August 6, 2009

Goodbye to John Hughes.

Who hadn't directed a movie since 1991 — though he was only 59 at the time of death. He knew what young people wanted once.

Here's a list of all his movies. Surely, one of these had a big effect on you... back in the 80s. Let's talk about it.

I love this one:


Sixty Grit said...

Ferris Beuller's Day Off is very entertaining - watched it not long ago and really liked it.

P,T & A - that was almost a good movie, but it was just a bit odd in places.

In any case, 59 is kind of young, but he certainly achieved a lot in his life.

Anonymous said...

Admittedly, many of his films are among my guilty pleasures. I cannot count the times I've watched "Planes, Trains & Automobiles," "Dutch," "Home Alone," "Ferris Bueller," "The Breakfast Club," "Sixteen Candles," etc. His movies were great. Though I understand that he hasn't actively directed in some time, it is a loss all the same.

Joan said...

Wow, that link goes to a surprisingly long list of movies I dislike. I particularly detest all the Home Alone movies.

I recently watched Ferris Bueller for the first time in a long while, and Ferris is still an inexplicably charismatic jerk. Funny to see Jennifer Grey making out with Charlie Sheen, though.

Hughes had the pulse of our national culture for a while, I guess, but not mine. My tastes ran to Say Anything more than Sixteen Candles.

Unknown said...

It seemed like he directed more movies than he really did. I guess that's becuase a lot of those I thought he directed he actually wrote but did not direct.

I absolutely agree that he knew what kids wanted at one point. But I do think it was a narrower group of kids than we really remember. His soundtacks mostly targeted kids in the 80s who were listening to...WLIR, KROQ, the Quake/Live 105 or 91X. Though the movies themselves had a much broader appeal.

One interesting thing about his movies is that the "conflict" is often based on class, which is a topic we don't discuss too much because we're more often discussing race (for better and for worse).

John said...

I don't know Ann. By the 1980s I was long past the age when movies could influence me.

Ferris Bueler's Day Off did have some nice Chicago scenes. I remember Chez Paul's.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Wow. The only movies on that list that I have seen is Vacation and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. And seeing them once is more than enough.

I guess the big effect was that I didn't want to see any of his movies? I was in my 30's in the 1980's so that probably had a lot to do with it. I just thought most of those movies were dumb.

Unknown said...

Big effect? No. Entertained, some.

Revenant said...

Admittedly, many of his films are among my guilty pleasures.

At this point you really don't even have to feel guilty about them. I don't think I know anybody who doesn't love at least one of the first five movies he directed:

- Sixteen Candles
- The Breakfast Club
- Weird Science
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off
- Planes, Trains & Automobiles

There's no shame at all in admitting you like these films. Pretty in Pink, now, THAT might count as a guilty pleasure. :)

Anyway, I'm sorry to hear he's passed away. I was in high school during his heyday and he brightened my days considerably.

Jeremy said...

I'm a big fan of The Great Outdoors.

He seems to have written a lot of crappy movies later in his career under the name Edmond Dantes. When actors do that (and we say, "hey Pacino's just trying to make a paycheck like everyone else") they can't hide, but writers can. What's that about?

-The Other Jeremy

Jana said...

I'm 31, so these movies came out when I was just a little too young to see them, but I was nonetheless obsessed with them as a pre-teen. I know most of the lines in The Breakfast Club by heart, and can say them right along with the film. Not guilty pleasures for me, maybe that's a generational thing.

59 is too young. RIP.

Revenant said...

I was in my 30's in the 1980's so that probably had a lot to do with it.

Or they just weren't to your taste. "Planes", "Breakfast Club", "Sixteen Candles" and "Bueller" were successful critically as well as commercially. Rotten Tomatoes ranks them at 95%, 90%, 90% and 80%, respectively.

John said...

Guilty pleasures? Whatever. I don't get the whole "good movie" business. Either you like a movie, or you don't. Leave the critical stuff to graduate students.

Ferris Bueller, Sixteen Candles, Home Alone. Damn, those are a lot of good movies. This guy brought a lot of fun, laughter, and enjoyment to millions of people. That's no small thing.

American Liberal Elite said...

"Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." -Ferris Bueller

Freeman Hunt said...

We are all sad here at the Hunt house. Only 59!

Jennifer said...

I had Sixteen Candles memorized for years. I didn't realize so many of my pre-teen favorite movies were by the same guy. Sad.

TWM said...

I liked a number of them but I can't honestly say any of them affected me in any noticeable way.

Ferris Bueller and Christmas Vacation are classics with Christmas Vacation able to span generations I think. Other than that, eh.

Lem said...

Ease up, Dad. Any fool can get into a college. Only a precious few may say the same about Amanda Jones.

Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Peter Hoh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diana said...

Ferris Beuller has become an icon: teachers love to watch the Ben Stein clips during meetings. And the Breakfast Club, I must have watched it fifty times as a teenager. Oh, and Home Alone! He gave us lots of laughs. RIP Mr. Hughes.

chickelit said...

I loved European Vacation, a total chucklefest.
It sounds like Hughes could used some preventative cabbage.
Eat your niacin guys.

Methadras said...

I grew up watching all of his movies. I have them all. A great loss of such a great director/filmmaker.

Peter Hoh said...

I was in my 20s when Hughes' biggest films came out, so there's no nostalgic trip in them for me.

"Ferris" has some great scenes, a few memorable characters, but there's not much there there. It's a good popcorn movie. I.e., if you have good popcorn, it's not a bad movie experience.

"Trains, Planes . . ." is my fave of the bunch. It almost makes up for "Mr. Mom."

Cedarford said...

He had one decade of astonishing success. Sometimes that is more than enough. Einstein had his great work all come out in a 10-year span. Then coasted on what he did in the years around and especially in...1905.
Roger Federer will only have 10 or so years of major tennis success. Rafael Nadal, similar. Same with swimmer Michael Phelps.
It is a pattern that holds for writers, too. 5-10 golden years, then you are Norman Mailer being asked to sign 40 year-old books.

Sometimes directors stay great decades, like Alfred HItchcock. But sometimes great reputations in the movie industry can be gained in a quick period, even a single movie.
Harold Lloyd was on Turner Classics the other night. He had one decade of films made with the equally gifted Hal Roach. He was as good as Charlie Chaplin. Almost all his work was in one decade - the 20s. Best physical comedian ever. He retired in his early 30s, one of the richest men in Hollywood. Then painted, raised two families, banged starlets, did photography. He did what he wanted to do..he didn't HAVE to make movies.
Same with Hughes. He was set by 1989.

As a teen in the 80s, I really liked most of Hughes' films.

Thanks, John Hughes! 100 years from now, Home Alone and Ferris Bueler will still be watched.

Lem said...

I had Sixteen Candles memorized for years.

Dong.. Dong where is my automobile?

Skeptical said...

"How would like a big old greasy pork sandwich, served in a dirty ashtray?"

"Hey, Fred, there's your chinaman."

There are a million of them. RIP, JH.

Penny said...

I hate being of an age where the death of a "contemporary" has you thinking about yourself in... five, four, three, two, one.

There used to be a day when that would take...oh, maybe a minute.

ricpic said...

Planes, Trains and Automobiles captures a kind of loneliness that is, if not unique to America, more prevalent here than in other countries.

Jennifer said...

Dong.. Dong where is my automobile?

Ha, ha, ha, I don't even have to click through and watch to see "aaauTOmoBEEEEL HA HA HA HA" in my mind's eye.

knox said...

My sister had a film class in college in the late 80s. (She went to a small Liberal Arts school in Ohio.) Anyway, I remember her telling me how the professor had the class watch "Sixteen Candles," because it was an important pop culture film. See, John Hughes was the most racist, homophobic, bigoted filmmaker ever. The popularity of his movies was a testament to how horrible America was.

As a 15 year old, I had certainly never thought of it that way before. I just thought Sixteen Candles was fun.

Jennifer said...

I just thought Sixteen Candles was fun.

And that Jake Ryan was ever so dreamy. Am I right?

Lol. Wow, I haven't thought about Sixteen Candles or any of these movies in so long. Sad John Hughes died, but am enjoying the walk down memory lane.

Drop Out Coward said...

