Road House (1989 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rowdy Herrington|
|Produced by||Joel Silver|
|Story by||David Lee Henry|
|Music by||Michael Kamen|
|Distributed by||MGM/UA Communications Co.|
|Box office||$30.1 million|
Road House is a 1989 American action film directed by Rowdy Herrington and starring Patrick Swayze as a cooler at a newly refurbished roadside bar who protects a small town in Missouri from a corrupt businessman. Sam Elliott co-stars as a bouncer, the mentor, friend, and foil of Swayze's character. The cast also includes Kelly Lynch as Swayze's love interest and Ben Gazzara as the main antagonist.
James Dalton is a professional "cooler", a specialized bouncer, with a mysterious past who is enticed from his job at a club in New York City by Frank Tilghman to take over security at his club/bar, the Double Deuce, in Jasper, Missouri. Tilghman plans to invest substantial money into the club to enhance its image, and he needs a first-rate cooler to maintain stability.
Arriving in Jasper, Dalton takes lodging at a local farm owned by Emmett. Handed control of all bar operations and hiring by Tilghman, Dalton attracts attention by having a quiet demeanor—contrasting with the tough locals. Dalton's "real" car is a 1986 Mercedes 560SEC with New York license plates which he keeps hidden, instead wisely going about in a used 1965 Buick Riviera that is repeatedly vandalized by disgruntled bar patrons.
Dalton is soon introduced to local business magnate Brad Wesley, who lives in a mansion across a river from Emmett. Wesley appears to have a stranglehold on the town; little happens without his knowledge and approval. In the course of cleaning up the violent nightclub, Dalton dismisses several unruly and corrupt employees, some of whom are connected with Wesley. After one particularly violent night where Dalton is forced to physically remove Wesley's henchmen, he suffers a knife wound. Going to the hospital for staples, he strikes up a friendship with Dr. Elizabeth "Doc" Clay, which develops into a romantic relationship.
Wesley summons Dalton to his home in a seemingly innocent attempt to make peace, but has an ulterior motive: Wesley would like Dalton to work for him once he extorts Tilghman's club. He reveals knowledge of Dalton's past by mentioning an incident where Dalton killed a man in Memphis, Tennessee, then claimed self-defense at the trial. When Dalton declines, Wesley begins an assault on Dalton's friends, including interfering with liquor deliveries to the Double Deuce. Dalton's mentor, legendary but aging cooler Wade Garrett, arrives in town after a disconcerting phone call from Dalton and helps him defend a liquor shipment from Wesley's thugs.
That evening, the auto parts store of local business owner Red Webster is destroyed by a fire after he refuses to give ground to Wesley's persistent extortion demands. Dalton, not wanting to exacerbate matters, allows Wesley and his men entrance to the club that night. However, Wesley deploys Jimmy, a violent ex-con and skilled martial artist, to start a brawl with the Double Deuce bouncers. After a brief skirmish with Dalton and Garrett, Wesley calls an end to the fight and leaves the club.
The next day, car dealership owner Pete Stroudenmire becomes Wesley's next victim when he also refuses to pay. As a result, Wesley has one of his goons, Gary Ketchum, demolish the dealership and crush four station wagons in the showroom with his monster truck as Dalton and his friends look on with contempt. Wesley warns everyone not to forget that Jasper is his town.
That night, Doc visits Dalton and attempts to persuade him to leave. However, their conversation is interrupted by a powerful explosion at Emmett's house next door. Dalton rescues Emmett from the blaze before his house is destroyed. He then witnesses Jimmy fleeing the scene and manages to intercept him. After a vicious fight, Jimmy points a revolver at Dalton, but Dalton kills him by ripping out his throat with his bare hand.
