Top 5 Movie Guide: Patrick Swayze

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we decided to use the remake of "Red Dawn" as a chance to look back on some of our favorite films from the late Patrick Swayze. Swayze grew up in Houston, Texas, where his mother was a choreographer and owner of a dance school. He took lessons as a child, and eventually, after high school, trained formally at Harkness Ballet School and Joffrey Ballet School, both in New York City. He first danced professionally as "Prince Charming" in Disney on Parade, and soon after as "Danny Zuko" in the Broadway adaptation of Grease.

By the early 1980's, Swayze had made his transition to film and television. He started with many side roles until he landed a lead role in the film "Dirty Dancing" (1987) as a dance instructor. His performance in that film eventually led him to the biggest success of his career, 1990's "Ghost". The film was the highest-grossing of that year, and even earned Swayze a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. Unfortunately, his success from that film did not catapult his career as many expected, and most of his films to release after were neither critical or large financial successes. In 2003, Swayze returned to Broadway, where he played "Billy Flynn" in the revival of Chicago. It and his performance were both considered hits.

In 2008, Patrick Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He fought the illness for well over a year, and even continued to work some while so, but on September 14, 2009, the disease became too much and he passed away.

It's always a tragedy when someone passes away, but in this instance, we're at least lucky to have some great works left behind from the star to help carry on his memory. Many of Patrick Swayze's films hold a strong nostalgic place on our lists below, and we're happy to show some of them off and pass along his legacy!

Alex Schopp -

     1. Point Break (1991)

This film has appeared at or near the top of other lists we've compiled. Classic 90's flick with all the right acting pieces.
     2. Road House (1989)
This film is more epic than "Point Break", but I'll take a good Heist film over a, whatever kind of film this is. You can't beat some of the great action in this film though, and I do love Sam Elliot and his mustache as Swayze's mentor.
     3. Ghost (1990)
The film always gets promoted for the love story present, but there are some really great, creepy aspects of the film that play out like a traditional ghost story.
     4. The Outsiders (1983)
It's cool seeing all the young stars in this movie before they were stars.
     5. To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995)
Mostly it's just funny seeing Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo dress in drag and the whole town buy into it. Only in the 90's...

Ben Foutch -
Gone but not forgotten.

     1. Point Break (1991)

     2. Road House (1989)

     3. Ghost (1990)

     4. Donnie Darko (2001)

     5. Dirty Dancing (1987)

Derek Clem -

     1. To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995)

Kind of funny how so many of the townsfolk never noticed Swayze's Adam's apple. Plus I love the nod to High Planes Drifter.
     2. Ghost (1990)
I don't think I'll ever understand the Oscar attention this movie received. I mean I love the movie and all, it just doesn't seem like "that" kind of movie. Even though I don't fully get why, I am glad it received the attention it did.
     3. Point Break (1991)
Sometimes I like to tell lame jokes, jokes like, "Point Break" totally ripped-off of "The Fast and the Furious".
     4. Donnie Darko (2001)
Swayze went to some dark and twisted places for this role. The dude can act!
     5. The Outsiders (1983)
Just an overall great movie and Swayze happens to be in it.

Nathan Hinds -
I never really cared for Patrick Swayze up until right before he died. Since then, he's kind of taken on this larger-than-life persona in my mind. I feel like he's one of my favorite actors now. Gone but not forgotten.

     1. Point Break (1991)

The guy was just the epitome of cool in this movie.
     2. Ghost (1990)
I don't know what surprised me more about this movie: how quickly I fell in love with it even though I only saw it for the first time last year, or the fact that Whoopi Goldberg won an Oscar for this movie.
     3. Road House (1989)
Outside of this group, when I hear people talking about this movie and how awesome they think it is, I can never tell if they're serious or not. I legitimately love this movie, but do most people actually think this movie sucks?
     4. Dirty Dancing (1987)
Why was I so against this movie for so long? It's sooooo good. Maybe because "Grease" is soooooo bad and it turned me off of anything that had dancing in it when I was young.
     5. Tall Tale (1995)
I feel like there aren't very many people who have seen this movie. I know I forgot about it for a long time. It's been a while since I've seen it but from what I remember it was actually pretty epic in scale. It's definitely an underrated family movie.

Andy Schopp -

     1. Point Break (1991)

This movie has always been one of my favorites. Such a great group and friendship dynamic happening here.
     2. Dirty Dancing (1987)
I'm sorry, I just think it's a good watch, so get over it all you nay-sayers.
     3. The Outsiders (1983)
Great cast and characters here. Its a must see for all people
     4. Ghost (1990)
Best love story ever?? I dunno? Maybe Titanic beats it.
     5. Road House (1989)

So there we have it. Some of the best films we see from the late Patrick Swayze's career. It's sad to know that we'll never have any other films to challenge these picks, so outside of the possibility of some of his earlier work not yet connecting with us, this is kind of the Top 5 list for Swayze. There isn't a lot of variety above, and for the most part, the films that received multiple selections hit pretty big. Two films this week appeared on all five lists, both "Point Break" and "Ghost". "Point Break" stands out a bit more, as it not only hit on all lists, but it also received four first-place votes, narrowly missing out on enshrinement. "Ghost" is the critical darling of the group, as it was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture (it won for Best Supporting Actress (Whoopi Goldberg) and Best Original Screenplay). Both solid selections from Swayze's filmography, and these both seem like quality picks to headline these lists.

One film, "Road House", received four votes, while two others, "The Outsiders" and "Dirty Dancing", received three. Again, all quality picks, each with something a bit different to offer. "Road House" provides the awesome/cheesy 80's action, "The Outsiders" is a great ensemble film with many young rising stars, and "Dirty Dancing" is a chick-flick staple - still good enough to endure if you're a man though. Otherwise, "To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" and "Donnie Darko" were the only other films with multiple selections, each having two. You probably saw "Donnie Darko" when you were 16-years-old and thought it was a life-changing film; for those generations younger or older than us though, maybe not. The hype surrounding it was a little excessive, but if you didn't experience it and still haven't seen the film, it actually is an interesting picture. And Swayze's character in particular is quite different than most we've seen from him in the past.

As always, we hope that each of these film selections helps you to expand your knowledge of Patrick Swayze's filmography, and leads to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!