‘Vision Quest’ with its author Terry Davis

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Film: Vision Quest
Rated: R
Directed by: Harold Becker
Written by: Terry Davis (novel), Daryll Ponicsan (screenplay)
Tagline: All he needed was a lucky break. Then one day she moved in.
Starring: Matthew Modineas Louden Swain
                   Linda Fiorentino as Carla
                   Michael Schoeffling as Kutch
                   Ronny Cox as Louden’s Dad

By Rob R.

Pre-screening memories: My genetic makeup ensured that wrestling was never to be a sport in which I would excel, much less even consider. Cursed with legs even chickens found sad and shoulders that extended out just past my ears, my physique was not one that would easily intimidate opponents above the age of 7.

That did not stop me from appreciating the sport in all its incarnations. From superstars such as Jerry “The King” Lawler, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka to the local meets at the area high school.

I participated in team sports — a stint in baseball here, a little lacrosse there —  but there was always something about the individual drive and focus from the sport that interested me (I would later find an outlet to put this interest into practice in the form of long-distance running).

vision-questLouden Swain was the jock I wanted to be. There was an earnestness, a sense of wonder, a sweetness to him absent from the jock stereotypes that populated many of the teen-oriented films of decade.  There was a sandpaper-like edge of realism to the film under that glossy marketing of it being “Madonna’s first on-screen role,” (though a certain soft-core porno later released would prove this to be false).

visionquestbookThe film prompted me to purchase the book on which it was based, only to find the pages held an altered version of what I witnessed on the screen. The book’s open-ended conclusion I actually found much more engaging, as it prompted me to fill in the blanks of Louden’s destiny.

madonnavisionNew memories: Red Rider, why you never made it big in the US, and yet Stryper went platinum will remain a mystery to me. Their haunting “Lunatic Fringe” (see video below) served as Louden’s reoccurring theme song with its ghostly synthesizer, punctuated with driving, staccato power chords. It was also great to see Madonna in her slutty-looking early days, with more curves and arms that did not look as though they were forged by a blacksmith.

Music aside, I realized that my memories of the book superseded that of the film, and as good as the film still is, I liked the fact that Louden’s fate was one that I decided.

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Download the podcast here: ‘Vision Quest’ with its author Terry Davis

Or stay on the mat here and listen to it below:

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terry-davisOur featured guest: Author Terry Davis

Terry Davis hit the ground running as an author and has since seldom slowed down, as a wrestling coach, college professor, columnist, biographer and motorcycle specialist.

Though retired from teaching, he is currently penning screenplays and contributes columns to his local paper.

His novel Vision Quest won immediate accolades, including author John Irving, who deemed it “The truest novel about growing up since ‘Catcher in the Rye.” Davis had much to say about the transition of his work from page to screen, as well as his time spent on the set of the film.

A big Natsukashi “thank you” to Mr. Davis for joining us and for creating a character that resonated with us for so many years.

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‘Westworld’ featuring Jared Martin

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Title: Westworld (1973)
Rated: PG
Director: Michael Crichton
Writer: Michael Crichton
Starring:  Yul Brynner as The Gunslinger
                     James Brolin as John Blane
                     Richard Benjamin as Peter Martin

By Gurn Blanston

Pre-screening memories: I first saw this movie at a matinee showing with my father in the mid 70’s. We had a tradition of going on Saturday afternoons and seeing films that my Mom and sister would not have enjoyed, The Four Musketeers, Scaramouche, The Pink Panther movies. I truly believe that this is the only Sci-Fi flick my Pop would admit to enjoying.

