' ' Cinema Romantico: Recommended Reading

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Recommended Reading

Before Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey ever swayed and shimmyed in the Catskill Mountains in "Dirty Dancing" let us not forget they bravely faced down enemy communists invading their Rocky Mountain hometown in 1984's "Red Dawn".

I think anyone in my age group (or at least any male in my age group) can vividly recall the first time they saw this film considering it opens with Cuban/Nicaraguan paratroopers landing outside the high school of the students to whom we've just been introduced. A teacher boldly strides outside to see what is going on and gets shot to pieces. In 1984, that scared the hell out of me. In high school, all I could think was: "If that happens at our school, I hope the teacher who goes outside to confront them is Mrs. Maxwell." (Ouch!!! Was that cold? Not too cold. You probably never met her.)

No one I knew really believed that communist invaders we're about to start falling from the sky in Waukee, Iowa. We all just wanted to pretend that if they did we too would rise up like the heroic "Wolverines!" of the film. (Taken from their football team's nickname, the Wolverines were a motley, ragtag group of students consisting of Swayze, Grey, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, and a pre-"Back to the Future" Lea Thompson, amongst others, who hide out in the mountains when WWIII starts and unleash a guerilla war against their invaders.) Of course, I'm not sure where we would have hidden out in central Iowa? The cornfields to the west? Or perhaps the cornfields to the south? No, no, no, no, the cornfields to the north.

But no matter. Sure, any male my age can recollect re-enacting Daniel LaRusso's dramatic crane kick from "The Karate Kid", but we what we really remember fondly is throwing a fake grenade (a pine cone, maybe?) at invisible bad guys and shouting "Wolverines!" (Not for nothing did A.J. Langer's character on the brilliant but defunct former sitcom "It's Like, You Know" greet Jennifer Grey - playing herself - not by commenting "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" but by hollering "Wolverines!")

In any event, with a potential remake of this film on the horizon Slate's David Plotz indulged in a re-watching and penned an article after finding some interesting parallels with our current situation in the world. It's actually a little disturbing. I highly recommend it.

No comments: