Road House (1989) (part 9 of 15)
Cut to outside the bar, as Jimmy drags Super Platinum Slut outside to the Eagle sedan. And it appears that wherever the Eagle sedan goes, so goes the big monster truck. Four men disembark from the monster truck, wearing clothes that are a bit too preppy for the Double Deuce. Not to mention, a bit too preppy for being Brad Wesley’s goons, which is what I presume they are. There can’t be two guys with Bigfoot monster trucks in this town, can there?
They head towards the bar, and I strongly suspect that what they are currently up to might be discussed in the layperson’s parlance as “no damn good”.
Back in the bar, it’s like thunder and lightning. The way Carrie-Ann and Jeff Healey love each other is frightening. They’re both deeply convinced that they should knock-knock-knock-knock on wood. The four Monster Truckian Prepsters enter the bar, and Dalton immediately tells Fat Bouncer, “Right boot.”
A close-up shows the right boot of one of the prepsters, and indeed, there’s a sharp, glistening blade sticking out of the toe of the boot [!]. Is this really the kind of stuff guys at hick bars do? Imitate SPECTRE? Wouldn’t it be easier to just put a knife in your pocket? I mean, it’s not like they’re frisking people at the front door. And to make it all the more obvious, a bright light passes over the blade, causing it to shimmer and glow. I’m surprised there’s no little bell noise provided by the Foley guys.
Dalton goes to confront the foursome, and like a well-oiled machine, he’s automatically backed up by three of his bouncers. Dalton takes an interesting tack here. Instead of simply telling them their business isn’t wanted, he says that the place is “closed”. [?]
Dalton: Drinking and having a good time.
Right Boot: Well, that’s why we’re here.
Seems reasonable enough. Unfortunately, he chooses to prove this point by lunging at Dalton with his knife-boot. You know, I don’t think is helping your case, bud.
Dalton somehow grabs the guy’s foot and lifts it up to the level of his own shoulder. A loud crack is dubbed in (you’d think Dalton broke the guy’s ankle, but that turns out not to be the case). And then Dalton offers forth what might sound, at first blush, like the greatest line ever. And it’s true, in a lesser movie, this would be the greatest line in that particular movie. But here, it’s only the latest in a long string of legendary slogans.
A quick brawl breaks out, and Dalton’s men swiftly get the troublemakers outside. And it turns out this is the one and only time in the whole movie where Dalton actually obeys his own “take it outside” rule. The Deuceian Bouncers pummel the preppy guys into submission, and Dalton even removes Right Boot’s knife boot and tosses it away, to god knows where.
Just then, a hot blonde shows up, and winces at all the ass-kicking going on around her. Or perhaps she’s wincing at her own dress, which seems to be made from a picnic tablecloth.
Soon, the entire staff of the Double Deuce are out watching the fight. Carrie-Ann and another waitress cheer Dalton on as he whoops some ass. Tilghman is there, too, watching with deep approval and respect in his eyes. Dalton even employs some Shatner-esque ear boxing before knocking his opponent out.
Just by pure coincidence, the other three bouncers finish up their fights at nearly the exact same moment. And wouldn’t you know it, the band finishes playing “Knock on Wood” right at that moment! Good timing, too, especially considering the lead singer already ran off stage so she could go outside and watch a fight.
As the four prepsters scamper off to lick their wounds, Dalton reveals the key to his bar brawl success, to anyone who will listen.
Oh, Dalton, you don’t have to justify your fighting technique to us. You had us at “prescribed response”.
It’ll be clear later that these guys are indeed Brad Wesley’s goons. So, what exactly were they trying to accomplish just now? I suppose they came to intimidate Dalton, but if so, they just did a piss-poor job of it.
Then Dalton spots the girl in the picnic tablecloth dress. It turns out this is Dr. Clay, minus the austere braids and SJR glasses. True confession time: The first time I watched this movie, I had no idea that the hot blonde and Dr. Clay were the same person. Honestly!
