Film: Vision Quest
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).
Louden 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).
The 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.
New 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Music aside, I realized that my memories of the book superseded that of the film, and as good as the film still is, I liked the fact that Louden’s fate was one that I decided.
Download the podcast here: ‘Vision Quest’ with its author Terry Davis
Or stay on the mat here and listen to it below:
Our 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.