Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Movie: Road House (1989)

Is it me or is this movie playing somewhere in the cable universe at all times? That’s a sure sign of staying power. But getting a sequel more than 15 years later, even a direct-to-video one? That means a cult following. And I do hate to miss out on these things.

I’ve seen the 1948 ROAD HOUSE, with Ida Lupino and Richard Widmark. More than once, in fact. But the one where Patrick Swayze plays a philosophically-inclined bouncer who single-handedly cleans up an entire small town and flirts with lovely local doctor Kelly Lynch while she sutures his knife wounds was terra incognita.

Still, the unseen ROAD HOUSE has long been revered here at Chez K. Before Rosemarie and I met, we had both read the same review of the movie that cited some dialogue directed at Patrick Swayze’s Dalton:

“I used to fuck guys like you in prison.”

It’s a line the missus and I have fallen back on a lot over the years. I suppose I was afraid the rest of the movie wouldn’t live up to it.

Fortunately, it does. I can see why ROAD HOUSE is popular. It’s cheese that ages well, the kind of good, dumb, unpretentious B flick where an entire bar erupts in fisticuffs at the slightest slight. There’s some nice local color that doesn’t mock country folks, and Swayze’s goofy Zen demeanor works perfectly. (I don’t believe in guilty pleasures – if you like something, claim it with pride, says I – but if I did, the Swayze double-bill of this and POINT BREAK would be high on the list.) And that wily old pro Ben Gazzara even acts a little as the town boss who knows he’s destined for a fall, and who may be secretly relieved that the day is at hand.

As for the line referenced above, it’s even funnier in context. If you can call it that.

Music: “All the Best,” Glen Campbell

23 tracks may be a broad definition of “the best.” But “Wichita Lineman” is one of them, and that’s enough for me.