Looking for a way to unwind but can’t get the time or money together to make it to the theater? Widescreen Warrior is here to help. Each weekend we’ll present you with a mini-marathon you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Connected by cast members, crew, or theme, our mini-marathons are sure to be a fun way to spice up your weekend entertainment*
Although we’ve known he was quite sick for a while, the death of Patrick Swayze came as quite a shock. I hadn’t watched Swayze’s recent appearances, including his series The Beast, so in my mind he was still an actor in his prime, young and strong.
Margaret already paid a brief tribute to the actor in her obituary piece, including her top ten Swayze movies. That sort of inspired me, because this weekend I feel like revisiting some classic Swayze. As much as I love some of his more recent stuff (his role in Donnie Darko is a fantastic piece of the movie), I want to see Swayze as I remember him – the man’s man, who wasn’t afraid to show a little sensitivity as well.
And yes, we’ve been a little serious with our weekend marathons lately. We’ll try to lighten up and have some fun with them over the next couple of weeks.
Red Dawn was a movie that perfectly captured the fears of my childhood, when the Cold War was at a point that invasion by the Russians was a genuine concern for an over-imaginative child. Those years are gone now, although I wonder if the post-9/11 generation can relate to this just as easily (a big reason why I think a remake almost makes sense… almost). Swayze is just a cog in this excellent machine, but he’s an important cog and while the remake does (almost) make sense, it almost feels like blasphemy that news about it came out so quickly on the heels of Swayze’s death. Swayze’s Jed is a character deeply hurt by what happens, moreso than many of us would be, because he’s a character who takes pride in his home in a way that goes beyond patriotism. It’s something that’s impossible to describe to someone who didn’t experience the movie in the context of its time, but Jed, Robert, and the “Wolverines!” battle cry was a staple of my childhood for many years.
I have a special place in my heart for Dirty Dancing, and not because it was filmed only a few hours away from where I live. Dirty Dancing was the movie that showed just how macho a guy could be, yet still have a sensitive side. Johnny Castle is the guy everyone looks up to in the movie, the guy who gets all the ladies, and what does he do? He’s a dancer. I think that goes a long way toward shattering the image of the man’s man (although Swayze would go a long way toward repairing that image with Road House). Personally, I love the fact that there’s so much more to Johnny than there first appears – something that nobody sees, and yet he’s the only one who sees that there’s so much more to Baby than everyone sees. How can we ever forget the immortal line, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” or the magic of finally making the leap, or even the soundtrack which provided the tunes for my early high school experience? We can’t. This is the Patrick Swayze I’ll always remember.
Add-ons to customize your marathon: I have to admit to not having seen Road House or Point Break yet (glaring omissions in my guilty-pleasure-action knowledge) so those are must sees at this point. Also his small part in The Outsiders, as well as Youngblood, and Next of Kin fit well here.
* Weekend entertainment values may vary from viewer to viewer. Some mini-marathons may require the aid of adult beverages for full entertainment value.