Thursday, 17 September 2009

Memories of Patrick Swayze

Sadly Patrick Swayze has lost his long battle with pancreatic cancer. The Telegraph has a pretty good obituary.

On the flippant and shallow side, this is also sad because there will now doubtless be endless re-runs of Dirty Dancing. I was way too cool for this sappy and sexist Mills and Boon for the ’80s but set in the ’60s twaddle, but it is an iconic film nevertheless.

Ask a group of women to name their favourite film of the ’80s and at least one of them will invariably say Dirty Dancing (for blokes it’s Top Gun by the way). They love the unlikely girl gets the boy story and the blossoming of a wallflower and, of course, the dancing. Let’s not go into the reasons that blokes like the homo-eroticism, testosterone-fuelled pumping music, and thrusting weaponry of Top Gun.

Back to the dancing – it was considered highly risqué in 1987 – hence the name. That lift was practiced by wannabe dancers and gymnasts everywhere. It was like Torville and Dean got their skates off. Now the supposed-raunchiness is decidedly mediocre compared with Madonna’s aggressive gyrations, the confrontational posturing of the Pussycat Dolls, or the skanky-ho-bag antics of the ludicrously titled ‘Lady’ Gaga.

When I co-directed Scene Stealers in Arrowtown in 2006 I wrote a sketch comprised entirely of cinematic one-liners. I asked all the cast and crew to nominate two of their favourite filmic lines. I was surprised by the number of people who suggested ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’ and ‘I carried a watermelon’. One bloke even suggested, ‘Oh, come on, ladies. God wouldn't have given you maracas if He didn't want you to shake 'em’ but I think he had ulterior motives.

Scary Sis was a fan of the big cheesecake – as we referred to Patrick Swayze. She preferred him in Road House however. It was, if possible, even more naff but there was a scene in which he gets out of bed and the camera lingers lovingly on his behind. She watched that a lot. I think the pause button may have broken on her video.

My mum liked him in the miniseries North and South that we watched in the States. Everyone seems to have a Patrick Swayze moment.

Ghost was another much-feted film that was a pile of pants, quite frankly. It was nominated for an Oscar and in fact Whoopi Goldberg won one for best supporting actress. You may be forgiven for surmising that 1990 was a bad year for film – Dances with Wolves won seven Oscars (including best picture and best director) so you might well be right.

I didn’t like the evil spirits that came and dragged the bodies down to hell. In fact, I was going through a bad time with some personal bereavements and I’m not ashamed to admit that they gave me nightmares.

One of the worst films I've ever seen is Red Dawn. Yep, he’s in that too. However, my favourite Patrick Swayze film would have to be The Outsiders. When I was 12, I did think this was cool. I’d read the book by S.E. Hinton and then saw the film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It starred people of whom I’d never heard and had no idea would become so famous – Matt Dillon; Tom Cruise; Emilio Estevez; Rob Lowe. Patrick Swayze played Darrel Curtis, the oldest of three brothers, with a brooding sexuality.
It’s the age you were when you saw these things that reflect what remains with you, but I still think of this as his best role ever. That’s how I’ll remember him.

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