Tuesday, September 15, 2009

King of the Castle

I was in the 4th grade when Dirty Dancing was released, and based on the title alone my father forbade me to see it. Of course I saw it anyway (and bought both soundtracks on cassette, which I still have). When my parents, both ballroom dance instructors in the early Sixties, saw the film themselves, they, of course, fell in love with it. It's not every day a nine year old gets to "I told you so" her well-meaning, if slightly over-protective parents. The unlikely love story between wrong-side-the-tracks dancer Johnny Castle and Peace Corps-bound Daddy's girl Frances "Baby" Houseman blew all our little pre-adolescent minds and hijacked our innocent little hearts. I'd be hard pressed to find someone my age who doesn't still consider this film one of their favorites.Sadly, Patrick Swayze passed yesterday at the age of 57 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. I would expect the re-airing of a lot of his films, most likely the blockbusters. But my other favorite Swayze role was not the romantic hero of Ghost, the sensitive bad boys of Road House and Point Break or (despite my undying love of drag queens) in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, but the pedophilic motivational speaker in cult classic Donnie Darko. It wasn't a large role but it was warped, risky, and dark, and allowed us to see another side to a talented actor who was anything but a has-been.

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