John Hughes

John Hughes

John Hughes

Media mix discerner. Media editor. Part-time content marketer for kennysandhill.


"I grew up in a neighborhood that was mostly girls and old people. There weren't any boys my age, so I spent a lot of time by myself, imagining things. And every time we would get established somewhere, we would move. Life just started to get good in seventh grade, and then we moved to Chicago. I ended up in a really big high school, and I didn't know anybody. But then The Beatles came along (and) changed my whole life. And then Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home came out and really changed me. Thursday I was one person, and Friday I was another. My heroes were Dylan, John Lennon and Picasso, because they each moved their particular medium forward, and when they got to the point where they were comfortable, they always moved on."

Hughes's directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, won almost unanimous praise when it was released in 1984, due in no small part to its more honest depiction of navigating adolescence and the social dynamics of high school life in stark contrast to the Porky's-inspired comedies made at the time. It was the first in a string of efforts about teenage life set in or around high school, including The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off (see also Brat Pack) and Some Kind of Wonderful. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Hughes's greatest commercial success came with Home Alone, a film he wrote and produced about a child accidentally left behind when his family goes away for Christmas, forcing him to protect himself and his house from a pair of inept burglars. Home Alone was the top-grossing film of 1990 and remains the most successful live-action family comedy of all time. He followed up with the sequels Home Alone 2: Lost in New York in 1992 and Home Alone 3 in 1997. Some of the subsequent films he wrote and produced during this time also contained elements of the Home Alone formula, including the successful Dennis the Menace (1993) and the box office flop Baby's Day Out (1994). (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

"National Lampoon's The History of Ohio from the Dawn of Time Until the End of the Universe a.k.a. National Lampoon's Dacron, OH (1980)". Prettyinpodcast.com. Retrieved May 26, 2016. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Goldstein, Patrick (March 24, 2008). "John Hughes' imprint remains. He's still revered in Hollywood, but whatever happened to the king of the teens?". Los Angeles Times. (Source: en.wikipedia.org O'Donnell, Maureen (September 24, 2019). "Nancy Hughes, inspiration, trusted adviser and wife of filmmaker John Hughes, has died at 68". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 23, 2021. (Source:en.wikipedia.org))

Hughes played primarily as a central defender for several clubs, including Falkirk (two spells), Celtic, Hibernian and Ayr United. Towards the end of his playing career, Hughes took on coaching responsibilities, and was appointed manager of Falkirk in 2003 (initially as co-manager with Owen Coyle). Hughes guided the club to promotion to the Scottish Premier League and a Scottish Cup Final during his time in charge. He eventually left Falkirk to take up the managerial role at Hibernian in 2009, but left by mutual consent after sixteen months. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

theatrical production, the planning, rehearsal, and presentation of a work. Such a work is presented to an audience at a particular time and place by live performers, who use either themselves or inanimate figures, such as puppets, as the medium of presentation. A theatrical production can be

Earlier this year, the Criterion Collection, which is “dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world,” released a restored version of “The Breakfast Club,” a film written and directed by John Hughes that I acted in, more than three decades ago. For this edition, I participated in an interview about the movie, as did other people close to the production. I don’t make a habit of revisiting films I’ve made, but this was not the first time I’d returned to this one: a few years back, I watched it with my daughter, who was ten at the time. We recorded a conversation about it for the radio show “This American Life.” I’ll be the first to admit that ten is far too young for a viewing of “The Breakfast Club,” a movie about five high-school students who befriend one other during a Saturday detention session, with plenty of cursing, sex talk, and a now-famous scene of the students smoking pot. But my daughter insisted that her friends had already seen it, and she said she didn’t want to watch it for the first time in front of other people. A writer-director friend assured me that kids tend to filter out what they don’t understand, and I figured that it would be better if I were there to answer the uncomfortable questions. So I relented, thinking perhaps that it would make for a sweet if unconventional mother-daughter bonding moment. (Source: www.newyorker.com)

But I kept thinking about that scene. I thought about it again this past fall, after a number of women came forward with sexual-assault accusations against the producer Harvey Weinstein, and the #MeToo movement gathered steam. If attitudes toward female subjugation are systemic, and I believe that they are, it stands to reason that the art we consume and sanction plays some part in reinforcing those same attitudes. I made three movies with John Hughes; when they were released, they made enough of a cultural impact to land me on the cover of Time magazine and to get Hughes hailed as a genius. His critical reputation has only grown since he died, in 2009, at the age of fifty-nine. Hughes’s films play constantly on television and are even taught in schools. There is still so much that I love in them, but lately I have felt the need to examine the role that these movies have played in our cultural life: where they came from, and what they might mean now. When my daughter proposed watching “The Breakfast Club” together, I had hesitated, not knowing how she would react: if she would understand the film or if she would even like it. I worried that she would find aspects of it troubling, but I hadn’t anticipated that it would ultimately be most troubling to me. (Source: www.newyorker.com)