Cedarford said: “Thanks, John Hughes! 100 years from now, Home Alone and Ferris Bueler will still be watched.”

I agree with you about Ferris Bueler, but what about The Breakfast Club? That was a masterpiece and the blueprint to future successful Teen Movies.

Rest in Peace, John Hughes, smoking pot and watching your movies were our favorite past time activities.

Michele said...

I was in high school during Hughes' heyday -- some of my favorite movies.

I had Sixteen Candles (one of those 'must watch the whole thing' if I stumble across it on TV) and Breakfast Club memorized for years. Tomboys all wanted gloves like Watts in SKOW. Some of my classmates were extras in P, T & A.

Uncle Buck was on a few months ago, my youngsters enjoyed it. Not one of Hughes' best, but I love and miss John Candy.

Jake Ryan. He's ideal for sure, but forget it.

Zachary Sire said...

Jake Ryan was my first gay crush. Sixteen Candles is still one of those movies I can watch any time it is on.

And, Planes,, in my opinion, one of the best films of the 80s, period. It was not just a silly comedy.

MarkW said...

Ferris Beuller I can tolerate, but the rest of the list are like fingernails on a chalkboard. 'The Breakfast Club' has to be in my all time bottom 10 movies I've ever suffered all the way through (the Ally Sheedy makeover scene has to be one of the most predictable, contrived...gaaah! Makes me want to throw something at the screen just remembering it).

Now Risky Business -- THERE was a great, high-school movie from the same time period (also filmed in Chicago).

yashu said...

Sad, indeed. I too know Breakfast Club practically by heart. As an 80s kid, so many of his movies, iconic teen movies.... Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful etc.... resonated so well with the achy romantic emotional cynical alienated sarcastic awkward fantasizing chords of the preteen girl's psyche. And the music was so great. To this day, hearing some of those songs (say, the opening chords to Simple Minds' 'Don't you forget about me' ) brings back, in a nostalgic Proustian rush, something of the... I don't know, indescribable longing, romantic glamour, lump-in-the-throat, heart-expanding, complex bittersweet je-ne-sais-quoi of the (pre)teen-in-the-80s experience.

KCFleming said...

"One of the things that most bring home his time of life to a man of fifty is the increase of the rate at which he loses his friends. Some one dies every week, some one dies every day, and if the rate be high among his coevals it is higher still in the generation that, on awaking to spectatorship, he found in possession of the stage. He begins to feel his own world, the world of his most vivid impressions, gradually become histor­ical."
~~Henry James

...the world of his most vivid impressions, gradually become histor­ical.

Man, ain't that the truth.

Drop Out Coward said...

yashu said... "To this day, hearing some of those songs (say, the opening chords to Simple Minds' 'Don't you forget about me' ) brings back, in a nostalgic Proustian rush."

That’s because most of the characters were wearing Proustian Rush by Chanel :)

rcocean said...

"Planes, Trains & Automobiles" and
"Ferris Beuller" will live forever.

He even made Chevy Chase seem Funny.

The man was a genius. R.I.P.

PS - I miss John Candy too.

yashu said...

(LOL. I know, my effusiveness is kinda silly-- but I'm trying to honestly convey what John Hughes movies felt like to the 12-year-old girl that I was, me and my friends were. And I do find those movies really great, as (pre)teen movies, compared to what, now... the world of Miley Cyrus? High School Musical? How depressing.)

al said...

Hughes had a part in some of my family's favorite movies. Christmas Vacation and the first two Home Alone movies are part of Christmas here. The Great Outdoors is a summer staple (just watched it a few nights ago on vacation staying in the woods)

RIP Mr Hughes. Thanks for the laughs.

blake said...

Too young to die, for sure. I enjoyed his movies. Even some of the worse ones had very good moments.

I doubt he'll be much remembered in 30 years, except by those who grew up in the '80s and '90s, much less 100 years. But there's nothing wrong with being of your time.

I had heard somewhere he was so pissed that he gave over his most successful movie to Chris Columbus (Home Alone), he gave up directing out of disgust.

