When I first heard the news that Patrick Swayze had passed away at age 57, my first two thoughts were as follows: Point Break (1991) and Donnie Darko (2001). Those were my two personal Patrick Swayze cult classics, the ones I own on DVD, the ones I can watch again, anytime. But the next thing I saw was a tribute on morning television, and the main clips came from Swayze's biggest hits, Dirty Dancing (1987) and Ghost (1990), two films I do not own on DVD and do not particularly care to see again. Then I looked him up and saw a cornucopia of other titles, ranging all over the map, including a bunch of stuff I had never heard of. There were two I reviewed as a critic, the awful Green Dragon (2001) and the very cool 11:14 (2003).
There was an early appearance, along with a handful of other rising stars in Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders (1983). There was a Golden Globe nomination for the campy To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995). There was a failed bid for Oscar glory with Roland Joffe's City of Joy (1992). There was a British comedy that seems pretty popular in England, Keeping Mum (2005). There were some cheesy 1980s action films, like Steel Dawn (1987) and Next of Kin (1989). Then, further down the list, I noted two more films of a different nature, Red Dawn (1984) and Road House (1989). I saw Red Dawn so long ago that I can't remember any of it, and I have never seen Road House, but they are on my radar as much-loved cult films in other quarters. From the looks of them, however, they probably fall somewhere between the "cheesy" and "so-bad-it's-good" categories of cult films.
But all this brings up the question... what kind of actor was Swayze? Was he capable of more? Was he capable of anything? There are very few like him in film history, the handsome tough guy with the killer dance moves; perhaps only John Travolta and James Cagney belong to the same club. He seemed like a good-natured actor, and always at least slightly aware of his own persona -- especially in Donnie Darko. I think it's safe to say that everyone liked him, or at least everyone liked at least something he made. But what kind of Swayze fans are out there? Do you like campy Swayze, cool Swayze, cheesy Swayze, action hero Swayze, tough Swayze or dancing Swayze? What other kinds of roles could he have pulled off?