Roadhouse (1989)

Crazy for Swayze’s Roadhouse

In Dirty Dancing, Sir Patrick Swayze danced his way into our hearts. In this week’s film selection, Road House, Swayze rips our throats out, sticks his hand through our oral cavity, and grabs hold of our hearts once again.

Let me start off by saying that the above paragraph is not just a metaphor – in this film, Patrick Swayze actually rips a man’s throat out.

Roadhouse DVD box artSwayze portrays Dalton, a “cooler”, who has a reputation for keeping the peace in some of the seediest drinking establishments. Dalton is hired to work at the Double Deuce, a bar in Jasper, Missouri, which is a haven for lowlifes and whores.

On his first night, Dalton is witness to a massive brawl. Soon after that he is stabbed.

The stabbing provides Dalton the opportunity to meet “Doc”, a female doctor who falls for him by the end of her three minute examination – I know what you’re thinking – what the &@#! took her so long!

Dalton’s no-nonsense approach soon leads to the Double Deuce becoming a respectable establishment – people are no longer having sex in the bathroom. Just when things are working out, evil rears its ugly head. A crime boss by the name of Brad Wesley starts to make Dalton’s life a living hell. Wesley uses his gang of thugs to extort money from Jasper’s businessmen, and doesn’t take kindly to the interference of Dalton.

Ben Gazzara, portraying Wesley, is pure dynamite. Wesley is the type of cruel, heartless monster that would simultaneously oversee the bulldozing of an orphanage, steal candy from a baby and reform S Club 7. Gazzara gives depth to what could have been a one-dimensional character. While we may despise Wesley for destroying an elderly man’s store for refusing to pay him protection money, we can also put ourselves in Wesley’s shoes and empathize with him.

What more can be said about Professor Patrick Swayze that hasn’t already been said? Like every character Swayze has portrayed, Dalton is a complex man. Sure he could dismantle any man, woman or set of encyclopedias with his mighty fists. However, it’s his intellect and understanding of the human condition that makes Dalton the premier cooler in the business. Both a philosopher and a fighter, Dalton will go down in the annals of film history with Don Corleone, Rhett Butler and Crocodile Dundee as the greatest of characters.

Another terrific performer in the film is blind Toronto born musician Jeff Healey. Jeff portrays Cody, the leader of the Double Deuce’s house band. Healey is marvelous as both a musician and an actor, but shines in the challenging role of a blind musician. As a side note, I had always heard that when people lose one sense, such as their sight, their other senses are more in tune. I once decided to test that theory, by winding up and throwing a punch at a blind man that I saw on the street, as I was under the impression that he would sense it coming a mile away. That hypothesis proved to be incorrect. Luckily, he was unable to pick me out of the police lineup, so I was released. In summary, Healey is fantastic.

Whether you’re looking for a movie with action, drama, romance or comedy, you’ll find what you are looking for in Road House You would be absolutely crazy to pass up on Swayze!

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