That formula served him well commercially, but I don't see a lot of people waxing nostalgic over three sequels, Dennis the Menace, 101 Dalmations--even Flubber and the umpteen Beethoven movies all seemed to be cut from the same cloth.

I hope he enjoyed his retirement; even if it was our loss, what a great way to live out your last years: Family, plenty of money, and at the age of 41!

Married to the same woman since the age of 20!

William said...

I saw all the Molly Ringwald movies. She was awkward and ungainly in an appealing way. Mostly when girls look awkward and ungainly they don't win your heart, but not Molly. Maybe that was John Hughes big talent: he could pick out the actors like Macaulay Culkin and Molly Ringwald who could play out the worst fears of childhood and adolescence in a winning way......All of his movies take place in a pleasant, sunlit world where happy endings are a historical inevitability. That's the world that unhappy kids like to think that they will someday locate and pin down.....Eugene O'Neill wrote one comedy in his sullen career. It was about the fumbles of a high school kid. He said that it was nostalgia for a childhood he never had. I'd bet anything the same kind of dynamic was going on with John Hughes. And then he died.

Fred4Pres said...

He did some very funny work. An old National Lampoon alumnus. I am sorry he is gone.

We lost another screenwriter today too.

chuck b. said...

I was in high school 83-87 when John Hughes movies were popular; we enjoyed them even though we knew they were silly--maybe my generation's first guilty pleasure.

A few years later, we derived a great deal of ironic pleasure from dancing like Molly Ringwald at college parties.

Kind of like these douchebags, but 20 years ago, and better:

Original dancing dubbed w/ 2 Live Crew here:

I'm Full of Soup said...

I don't normally pay atention to who directed or produces a movie. But I read his obit and he did some of my all time favorites! Home Alone, Planes, Trains, Ferris. The Nat Lampoon Vaation series.

God bless John Hughes. He gave me a lot of laughs over the years.

Anyone else notice he penned a movie spoof called:

"Jaws 3, Humans 0".

Unknown said...

All of this discussion is making me look even more forward to the season premiere of "Glee".

The Breakfast Club to Glee and all the High School portrayals in between: Ahhhhhh - High School dynamics NEVER change.

LoafingOaf said...

Planes, Trains is my fave of his movies. I watch it once a year around Thanksgiving! Like a tradition.

His teen movies were movies that every teenager in America (virtually) had seen many times and knew by heart, so obviously he had a special talent for reaching that audience. My fave of those was Ferris Bueller. The first half of Sixteen Candles is absolutely great, too (I didn't care for how it ended).

I think the movie Baby's Day Out is pretty fun, amongst his movies that don't get mentioned much.

Oh, I don't usually admit this, but the fact is, I got into my fave singer, Morrissey, because my brother had a cassette of the Pretty In Pink soundtrack laying around and The Smiths were on it. I bought a Smiths album because of that, and then became obsessed with Morrissey (The Smiths' singer) and have followed his music career closely to this day, and that has had a tremendous influence on my life. So, really, John Hughes changed my life.

BTW, the museum scene in Ferris Beuller has a Tangerine Dream instrumental cover version of The Smiths. :)

A lot of his movies stand out and are so re-watchable because they have such memorable characters. Even characters in the backround are so great, like the principal's secretary in Bueller. There's also a lot of heart and empathy in his movies.

There are very few teen comedies that are so beloved by people generations after they were made. If you were gonna list teen comedies by others in the last 30 years that can stand with the Hughes movies, the list would be so short! Someone mentioned Say Anything. That's one. Heathers is probably another. Not many to list though! But whenever I come across a Hughes teen comedy on cable, I never flip the channel.

LoafingOaf said...

BTW, we always hear so much about women and breast cancer. But look at all the men who are dropping like flies from heart attacks way before they should be dying! It's scary.

yashu said...

Yeah, it's a short list of great teen movies after Hughes... Say Anything, Heathers... maybe Clueless?

For me, the great high school fictions since that time were TV series: My
So-Called Life, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Freaks and Geeks. The last 2 especially, are even now (in my 30s) among my favorite TV series of all time.

Scott M said...

I didn't find out until a couple of hours ago.

...unspeakably awful. A huge loss to Gen X.

Kev said...

