Reckless (1984): James Foley’s Feature Debut, Film Noir Starring Aidan Quinn

James Foley has also worked in the noir tradition, making old-fashioned movies–basically reworkings of 1950s formulas.  He has acknowledging his debt to Nicholas Ray and Elia Kazan’s youth melodramas, Rebel Without a Cause and Splendor in the Grass.

Foley is drawn to the working-class milieu, almost all of his films, (Reckless, At Close Range, After Dark, My Sweet) are populated with blue collar characters.

His stories tend revolve around a couple, usually a bad boy and a good girl, very much in the classic tradition.

Reckless, Foley’s first film, was a rip-off of The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando, and Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean. Treading the familiar territory of defiant teenagers, it also recalled in its contrivances and cliches more recent films, like All the Right Moves and Risky Business, both Tom Cruise vehicles.

Our Grade: C+ (** out of *****)

Johnny Rourke (Aidan Quinn), a handsome outcast teenager from the wrong side of the tracks, takes up with Tracey Prescott (Daryl Hannah), an upper class cheerleader, a straight-arrow coed. A random draw at the high school ‘Tin Can-Can’ dance pairs the two.


Theatrical release poster

Opposites attract: Tracey is attracted to his rebellious sense of danger and penchant for excitement, which is very much missing from her comfortable existence.

In the course of the tale, Rourke must come to grips with his estranged mother and recently deceased father (Kenneth McMillan), while Tracey is forced to decide between her stable longtime boyfriend Randy Daniels (Adam Baldwin) and Rourke.

The only new element in this neo-noir film is its explicit sex scene, which is performed to a pulsating rock soundtrack.

The soundtrack, which is the movie’s most impressive element, includes music by Kim Wilde, INXS, Romeo Void, and Bob Seger.

Greeted with mixed reviews, Reckless was moderately successful at the box-office.

Aidan Quinn – Johnny Rourke
Daryl Hannah – Tracey Prescott
Kenneth McMillan – John Rourke Sr.
Cliff DeYoung – Coach Barton
Lois Smith – Mrs. Prescott
Adam Baldwin – Randy Daniels
Dan Hedaya – Peter Daniels
Billy Jayne – David Prescott
Toni Kalem – Donna
Jennifer Grey – Cathy Bennario
Haviland Morris – Mary Pat Sykes
Pamela Springsteen – Karen Sybern

Directed by James Foley
Produced by Scott Rudin, Edgar J. Scherick
Written by Chris Columbus
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography: Michael Ballhaus
Edited by Albert Magnoli
Distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment
Release date: February 3, 1984
Running time: 90 minutes