Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Patrick Swayze 1952-2009

You surely have heard that Patrick Swayze died yesterday of the pancreatic cancer he'd been fighting since 2008. Swayze was far past his late 1980s stardom, and although he was the subject of much mockery, I always had a soft spot for him.

One of his earliest roles was in Coppola's excellent teen drama THE OUTSIDERS, where his tough-guy persona was quickly established. Fans of the ridiculous right-wing fantasy RED DAWN will remember him as Jed, leader of the 'resistance'. But his emblematic part was in DIRTY DANCING, where he rode the wave of a cultural phenomenon and became a world-wide sex symbol. Now a cheesy classic, that film was originally a true independent, made with no budget by a minor studio.

My favorite Swayze movie has to be Kathryn Bigelow's POINT BREAK, where he plays a surfer-bank robber- adrenaline junkie. The energy and dynamism he projects is one of those intangible things that have nothing to do with acting chops. Another fine moment came late in his career in DONNIE DARKO, where he played with his own public persona to great effect.

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