The next morning, Dalton receives an ominous phone call from Wesley, who vows to have either Wade or Doc killed by the flip of a coin. After Wesley hangs up leaving the outcome unknown, a badly beaten Wade staggers into the Double Deuce. Believing Doc to be in danger, Dalton races to the hospital alone, but she refuses to leave with him, repulsed by his increasingly violent nature. Upon returning to the Double Deuce, Dalton finds Wade sprawled out on the bar with a knife lodged in his chest and a note reading, "It was tails." In tears of rage, Dalton pulls the knife free and jumps into his car, determined to settle the score with Wesley.
Driving his Mercedes, Dalton speeds recklessly toward Wesley's estate. The car draws gunfire from Wesley's henchmen, but when it crashes, they discover the car empty, and the knife that was used to kill Wade stuck in the accelerator. Using the distraction, Dalton sneaks onto the estate and dispatches each of Wesley's henchmen, eventually coming face-to-face with Wesley himself.
Dalton gains the upper hand in their fight and prepares to finish Wesley in the same brutal manner as Jimmy, but decides against it. As Dalton releases him and walks away, Wesley seizes the opportunity to reach for a gun, but is promptly shot to death in succession by Red, Emmett, Pete, and finally Tilghman, who declares to Wesley, "This is our town, and don't you forget it."
The men stash the weapons away prior to the arrival of the sheriff, and proceed, along with a surviving henchman, to corroborate each other's innocence, with the implication that what happened in Wesley's mansion will remain a secret.
The final scene shows Cody, an old friend of Dalton’s, and his band at the bar performing "When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky", while cutting to Dalton and Doc enjoying each other's company in a swimming hole, suggesting that they do get together and Dalton remains in town for good.
- Patrick Swayze as James Dalton
- Kelly Lynch as Dr. Elizabeth "Doc" Clay
- Sam Elliott as Wade Garrett
- Ben Gazzara as Brad Wesley
- Kevin Tighe as Frank Tilghman
- Red West as Red Webster
- Jeff Healey as Cody
- "Sunshine" Parker as Emmett
- Marshall Teague as Jimmy
- John Doe as Pat McGurn
- Kathleen Wilhoite as Carrie Ann
- Terry Funk as Morgan
- Julie Michaels as Denise
- Anthony De Longis as Gary Ketchum
- Travis McKenna as Jack
- Keith David as Ernie Bass, the new bartender
- John William Young as Tinker
Filming started in April 1988 and took place in locations throughout California, primarily Newhall, Valencia, and Canyon Country. The filming of much of the "New Double Deuce" was done at the Cowboy/The Bandstand (which went by other names as well until it closed) located in Anaheim. The opening and monster truck scenes were filmed in Sanger, California. The Kings River runs between the two residences. The monster truck used was Bigfoot #7, which was originally built for the film. The scene cost $500,000 to film.
The film was originally released on VHS and then on DVD. In the United States Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer first released the film on DVD on February 4, 2003 with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and theatrical trailer as the sole extra feature. In 2006 a Deluxe Edition DVD was released with two audio commentaries including one with the director, two featurettes titled "On the Roadhouse" and "What Would Dalton Do?". Road House was first issued by MGM on Blu-ray disc on June 2, 2009. A second disc combines the same six special features ported from the Deluxe DVD. After being reissued numerous times in the U.S., in 2016 Shout! Factory released a 2-disc Blu-ray collectors edition with fourteen extra features with material ported over from the previous editions. New supplements include a ‘making of’ documentary with new interviews by Herrington, actors Kelly Lynch, John Doe, Kevin Tighe, Julie Michaels and Red West, a separate conversation with the director and featurette for the films music.
Although the film had lackluster box office returns, it did quite well on home video. The film also found life on cable television. Over time, the movie garnered a significant cult following.
Road House received negative reviews upon release. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 39% based on 44 reviews and has an average rating of 5.12/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Whether Road House is simply bad or so bad it's good depends largely on the audience's fondness for Swayze – and tolerance for violently cheesy action." Variety was critical of "a flat romantic attachment" between Dalton and Clay and wrote that its "vigilante justice, lawlessness and wanton violence feel ludicrous in a modern setting." Other reviews are critical of Swayze's role as Dalton.[clarification needed]
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2½ out of 4 stars and commented, "Road House exists right on the edge between the 'good-bad movie' and the merely bad. I hesitate to recommend it, because so much depends on the ironic vision of the viewer. This is not a good movie. But viewed in the right frame of mind, it is not a boring one, either."
