When I heard tonight that Patrick Swayze had died, losing his battle with cancer at 57, my mind leapt immediately to Ghost (1990). Before Demi Moore's famous tear even finished falling in that movie theater of the mind the image was cross dissolving with scenes from other movies. I kept returning to Point Break (1991) in which Swayze played an improbable combo of surfing guru and bank robber and from which I nabbed this blurred screen shot.
I found it difficult to find a frame where Swayze wasn't in motion. Which, if you stop to think of it, is more than fitting. Dancing was his lifelong passion and rather serendipitously he became a household name by teaching it to the world (Dirty Dancing, 1987). His most famous roles smartly capitalized on his physicality whether he was throwing punches (bad movie classic Road House) fighting wars (the miniseries North and South) girlishly rethinking that lithe masculinity (drag comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar) or chasing big waves (Point Break). Even his name, Swayze, suggested movement.
Ghost, his biggest hit, was less physical but it resonates in other ways now. In that improbable Best Picture nominee he played a man who died too soon. He played that sad story in real life, too -- minus Whoopi Goldberg as medium. The movies will be his medium now, his way of staying with the world.