I saw all the Molly Ringwald movies. She was awkward and ungainly in an appealing way. Mostly when girls look awkward and ungainly they don't win your heart, but not Molly.

This might make you feel old (it did me), but are you aware that Molly is currently playing a mother of teenagers on TV?

Anonymous said...

While I'm a few years older than the Breakfast Club cast, that movie struck me deeply because I was the Anthony Michael Hall character.

KCFleming said...

It's pathetic I know this, but the instrumental cover of The Smiths' Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want in the museum sequence of 'Ferris Bueller' was by The Dream Academy.

KCFleming said...

It's pathetic because if you knew how much time I spent in indie record shops looking for it (obviously pre-internet, where such knowledge was rare for unreleased soundtracks), you would rightly think me a geek of the greatest degree.

I am deeply ashamed.
But I did find it. =)

Xmas said...

Uncle Buck is a fun movie.

"I'm Buck Melanoma, Moley Russell's wart."

Hoosier Daddy said...

Wasn't a big fan of Breakfast Club. Ferris Bueller was ok, he just was too annoying for me.

Sixteen Candles, Great Outdoors and PT &O are classics.

I was a teen in his heydays and honestly I didn't go for the teen angst crap, especially centered on a bunch of rich kids whose beef was 'daddy doesn't pay attention to me'.

RIP, 59 is way too young.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Speaking of classic quotes:

What was he wearing? Well, uh, let's see, he was wearing a red argyle sweater, and tan trousers, and red shoes... No, he's not retarded.

Sixteen Candles

J said...

I thought FBDO and Breakfast Club were overrated, but 16 Candles is one of the best movies ever made. If you haven't seen it, do so tonight.

"BTW, we always hear so much about women and breast cancer. But look at all the men who are dropping like flies from heart attacks way before they should be dying!"

Heart disease (not BC) is the leading killer of women too (

KCFleming said...

"Heart disease (not BC) is the leading killer of women too '

In general, about 20 or 30 years after men die of it, however.

Jack said...

Mr Mom was the best. Keaton's best acting job and the little kid and his "wubby" was a hilarious scene.

reader_iam said...

Have you guys stumbled upon this blogpost about John Hughes' correspondence in the 1980s with a then teen-ager he'd never met? In the blogpost, the blogger says she was told by Hughes in a 1997 phone call that he quit directing in part due to the death of John Candy.

Some of the excerpts from the letters in that blogpost are quite touching. If you're interested, click over.

KCFleming said...

reader, very sweet.

paul a'barge said...

This poor young girl is a raging, flaming mindless Obama-ton.


tim maguire said...

Ferris Beuller is the only one I didn't like. It's the only movie of Hughes' I've seen that didn't ring true in some way. Too over the top. But great early appearance by Charlie Sheen.

Unintentional foreshadowing.

I never could figure out how Molly Ringwald went from the geek of 16 Candles to the beauty queen of The Breakfast Club in 6 months. She didn't change much.

Sixty Grit said...

Movie magic, my friend, movie magic.

That, plus she is a redhead, which makes all things possible.

veni vidi vici said...

So today I was grabbing a sandwich in the coffee joint downstairs in the office building, while that horrid remake-for-the-film of "Pretty In Pink" was playing, reminding me of how a band can ruin one of their own best songs by turning it into Branson MO style wankerism, replete with... saxophone flourishes??!!! WTF was wrong with those Psy Furs a-holes, anyway? The original (pre-film) recording of that song is a thick, brooding asskicker; they tore the guts out of it and replaced them with those of a trampled-upon wind-up toy for the film soundtrack, and I never forgave their lame asses for it.

Other than that, yeah, those were some iconic films of my high school years too, and they really reached that alienated part of just about everyone's high school experience. But damned if the one film (can't remember which) with the Boston Legal guy wasn't hilarious -- he in the Miami Vice linen suits with shoulder pads like frisbees...

Gotta love the 80's, man. Wow.

veni vidi vici said...

"That, plus she is a redhead, which makes all things possible."

As Howard Stern once remarked in response to a similar statement, "upstairs and down?"

Sixty Grit said...

Carpet matches the drapes, and, as Bond would say, collar matches the cuffs.