Swayze's 5 Finest Road House Moments
Spoiler alert: this post reveals plot details about Road House. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for. Watch the Blu-ray and come back here after you’re done!
I love Road House. It’s simultaneously a lot of fun and a lot of ridiculousness, and the result is amazing. It’s got so many great elements: there’s Dalton, the bouncer (sorry, cooler) with a heart of gold and a philosophy degree from NYU. There’s Brad Wesley, the perfect ’80s bad guy who owns the town and is a complete douche at all times for no apparent reason. There’s a sexy doctor with supermodel looks, multiple performances by the Jeff Healey Band, a guy getting his trachea ripped out with a bare hand, and Sam Elliot. I don’t really need to elaborate on why Sam Elliot is great.
In short, Road House has it all. And to celebrate our new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, I’m breaking down five of the Swayziest moments in this cult favorite film.
Nobody Ever Wins a Fight
There are so many layers in this line, and every one of them makes me happy.
While getting stitched up by the aforementioned unrealistically hot doctor, Dalton (Swayze) lays down some serious philosophy over the course of a few minutes. This is, of course, because he holds a degree in philosophy from the prestigious New York University — which as we all know is the natural first step to a life in bouncing. (Sorry, cooling.) When Doctor Hot asks if he ever wins a fight, Dalton responds with the thoughtful line, “Nobody ever wins a fight,” implying that he’s a bit of a pacifist and fundamentally against fighting from an ethical standpoint.
Except he chose a career in which he literally does nothing but fight people every chance he gets. He chose to hang out in the seediest of places in America’s underbelly in order to ensure he’ll be throwing a punch or two on a regular basis. Guess that philosophy degree didn’t help him stand out in the job market.
Pain Don’t Hurt
In the very same scene in which he inexplicably disavows the very thing he seeks out for money, Dalton drops probably the most enduring philosophical bomb of the entire movie: “Pain don’t hurt.”
I’m not even really sure where to start with this one. Pain, um, does hurt. That’s the actual definition of pain. It’s one of those lines that seems so wrong, yet you can’t help but try to wrap your mind around its hidden implications. And that does hurt (your brain). Maybe that’s what he meant?
God, I love this movie.
Dalton is a simple man. He chooses to live in a small apartment without a TV above a bunch of smelly farm animals. All he needs in a car is a pair of headlights that work and a trunk full of spare tires. He’s also not really into taking someone down with a super-snarky comeback, even if they lob him a softball. Here are two examples.
Throughout the film, when strangers meet the man with a reputation for beating the snot out of everyone he meets, they remark that they thought he’d be bigger. Clearly Dalton has heard this before, and you might think his confident half-smile hints that a real zinger of a comeback is on the way. Alas, it’s a simple response from a simple man who doesn’t muster up much more than “Opinions vary.” Though judging from the rest of the film, they really don’t vary much at all.
Later, after he tears a mean’s throat out with his bare hand, Dalton is dragging his victim’s body into a lake behind town villain Brad Wesley’s mansion shouting “Wesley!! Wesley!!!” The suspense builds: what kind of insane, clever threat will Swayze deliver in his most raw moment? Does he want Wesley to sleep with one eye open and one hand over his throat because he’s next? Finally, he delivers: “Wesley! #$%* you!”
OK then! Swayze is too cool for comebacks. Like I said, simple man, delivering simple cinematic joys.
If there’s one thing Dalton’s sure of, it’s that he can turn a dump like the Double Deuce into a shining example of an upstanding local watering hole. He tells a newly fired employee to stay on his break permanently with grim determination. He reassures the bartenders that things will get worse before they get better for some reason, which to me just sounds like a clever way to keep getting paid even if he wasn’t really doing his job. (“I told you it would get worse boss, this was the plan!”)
But most impressively, Dalton somehow manages to turn a town of angry drunks into a town of non-violent, happy drunks. They are in a tiny Missouri Hickville, so I find it hard to believe that Patrick Swayze’s mere presence caused a complete turnover in clientele with all the bad seeds steering clear. Yet there the Double Deuce is after the turnaround, with a shiny new sign, no trace of the chicken wire that once protected Cody and the band and nary a fist meeting a face. You truly are made of magic, Dalton.
The Throat Attack
Oh come on, I'm writing a blog post about Swayze's greatest Road House moments and the fingernail tracheotomy isn't going to be the main event? They spend the whole movie hinting that he's done it once before, so the payoff is that much more satisfying. And it's just one example of Dalton quite literally getting away with murder scot-free.
The only thing that was missing was Dalton staring into the poor sap's eyes and shouting, "PHILOSOPHIZE THIS!"