Portrayals of teen-agers in movies were even worse. The actors cast in teen roles tended to be much older than their characters—they had to be, since the films were so frequently exploitative. The teen horror flicks that flourished in the seventies and eighties had them getting murdered: if you were young, attractive, and sexually active, your chances of making it to the end were basically nil (a trope spoofed, years later, by the “Scream” franchise). The successful teen comedies of the period, such as “Animal House” and “Porky’s,” were written by men for boys; the few women in them were either nymphomaniacs or battleaxes. (The stout female coach in “Porky’s” is named Balbricker.) The boys are perverts, as one-dimensional as their female counterparts, but with more screen time. In 1982, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” which had the rare distinction of being directed by a woman, Amy Heckerling, got closer to an authentic depiction of adolescence. But it still made room for a young male’s fantasy of the actress Phoebe Cates striding topless in a soft-porny sprinkler mist. (Source: www.newyorker.com)

www.newyorker.com)I had what could be called a symbiotic relationship with John during the first two of those films. I’ve been called his muse, which I believe I was, for a little while. But, more than that, I felt that he listened to me—though certainly not all the time. Coming out of the National Lampoon school of comedy, there was still a residue of crassness that clung, no matter how much I protested. In the shooting script of “The Breakfast Club,” there was a scene in which an attractive female gym teacher swam naked in the school’s swimming pool as Mr. Vernon, the teacher who is in charge of the students’ detention, spied on her. The scene wasn’t in the first draft I read, and I lobbied John to cut it. He did, and although I’m sure the actress who had been cast in the part still blames me for foiling her break, I think the film is better for it. In “Sixteen Candles,” a character alternately called the Geek and Farmer Ted makes a bet with friends that he can score with my character, Samantha; by way of proof, he says, he will secure her underwear. Later in the film, after Samantha agrees to help the Geek by loaning her underwear to him, she has a heartwarming scene with her father. It originally ended with the father asking, “Sam, what the hell happened to your underpants?” My mom objected. “Why would a father know what happened to his daughter’s underwear?” she asked. John squirmed uncomfortably. He didn’t mean it that way, he said—it was just a joke, a punch line. “But it’s not funny,” my mother said. “It’s creepy.” The line was changed to “Just remember, Sam, you wear the pants in the family.” (Source:

Hughes was a writer before all things; for him, the story came first. But after Home Alone, he just relied on that same formula, or worked on adaptations and remakes that already had built-in stories. In other words, there wasn’t as much to create, which might explain why his ’90s output just doesn’t hold up as well as his work from the previous decade. Hughes himself said he was disillusioned by his time spent in Hollywood; his post-Home Alone success gave him a chance to move on. And yet he hadn’t lost his creativity: According to David Kamp’s Vanity Fair piece, the hyper-prolific Hughes left behind hundreds of notebooks filled with new stories, some completed, others just the seeds of ideas. (Source: www.theatlantic.com)

Comedy writer-director Judd Apatow told The Times in 2008: “John Hughes wrote some of the great outsider characters of all time. It’s pretty ridiculous to hear people talk about the movies we’ve been doing, with outrageous humor and sweetness all combined, as if they were an original idea. I mean, it was all there first in John Hughes’ films.” (Source: www.latimes.com)

John Hughes may have loved women, but the happy endings he gave them reflected the limitations of his own conservatism and that of the time. “As the 1980s body politic sought to rein in the female body that had been unleashed by the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, so too did John Hughes re-inscribe that domestic ideal of remaining within the ruling confines of the family, of continuing to be Daddy’s girl,” Ann DeVaney wrote in the essay collection Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice: Cinemas of Girlhood. “In safe bedrooms, kitchens, school hallways, homerooms, and libraries, his girls act up and act out their adolescence, taking care of Daddy, wearing pink, not showing much skin, attending dances in school gyms, and being no threat to the patriarchal status quo of family or school. Hughes’s girls perform white, neoconservative teen sex roles and offer a powerful invitation to girl viewers to do likewise.” His characters were a contradiction, their non-conformity, their main attraction, ultimately subverted by a yearning to assimilate to the conventions of a decade defined by the mantra, “Greed is good.” And for those of us who were weaned on his films, it was virtually impossible not to be indoctrinated. “There were so many things in [Sixteen Candles] that were horrifyingly and politically incorrect,” says Haviland Morris, one of the stars of the film. “I think John Hughes got away with so much of it because the heart in his movies was so huge.” Thirty years on, however, we’ve dropped the rose-coloured glasses, and our response to realizing he sold us out to suburbia echoes Molly Ringwald’s response in Vanity Fair when he dropped her once she grew out of it. “It was very hurtful and it still hurts.” (Source: hazlitt.net)

