Road House (1989) (part 4 of 15)

Tilghman heads upstairs to his office, actually having to tell his bouncers to pick up a guy sleeping on the stairs and escort him out. The Double Deuce isn’t a dive, it just has really lazy bouncers.

Then Jeff Healey finishes up his song to a mixture of boos and cheers from the crowd. And this crowd includes a shirtless guy standing in front of the chicken wire cage. No shirt, no shoes? No problem at the Double Deuce!

Jeff Healey says they’re taking a break to “drain the main vein”. One patron is none too happy about his use of cliché, however. The guy screams, “Hey, you’re paid to play! Play!” He tosses a beer bottle at Jeff, and amazingly, the bottle actually shatters against the chicken wire. Is that even possible?

And despite the bottle shattering before it gets anywhere near him, Jeff doubles over and puts on a really overdone show of getting struck. It’s so horrible, and so hilarious. This is a pretty good example of why blind people generally do not make for good movie actors. Which is not to say a blind person can’t be a talented actor, but in general, if you’ve never actually seen facial expressions, it’s kind of hard to know which ones look unintentionally hilarious on a movie screen.

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There’s laughter all around, while Dalton heads for the stage. And to prove just how tough the Double Deuce is, the song they play on the jukebox between sets is “Runaround Sue”! Damn! I’m telling you, you had better keep away from Runaround Sue. She will cut you.

Dalton approaches Jeff’s bandmates. They’re thrilled to see him, but Dalton quietly shushes them. This allows Dalton to sneak up on Jeff for this glowing exchange.

Dalton: So, you play pretty good for a blind white boy.
Jeff Healey: [a beat] Yeah, and I thought you’d be bigger!

The two share a hearty laugh and a manly hug, and you know, I still don’t see the humor in the “thought you’d be bigger” joke. But at this point, it doesn’t really matter. Just let the absurdity wash over you like a gentle stream.

In case you couldn’t guess, dialogue informs us the two of them have a history. They go all the way back to working at a “toilet” of a bar in Dayton. Well, it’s Dayton, so the toilet part kind of goes without saying. Jeff Healey shares with Dalton (and us) the assorted joys of working at the Double Deuce: “blood on the floor in this joint every night”, etc.

Meanwhile, Carrie-Ann spreads the word that the once-mythical, now-confirmed Dalton is here, in the flesh. Dalton! Superstar! Who are you, and what have you sacrificed?

And just like that, it’s time for another Jeff Healey number. This time, it’s the Little Richard classic “Long Tall Sally”.

(At this point on the commentary, Rowdy Herrington talks about how he worked hard to pick a real “spectrum” of music for Jeff Healey to play. Yeahhh. Right. As if it didn’t just come down to whatever tired, overplayed ’60s song had the most affordable rights.)

Meanwhile, word is still spreading in hushed tones around the bar that the man in the coat is Dalton. Steve and Steve’s Bud discuss how he “killed a man once. Ripped his throat right out!” Steve’s Bud dramatizes the event with karate hand gestures. Normally, you’d think this would just be colorful myth-weaving, but this is actually a big Remember It For Later Moment.

Caption contributed by Albert

“That’s, um, an interesting story about Dalton, but why do you have an erection right now?”

Now comes a sequence so bizarre and sleazy, and yet so not sleazy, that I’m not quite sure how to approach it. Among the tables, a large, loud man is talking, extolling the virtues of the woman sitting beside him. He grabs her breasts and says, “Ever seen a better pair of attitudes?” Attitudes? I could see maybe “talents”, or “attributes”, but… okay, let’s not dwell on this stuff too long, or else I’ll need serious medication to finish this recap.

Then the loud guy offers a truly unique deal to two other patrons: “For twenty bucks… you can kiss ’em!” Okay, what? This is like the bar for people who want to be total sleazebags, but can’t set their sights high enough. They have limited aspirations, I think. This guy can’t quite work up the nerve to be a full-blown pimp, so he settles for this.

One of the two men uses his outside voice to say, “Are you kidding?” He immediately steps up for a little breast-kissing. The woman unhooks her dress and shows off her bra, and the guy eagerly starts feeling up her fun bags.

Caption contributed by Albert

Sorry, but I really can’t add to this in any way.

After a moment, the woman’s pseudo-pimp gets irritated.