Several factors were to blame for this. One was that I was relatively drunk at the time. But another factor is Dalton and Clay’s dialogue, which is completely generic. By which I mean, Dalton could easily be speaking these lines to pretty much any hot chick he was meeting for the first time. You think he’d say something like, “Hey, you look a lot better without the stethoscope,” or she might say, “How are those staples holding?” Or something similarly pithy to let us in on the fact that this is Dr. Clay.
But, no. Instead, drunk people like me end up completely lost. That is to say, I’m talking about me seeing this movie for the first time. Not me now. Okay, fine. I’m drunk now. Are you happy? Actually, I’m not sure if I’ve ever watched this film sober.
Cut to a diner with neon signs out front. Dalton and Dr. Clay (and, no, they haven’t told us her first name yet, and yes, you should get used to her not having a first name for a while) share a pot of coffee. I’m gonna cut to the chase here and jump right to the memorable quotes from Dalton about his chosen career. Because, really, they’re the only reason to watch about 90% of in this movie. Ready? Here we go:
Uhhh… Okay, I guess that wasn’t such a good one. It doesn’t make much sense, either. The caption tries to clarify this as “not much of a problem to someone who’s ready for them,” but Swayze says “as”. He stutters a bit, so I guess he flubbed the line.
After Dalton takes a moment to get up and make sure a drunk on a barstool doesn’t fall over (awww!), they continue apace:
Dalton: Somebody’s gotta pay somebody to do it.
Well, I guess so. Pardon me for not being bowled over by the brilliance of this.
Dr. Clay: I know you’re not a nice guy.
Oh yeah, she wants some. As they get up to leave, the owner of the diner gets testy about the drunk guy sleeping on the stool.
Dalton: [lays down a large bill] Tonight’s rent.
Great! And then tomorrow, he’ll back out on the street again! Thanks, Dalton! And I’m sure he’s not at all being generous right now solely because he’s with a hot chick. That’s doesn’t factor into this particular equation, no sir.
Cut to Dr. Clay taking Dalton back to the Double Deuce in her red Jeep. As they pull into the parking lot, Dalton sees his car has suffered yet another slight mishap. In this particular scenario, a stop sign has accidentally jumped out of the concrete and fallen through his window. Clay guesses this is the work of his “fan club”. Strangely, it is. You should see what the people who don’t like Patrick Swayze do to his car.
She marvels at the “life” Dalton leads, and he’s worried that it’s “too ugly” for her. But, oh no, she’s here to say that it’s not too ugly. Even though her dress is.
Off comes Dalton’s seat belt, and they share a good night kiss. He gets out of the jeep and pulls the stop sign out of his window, and gives that same weird, effete wave-salute as she drives off. What is up with that? I think she’s already reconsidering the second date, thanks solely to that salute.
Daytime. Emmet’s Hideaway. Dalton lies across the hood of his Great Buick, hands behind his head, one knee raised, looking skyward. Perhaps daydreaming about a girl named “Dr. Clay”, because he has yet to learn her first name. Perhaps fantasizing about smashing another knee. Perhaps formulating a grand unified theory to connect all the forces in the universe: pain, love, delight, and being the best damn cooler in the world.
Up pulls a familiar Eagle sedan, and out steps renowned goons Tinker and O’Connor. For unknown reasons, they’re here to bring Dalton to see Brad Wesley.
Dalton sits up, hangs his head momentarily, but goes along with them. I guess even he knows that a meeting between two men so perfectly embodying the concepts of good and evil is only inevitable. The two goons jump a bit, totally freaking out when Dalton hops off the hood, ready for him to bust out with more of that crazy tai chi shit. But Dalton simply gathers up his jacket and says, “After you.”
And then it’s off to the palatial estate of one Brad Wesley. As Dalton enters, escorted by the two goons, he steps into a foyer adorned with not one, but two pool tables. Somewhere, a stereo is blasting awful ’80s dance music. Thundering drum machines fill the air, whining synthesizers blare, and a woman does nasally runs on oooh hoo hoo like every third song released in 1989.
