swayze was also a triple threat this time around:
Ghost. I don't love Ghost the way some folks do - primarily because Swayze wasn't dancing in this film, and to me, that's like chocolate without peanut butter; it's good, but it could be better.
Regardless, it's a hit - high on drama, lots of tears, cheese. And nobody gets pissed off like Patrick Swayze, especially pissed off ghost Swayze! Even though his fight scenes were always a little too graceful, he still got the job done. Whoopi Goldberg is also in this movie, but don't let that deter you. She plays a character named Oda Mae. She's naturally pretty annoying. But there is a bonus: hearing Patrick Swayze say Oda Mae over and over. It couldn't sound more unnatural coming out of his mouth.
Roadhouse. For years this film was somehow interwoven in my mind with Rhinestone as an odd hybrid featuring Patrick Swayze, Sylvester Stallone, Sam Elliott and Dolly Parton. (add Cher and you almost have Mask in there, too.) Here again we find ourselves dealing with Patrick's overly graceful fight moves. He got away with it in Ghost, but in a white trash bar fight all that prancing around doesn't cut it. Fortunately Sam Elliott is there to balance out the necessary scruffy masculine equilibrium as only he can. And the soundtrack? Bob Seger, Little Feet and a song called "Raising Heaven in Hell Tonight", another original by Swayze. Can you believe I couldn't find a clip of that song on YouTube?
Maybe someday I'll post about the other films in my private hits list which includes the aforementioned Mask, Ghostbusters, House Party, Fast Times as Ridgemont High and Porkie's. (I know you'll all look out for that post with great anticipation.) But today it's just about Swayze. Get well soon, Johnny Castle.