John Hughes grew up surrounded by women and money. As a teen in the ‘60s, he and his three sisters moved with their parents to a wealthy suburb of Chicago where the variation in lunch money was divisive. “I always thought that was sort of tragic, and I still do, that for certain people things over which they have no control affect their lives,” Hughes said. In an essay for Zoetrope: All Story, he confessed that the “dark side” of his “middle-class middle-American suburban life” was nothing more than disappointment. “It bothers me if even one person comes out of that theater and says ‘John Hughes is a jerk because I paid $7.50 and look what I got,’” he told The New York Times in 1991. As a teenager he was a disappointment not only because he wasn’t as rich as the trust funders, but because he was an arty kid in a jock school. Feeling like the perpetual outsider, his first success was marrying the school’s ultimate insider, blond cheerleader Nancy Ludwig. His second success was building a family with her, and his third was supporting them by becoming an ad man. “It was the only way I could keep my wife and kids in food and heat,” he told the Chicago Tribune, “while still being somewhat of a writer.” “Somewhat” was an understatement: Hughes was famous for his prolific output, juggling marathon sessions writing humour for the National Lampoon magazine and, later, screenplays, with his day job and dad duties. (Source: hazlitt.net)

Hughes bought into the lacquered lie of the wonderful life, that no matter your circumstances, the system allows you to succeed if you put in the work. And success is not so much independence as it is wealth and power. The heroines in both Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink end up with boyfriends who are richer, more popular and supposedly better looking than them. And by conforming to conventional beauty standards, The Breakfast Club’s outcast ups her social cachet with a popular athlete (while the older kook in Pretty in Pink bags a rich husband). As Weiss wrote, “[Hughes’s] portrayals of down-and-out youth rebellion had more to do with celebrating the moral victory of the underdog than with championing the underprivileged.” In an interview with the Times in 2004, Ringwald defended this contradiction—underdog embracing top dog—contending that the films were “Cinderella stories, and if Cinderella doesn’t get Prince Charming in the end, it’s a bit of a bummer, don’t you think?” Except that Hughes did not present his heroines as fairy princesses, he presented them as everywomen. And the moral of the story seemed to be that every woman, no matter who she is, no matter how unconventional she may be, wants to end up with Jake Ryan. (Source: hazlitt.net)

“When you hear a lot of people talk about how John Hughes respected teens,” Diamond says, “I think it really stems a lot from Molly first.” Legend has it that Hughes’s work at the National Lampoon—which attracted Hollywood attention—got him into the International Creative Management talent agency where, in pre-production on The Breakfast Club, he received a stack of headshots of their clients, including Molly Ringwald. “From what I heard from him, he put my headshot on the bulletin board by his desk and wrote Sixteen Candles over a weekend,” the actress told VF. “And when it came time to cast it, he said, ‘I want to meet her: that girl.’” But Hildy Gottlieb, Ringwald’s agent at the time, remembers it differently. Her boss, Jeff Berg, represented Hughes and asked Gottlieb to help his client cast his films. “I met with John, he gave me a shopping bag full of scripts,” she says. Gottlieb ended up reading two: Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. “I said to John, ‘This young girl [Ringwald] would be great in these, why don’t you sit down with her? So he did.” (Source: hazlitt.net)

Ringwald started acting on stage at age five and a year later she had appeared on a jazz album with her father’s band. After a brief stint on television—Diff’rent Strokes, Facts of Life—her first film came along in 1982, Paul Mazursky’s The Tempest, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe. Being a professional at 13 seemed natural to her. She had grown up with a stay-at-home mom who felt “obsolete” and encouraged her kids to do differently. “It was always the idea that you will take care of yourself. You will never need a man to take care of you.” Ringwald told The Los Angeles Times. “It was drummed into my head.” (Source: hazlitt.net)


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