Dalton spots Super Platinum Slut in an adjacent room, doing aerobic stretches on a mat. She’s got on a leotard and tights, and I almost didn’t recognize her without her Hair Helmet. It seems she’s going au naturel this afternoon.
She’s stunned to see Dalton there, and she reflexively moves to put a hand in front of her face. See, she’s got a huge bruise covering the entire left side of her face. Sorry, lady, but putting your hand in front of a massive bruise for two seconds isn’t exactly fooling anybody. And between you and me, I think the makeup guys kind of overdid it (just like everybody else who worked on this movie). She looks like a burn victim, frankly. Regardless, this establishes that Wesley is a girlfriend-abuser, and not a nice guy, in case you still haven’t figured this out.
The goons bring Dalton forth, ever deeper into this evil labyrinth, where at last he comes face to face with Brad Wesley. Wesley is sitting in an enclosed patio, and throughout this entire scene, he’s eating breakfast. Comically, at no point in this scene does he stop scraping his knife across his plate (I’m seriously thinking the Foley guys did meth before this scene), nor does he stop stuffing unidentified food stuffs into his mouth.
He cheerfully offers Dalton a Bloody Mary, but Dalton’s not here for cocktails. Wesley then asks the very question that’s on my mind right now: “Will you shut that shit off?!?” The two goons leave and immediately the soulless ’80s aerobic music stops. Wesley says he hates this music: “It’s got no heart!” And I’m in complete agreement here. I’m not even sure that song was composed by human beings.
Pointless asides about the music complete, Dalton takes a gander at an old-timey framed photograph of a guy from the 1920s. Wesley says Stuffy McRichBanker was his grandfather, and also “was an asshole.” Despite the seeming genetic predisposition towards Richie Rich-dom (and being an asshole), Wesley says he still had to come up “the hard way, from the streets of Chicago”. Hey, now come on. He’s totally stealing his life story from Mr. T! Next, he’s going to claim his ancestors were from the Mandinka tribe.
Wesley says that when he arrived in Jasper “after Korea”, there was nothing here.
Wow! JC Penney? Well, at least now we know where Wesley’s goons shop for clothes. I wonder, though, what makes him take the lord’s name in vain when talking about JC Penney? Is that what the JC stands for?
He begins spinning a wildly grandiose speech about “destiny” and “faith in that destiny”— said destiny being to get as rich off the townfolk as he possibly can. In an attempt, I think, to send a “he who casts the first stone” message Dalton’s way, Wesley points out that Dalton gets paid to beat people up. “Tell me you don’t love it!” Personally, I will tell him no such thing, but Dalton just shakes his head.
So Wesley comes at him with the whole Memphis thing. The scuttlebutt is that Dalton killed somebody down in Memphis (or up in Memphis? My Midwest geography sucks). According to Wesley, Dalton claimed it was self-defense. “But you and I know that isn’t so, don’t we?” What? “Isn’t so”? Are we back at the turn of the century all of a sudden?
Dalton seethes, so I guess there’s truth to the rumors. But Wesley tells him to chill, and then goes back to the knife and fork scrape scrape scrape.
(According to Rowdy: “I think Ben must have eaten twelve portions of eggs during this scene. Pretty crazy.” He’s right, you know. That is pretty crazy.)
Wesley finally asks what it would take to get Dalton to come work for him. As he continues to stuff his face, and continues with the scraping of utensils, Dalton stands up and says, “There’s no amount of money.” Wesley’s face falls.
Ah, that Wesley. He really thought he had found common ground with Dalton there. He was so confident, in fact, that he merrily went on eating his omelet, utterly assured that Dalton was in the pocket. But alas, it is a working relationship that simply was not meant to be. Perhaps Dalton just doesn’t love denim that much.
(Rowdy declares on the commentary, “You know, if you look at any Western, you’ll find this scene. The hero gets called in to meet the villain, and the villain wants to hire him. And Road House really does have a classic Western structure; You could find the beats in just about every good Western ever made.” And a lot of the bad ones, too.)