You see, he is a cowboy at heart. He has two 22-caliber pistols and a leather holster rig to carry them in, and took horseback riding lessons a few years back, just in case there was a sun set somewhere that might need riding into. So the idea of a resort where you could actually pretend to be a cowboy and you could even shoot people – well robots that looked like people – was hugely appealing to him. I admit that the idea was not unappealing to me either, although I was more interested is visiting Medievalworld and waving my sword at the kitchen wenches.

shootoutIn the film, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin, who looks a lot like a young Josh Brolin, are two city slickers that head to a resort where they can play at being cowboys and drink, gunfight and carouse with a plethora of human-appearing robots and other guests; a shout out to Dick Van Patten who plays the meek banker turned homicidal gunslinger. There are three areas you can visit, Westworld, Medievalworld, and Romanorgyworld. I’m not sure why the Roman area didn’t attract a 13-year-old Gurn more then the Medieval one did, but I’ll work that out later with my therapist. Yul Brynner stars as the black clad gunslinger robot, the original Paranoid Android, and they all have a great time shooting him full of holes. Afterwards, they retire upstairs in the saloon with some robofloozys while Yul is carted back to the tech center to be repaired so that he can appear again to be shot up again the next day.

yul-robot-faceSimilar storylines are transpiring in the other areas, but it turns out that the robots are a little pissed about the abuse and turn on the vacationers. Mayhem ensues as Yul tracks Benjamin and Bolin across the park attempting to even the score. Good wins in the end, unless you were pulling for the mechanical shootist, and the robots are controlled and eliminated, only to appear in the sequel Futureworld three years later. Michael Crichton wrote and directed Westworld, not the sequel though, and I remember it being my favorite Sci-Fi movie up until Star Wars came out and blew everything else away. I have fond memories of those Saturday afternoons with Dad, just the two of us seeing films together was very important to me at the time, and Westworld will always remain one of my favorites.

yul

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Download the podcast: ‘Westworld’ featuring Jared Martin

…or, mosey over here to listen online:

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Our featured guest: Jared Martin

jaredJared was the man in command when all hell breaks loose in Westworld, perhaps it was his character’s preference of ordering lunch while the robots began their murderous rampage. Regardless, Jared continue to make an impression on viewers on television, starring in series such as Fantastic Journey, as “Lusty” Dusty Farlow in Dallas, and, Martin’s personal favorite, as the lead in the popular syndicated sci-fi series War of the Worlds as Dr. Harrison Blackwood.

Martin is the co-founder and creative director of the Big Picture Allience in Philadelphia, a non-profit youth development media program which fosters an appreciation of film in underserved communities.

Martin has many a story to share, and we were grateful to have him do so with us in this edition of Natsukashi.

‘The Last Dragon’ with lead Chris Murney

lastdragonpsoter

Title: Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon (PG-13)
Directed by: Michael Schultz
Written by: Louis Venosta
Starring:  Taimak as ‘Bruce’ Leroy Green
                    Vanity as Laura Charles
                     Christopher Murney as Eddie Arkadian
                     Julius Carryas Sho’nuff

Tagline: He’s a martial arts master… oh, hell. Just read it on the poster above. It’s too long to write it again.

 By El Ron

Pre-screening memories: I was never the most threatening kid in school. I was no pushover, mind you, but I was never one to pack on the pounds. It did not help that I was never really motivated to put effort into developing a physique that would instill fear.

I was always looking for  shortcut.

I enlisted at the local karate studio, but the “master” always seemed a tad too overzealous for my casual approach to martial arts. Lucky for me, tutelage came in a much more entertaining package: enter, The Dragon. The Last Dragon, or, more specifically, Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon.

All I had to do was follow Taimak’s moves and I could attain my own “Glow,” right?

I quickly learned that more went into the martial arts than just watching Bruce Leroy and Sho N’uff battle on a loop in my VCR. But what I did glean from my multiple viewings was a fleeting love of DeBarge, a poor sense of fashion and a love for all the action contained within.

New memories: I had no idea of just how funny this film was. A lot of the broad comedy connected back then,but until I learned more about film, I had no idea on just how many levels this film worked for me. It was great to be able to share those memories with Mr. Eddie Arkadian himself, Chris Murney.

