Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ghost, Dirty Dancing, and Uncommon Valor

Three movies that featured Patrick Swayze.

Most anyone who knows his work has likely seen the first two I mention in the title of this post. They are both “chick flicks” in the most stereotypical sense. The third, however, is not.

If you’re not familiar with the movie “Uncommon Valor”, it was first released in 1983 and starred Gene Hackman. His character was a retired Marine colonel who was trying to find his son, officially listed as Missing in Action but suspected to be in a Prisoner of War camp in Laos. Robert Stack plays a wealthy oil executive who also has a son thought to be held in Laos after the war, and he and the Hackman character put together a plan to find them both.

Among others who were in the cast of this film were Fred Ward, Harold Johnson, Randall “Tex” Cobb (he was an incredible kick-boxer), and a very young-looking Patrick Swayze. The premise is that Hackman’s character put together a team of men, most of whom had been members of his son’s platoon in Vietnam, and trained them to go on a search-and-rescue mission. Swayze’s character was the odd-man out in that he wasn’t a member of the platoon, and he was by far the youngest member of this team. He was there, however, because he wanted to find his father, a fighter pilot shot down over North Vietnam and also listed as Missing in Action.

While not technically accurate in much of the portrayal, it was actually a heart-wrenching story. I remember having to wipe my eyes at a couple of different scenes in this movie. The following is one of them.

While Swayze wasn’t a main character in this film per se – the cast was more like an ensemble – you could see where he had talent and potential, even here. It doesn’t matter that Tex Cobb’s character, Sailor, beat him into the ground; it was all about trying to find out why Kevin - his character - was there. The answer to this question is made clear at the end of the scene.

You might be asking yourself why I chose to post this clip instead of talking about other successful roles that Swayze had over the span of his career. Well, this was the first role I ever saw him act in. And as I had thought about how he lived his life and handled the cancer diagnosis that ultimately killed him, I thought that, under the circumstances, a fight was appropriate.

And as I said, “Uncommon Valor” was no chick flick.

Rest in Peace, Patrick Swayze (1952-2009).


Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

He tackled his illness with such bravery, humility and dignity.

Memory eternal.....

Susie Hemingway said...

Although as you rightly say Walt, the two most well known flims that Patrick Swayze starred in were indeed flick-chicks. They gave much pleasure to many, he was indeed a very fine actor often I felt underated. I was very saddened to hear of his untimely death at - by todays standards - a young age. I was just 'posting' my latest poem ( thank you for your nice comment)at just the time he was passing - strange coincidence that it was one about dancing! RIP Mr Swayze.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

thank you so much for your comment on my post about my brother. It is exactly what I needed to be reminded of at the moment.

I have printed it out so I can pin it up and look at it frequently when things get tough.

HJSLT said...

I first saw Patrick Swayze in The Outsiders. After the movie, all my friends were asking who that cute guy was. I said it was Patrick Swayze and they replied' "Who?". I was a fan of his when he danced for the Joffery and Elliot Feld Ballet companies. Thus it was no surprise to me to see his moves in Dirty Dancing. He showed grace when I first saw him dance in the late '70s, he showed grace in DD, and he showed grace to the very end. A class act all the way, we are poorer for the work we will not see.

MacLifer said...

Wow, what a powerful clip. I think you chose a fantastic one to showcase the incredible talent the man already was when he did that movie - much less all that he accomplished since than in a life cut short. That had me a bit emotional too!