James Dalton (Patrick Swayze) is a professional “cooler” (i.e. specialized doorman, or bouncer) with a mysterious past who is enticed from his current job at a club in New York City by Frank Tilghman (Kevin Tighe) 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 needs a first-rate cooler to maintain stability.
Arriving in Jasper, Dalton eventually takes lodging at a local farm owned by Emmett (“Sunshine” Parker). He attracts attention driving his 1965 Buick Riviera and 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 (at a private garage and later under a car cover in his landlord’s barn in Jasper) because it becomes a target for disgruntled bar patrons.
Dalton is soon introduced to local business magnate (and next door neighbor) Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara), who 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 stitches, he strikes up a friendship with Dr. Elizabeth “Doc” Clay (Kelly Lynch), 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. 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 (Sam Elliott), arrives in town after a disconcerting phone call from Dalton and helps him defend a liquor shipment from Wesley’s thugs.
That evening, local business owner Red Webster’s (Red West) auto parts store 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. 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 thugs, Gary Ketchum (Anthony De Longis), demolish the dealership and crush four station wagons in the showroom with his monster truck (BIGFOOT #7) as Dalton and his friends look on with contempt.
Road House is a 1989 American action film directed by Rowdy Herrington and starring Patrick Swayze as a bouncer at a newly refurbished roadside bar who protects a small town in Missouri from a corrupt businessman. Sam Elliott also plays 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.
Road House (1989)
Directed by: Rowdy Herrington
Starring: Patrick Swayze, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliott, Ben Gazzara, Marshall R. Teague, Julie Michaels, Red West, Sunshine Parker, Kathleen Wilhoite, Travis McKenna
Screenplay by: David Lee Henry, Hilary Henkin
Cinematography by: Dean Cundey
Film Editing by: John F. Link, Frank J. Urioste
Costume Design by: Marilyn Vance
Set Decoration by: Philip Leonard
Art Direction by: William J. Durrell Jr.
Music by: Michael Kamen
Distributed by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists
Release Date: May 19, 1989