When interviewed by Anthony Bourdain, Bill Murray lauded the film as unappreciated, with a complex plot and respect among actors in the film industry since its release. Kelly Lynch told The A.V. Club, "Every time Road House is on and he [Murray] or one of his idiot brothers are watching TV – and they’re always watching TV – one of them calls my husband and says (in a reasonable approximation of Carl Spackler from Caddyshack), 'Kelly's having sex with Patrick Swayze right now. They’re doing it. He's throwing her against the rocks.'"
Road House was nominated for (but did not win) five Golden Raspberry Awards: Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Patrick Swayze), Worst Supporting Actor (Ben Gazzara), Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay. The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.
The soundtrack for Road House featured Canadian guitarist Jeff Healey, whose band was featured in the film as the house band for the Double Deuce. Cruzados were the band in the opening credits, contributing three songs to the film that never made the soundtrack. Patrick Swayze also wrote one song and sang two for the soundtrack. The film's score was composed by Michael Kamen. A limited edition 14-track score album part of the Special Collection was issued by Intrada Records in 2012. An expanded limited 31-track score was reissued for the films 30th anniversary by La-La Land Records in 2019.
|1.||"Roadhouse Blues"||Jim Morrison,|
|The Jeff Healey Band||4:51|
|2.||"Blue Monday"||Dave Bartholomew, Antoine "Fats" Domino||Bob Seger||2:22|
|3.||"I'm Tore Down"||Sonny Thompson||The Jeff Healey Band||4:26|
|4.||"These Arms of Mine"||Otis Redding||Otis Redding||2:31|
|5.||"When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky"||Bob Dylan||The Jeff Healey Band||4:54|
|6.||"Rad Gumbo"||Bill Payne, Paul Barrere, Martin Kibbee, Sam Clayton, Kenny Gradney||Little Feat||3:30|
|7.||"Raising Heaven (In Hell Tonight)"||Willie Nile, Martin Briley||Patrick Swayze||4:41|
|8.||"A Good Heart"||Maria McKee||Kris McKay||4:59|
|9.||"(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man"||Willie Dixon||The Jeff Healey Band||5:14|
|10.||"Cliff's Edge"||Patrick Swayze, Stacy Widelitz, Bob Marlette||Patrick Swayze||4:01|
A sequel, Road House 2, was released directly to DVD in July 2006. Set many years later and telling the story of Dalton's adult son, it featured no one from the original cast and only a few references to Dalton (who was reportedly shot dead before the film took place). The sequel confirmed that Dalton's first name was James, which could be seen momentarily on the medical chart in the original film's hospital scene, but which had been otherwise unstated. At the same time Road House 2 was released, the original film was reissued in a deluxe edition featuring, among other features, separate audio commentary tracks by director Herrington, Kevin Smith, and Scott Mosier, which the duo had expressed an interest in during the introduction of the tenth anniversary Clerks DVD.
In 2003, an off-Broadway musical production of Road House was staged as a campy comedy by Timothy Haskell, as seen by its full title of Road House: The Stage Version Of The Cinema Classic That Starred Patrick Swayze, Except This One Stars Taimak From The 80's Cult Classic "The Last Dragon" Wearing A Blonde Mullet Wig.
Police training video
Following the death of Eric Garner, the New York City Police Department began using a scene from Road House as part of a mandatory, three-day retraining course for 22,000 officers expected to "be nice" under pressure.
On September 9, 2015, it was announced that Ronda Rousey would star in a remake of Road House. On October 12, 2015, Nick Cassavetes was announced to write and direct the film. However, plans for the movie fell through and the movie was quietly canceled in 2016.
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