“Patience” – Guns n’ Roses


When “Patience” was released as a single in the spring of 1989, I remember more than a few people snickering about how Guns n’ Roses were jumping on the metal ballad bandwagon with “a little something for the ladies.”  And I remember being really pissed off at that assumption.   Yes, “Patience” is in many ways a departure from the onslaught of “Appetite for Destruction” and it is a lovely ballad.  But the song always struck me as really, really dark.  Not so much for the lyrics, but for the stark way in which the song is recorded.  The acoustic guitars slash (no pun intended) and sting at times and the echoey production sounds like it was recorded in a prison cell.  Coupled with the very public knowledge about lead singer Axl Rose’s often troubled relationships with women, the song becomes less a reassurance to an insecure lover and more about the singer reassuring himself that everything will be OK, to ride out the fears and insecurity he is facing with someone he loves.   Though I should point out the fallacy in making this assumption, since the song was composed by band guitarist Izzy Stradlin.  Still, In my opinion, the song is the best thing the band ever did.

Brilliantly used in Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake of “Cape Fear,” during a heated domestic argument between Nick Nolte’s and Jessica Lange’s characters that is straight out of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

“Cape Fear” (1991) dir. Martin Scorsese

When director Martin Scorsese signed a deal with Universal Pictures in the late 1980s to release his passion project “The Last Temptation of Christ,” I’m fairly certain he was required to deliver a commercial film in exchange for Universal releasing such a polarizing personal film. Well, in 1991, Scorsese delivered in spades.

Forget “Boxcar Bertha” (the exploitation film Scorsese made for Roger Corman in the early 1970s), “Cape Fear” is Scorsese’s ultimate balls-to-the-wall exploitation film. Granted, it wasn’t seen that way given the large budget and stellar acting cast (Robert DeNiro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis), but make no mistake, Scorsese’s remake of the 1962 shocker with Robert Mitchum is the ultimate Freddy-Jason stalker/slasher film.

Many Scorsese purists detest this film. To whom I say, f–k you! Scorsese loves ALL films, including the sleazy ones that used to play Forty Deuce. Legend has it that he got into a fight with one of his girlfriends, studio executive Dawn Steel, over the merits of the classic 1982 exploitation film “Vice Squad” (Scorsese angrily argued that it should have been up for Best Picture at that year’s Oscars).

Despite its disreputable pedigree, it did win Oscar nominations for DeNiro and Lewis. And it was Scorsese’s biggest box-office success until the release of “The Aviator” in 2004. I’m docking the accompanying trailer MAJOR points for NOT including the music from “Cape Fear” and substituting generic music instead. The music from Cape Fear (originally composed by Bernard Herrmann, but adapted for the remake by Elmer Bernstein) is one of the scariest scores ever composed for a motion picture. I’ve included a link to this score here:

Scorsese has always used music … especially pop music … effectively in his films. I wish I had a clip I could link to, but the use of Guns N’ Roses “Patience” during a vicious verbal fight between Nolte and Lange, while their daughter played by Lewis tearfully locks herself into her room, is brilliantly edited and shot.