Pseudo-Pimp: Hey buddy, what are you doing? Are you gonna kiss ’em or not?
Pseudo-John: I can’t!
Pseudo-Pimp: What do you mean, you can’t?
Pseudo-John: I ain’t got twenty bucks!

Wow! He got himself a free feel! He totally saved twenty bucks on groping her boobs! I mean, how else can you touch a woman’s breasts for free? Please tell me, I need to know. The best part is how the woman getting felt up makes a totally overdone look of outrage at this. Like, you know, getting felt up by a stranger for twenty bucks is fine, but getting felt up for free? Totally unacceptable.

(On the commentary, Rowdy Herrington offers the following evaluation: “Obviously, I didn’t write this scene.” Oh, come on, Rowdy. Later on, you’re going to proudly take credit for a scene where Dalton rips a guy’s throat out with his bare hand. It’s a little late to be disowning the script. You can’t pick and choose elements of awesomeness. And then he adds, apropos of nothing, “But the picture does have legs, I gotta say that.” And breasts and ass, too. And I’m just talking about the men here.)

Anyway, Pseudo-Pimp doesn’t react well to this news from Pseudo-John. He stands up and shoves the guy into a table, starting a domino reaction where people at the bar get shoved around, too. Wow, lots of shoving goes on here.

The bouncers jump in and start kicking ass. But instead of beating up on the two guys actually fighting, they appear to just be randomly pounding on people. Soon, an all-out brawl is in progress. It’s a stereotypical movie brawl, of course, that includes several people with absolutely no interest in whatever started the fight.

Tilghman looks out his office window at the mayhem, while Dalton remains by the bar, calmly watching the fracas. Because you must always keep a cool head, even when you witness the following:

  • A fifty year old woman getting punched in the jaw.
  • Carrie-Ann using her waitress tray as a shield against beer bottles.
  • Captain Morgan body slamming a guy, and completely obliterating a table. (See my earlier note, vis-à-vis better ways to fulfill your job duties without destroying your entire place of work.)

Dalton, ever the Dalai Lama-esque picture of calm, hardly flinches as a beer bottle is thrown his way. And the best part is that he’s not even looking in the direction from whence the bottle is thrown, yet he easily dodges it anyway. There’s a growing body of evidence here that Dalton might be a Jedi. But more on that later.

Carrie-Ann gets in and starts kicking ass herself, and all the while, Jeff Healey and the Healeys continue plodding away on “Long Tall Sally”. At the Double Deuce, you can’t stop the music, no matter how hard you try. The random chaos is punctuated when some random bar patron, who thinks all of this is quite funny, gets a beer bottle thrown in his face. Not even bemused detachment can keep you out of the fray, it seems. Tilghman, nonchalant, simply beckons to Dalton from his office window, and the scene ends.

In the aftermath of the fight, bouncers sweep up broken glass. Steve the Bouncer sits and puts ice on his wounds, and looks at his swollen face in a mirror. So much for his hot thirty-minute date tonight!

Dalton comes out of Tilghman’s office, and Captain Morgan yells at him, asking if he’s gonna join up with them or not. Dalton is evasive. This gets Captain Morgan even more fired up, and Dalton becomes the target of his laughing derision.

Captain Morgan: You know, I heard you had balls big enough to come in a dump truck, but, uh, you don’t look like much me!

Yes, Morgan is completely disappointed that Dalton doesn’t have a bad case of elephantitis. Dalton’s reply? “Opinions vary.” Wow! Morgan gets a pouty, puppy-eyed look, like he might just cry at the wickedness of this zinger.

Caption contributed by Albert

“No! Opinions don’t vary! Don’t say that, you lying poopiehead!”

Dalton gives a goodbye handshake to Jeff Healey, who’s apparently named “Cody” in this movie, in case anyone cares. I don’t, so I’ll continue to call him Jeff Healey. Dalton exits, and Captain Morgan walks up to Jeff a second later, asking about Dalton’s “story”.

Jeff Healey: The story is, you fuck with him, and he’ll seal your fate.

Damn, that’s a lot of smack talking for a blind white guy who doesn’t look a day over 14. Captain Morgan remains defiant, however. More on this plot thread as it develops.

Caption contributed by Albert

“The story is… I’m out past my curfew! Shit!”

Multi-Part Article: Road House (1989)

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