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Download the podcast here: The Last Dragon with Chris Murney

…or, visit the online listening dojo below:

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Our featured guest: Christopher Murney

Whether it’s his voice or his face, Chris Murney has carved out a memorable career on radio, videogames, television and film. He has won numerous CLIO awards for his memorable adverting work, perhaps most notable as the voice of Chester Cheetah from the Cheetos commercials. He television works included spots on Miami Vice, M*A*S*H, One Life to Live and was also a regular on the beloved AMC series Remember WENN for its four-season run. murney2In film, he has worked with the Coen Brothers on Barton Fink, Last Exit to Brooklyn, The Secret of My Success, Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive and the Paul Newman cult classic Slap Shot.

Mr. Murney was a great guest and a lot of fun, and we hope to hear many more of his tales on future films selected by our Natsukashi readers and writers.

‘Three O’Clock High’ reunion with Caitlin O’Heaney, Scott Tiler and Liza Morrow

three_o_clock_high

Title: Three O’Clock High (PG-13)
Directed by: Phil Joanou
Written by: Richard Christian Masterson and Thomas E. Szollosi
Starring: Casey Semazko as Jerry Mitchell
                   Richard Tyson as Buddy Revell
                   Jeffrey Tambor as Mr. Rice
                   Liza Morrow as Karen Clark
                   Scott Schutzman Tiler as Bruce Chalmer
                   Caitlin O’Heaney as Miss Farmer

By Bo from Last Blog on the Left

Pre-screening memories: When you announce anything as “high”, it can mean only one of two things – either you’re talking about your old school buddy who still lives in his parents’ garage, or you’re referring to the time of a duel.  It is in the spirit of the latter that we come to the minor classic Three O’Clock High, directed by Steven Spielberg protégé Phil Joanou and starring Casey Siemaszko.

The movie made barely a splash when it hit the local movie houses in 1987, but the movie quickly found a home amongst burgeoning cinephiles who had never seen avant-garde moviemaking techniques applied to the more commonplace teen comedy.

Boasting talents behind the lens such as director of photography Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Richard Christian Matheson, it is little surprise that a rabid movie lover such as myself would stumble across this film and find that rare diamond in the rough – a movie that transcends mere plot and character and becomes the cult classic. 

(Ed. Note: This podcast marks a first for us here at Natsukashi, in that we were able to track down Scott Schutzman Tiler (Bruce Chalmers), Liza Morrow (Karen Clark) and Caitlin O’Heaney (Miss Farmer) to join us for a little ‘High’ school reunion of sorts. It’s a tad longer (1 hour), but well worth every second to hear what the gang is up to today and have them share their memories of working on the film.)

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Download the podcast here: Three O’Clock High with Caitlin O’Heaney , Scott Tiler and Liza Morrow

Listen to it online:

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Our featured guests:

  • caitlinoheaneymodernageCaitlin O’Heaney (Ms. Farmer) Star of stage, television and film, Caitlin has worked with the greats in all areas: Katherine Hepburn, Norman Lear, John Houseman, Tom Hanks. In the 80s, Caitlin was ominpresent with a hit sitcom (The Charmings), hit adventure show (Tales of the Gold Monkey) and a burgeoning film career. Her role as Miss Farmer was one of the most indelible of the film.
  • tilerScott Schutzman Tiler (Bruce Chalmer): Sergio Leone, John Sayles, Speilberg protege Phil Juanou: these made up half of the directors young Schutzman Tiler had worked for in his career. He is now completing his master’s and coaching a new generation of acting talent. His role in Three O’Clock High was inspired by the film’s producer, some guy named Spielberg
  • Liza Morrow (Karen Clark): Now happily out of the business, Liza made her screen debut as the object of desire in Three O’Clock High, then went on to join the cast of Dynasty as Virginia Metheny in its final season. She is now happily out of the business, but was kind enough to relive her time spent working on the film.

A big thanks  to all of our guests for reliving their time spent on working in this fondly remembered 80s cult classic!

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