John Hughes | 02.18.50 – 08.06.09

hughes.jpgWhile many films and TV shows of the era pandered to teens, Hughes simply listened to them, respected them and understood them – especially those who felt misunderstood.






Don’t You Forget About Him

Much like the passing of Michael Jackson last month, I felt compelled today to write a few words about another fallen artist who had just as indelible an impact on my youth, writer/director/producer John Hughes. With films like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, Weird Science, and Some Kind of Wonderful, Hughes spoke to "Generation X" in a way that no one else could touch – forever leaving his mark on all of us. When I heard of his passing yesterday, it was like a little part of my soul went with him. 

I was fourteen in 1984 when Sixteen Candles came out. I clearly remember seeing it at the movie theater with friends and my sides literally aching from laughter. I remember getting goosebumps from that final scene with the perfect birthday kiss between Molly Ringwald and Michael Schoeffling. I also remember walking out and immediately buying a ticket to see it again. To this day, I (and most people who came of age in the mid-80s) can recite nearly every line of this film. It may be the quintessential teen movie of our generation.

A year later, with The Breakfast Club, Hughes did it again, turning members of the so-called "Brat Pack’ into superstars. Balanced with equal amounts of humor and teen angst, everyone identified with one or more of the characters in that film. As the closing voice over read, "What we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal…"  The Breakfast Club helped us see through the high school stereotypes and feel like we belonged.

While many films and TV shows of the era pandered to teens (Saved by the Bell anyone?), Hughes simply listened to them, respected them and understood them – especially those who felt misunderstood. Led by the genius of Hughes’ great writing and directing, Anthony Michael Hall made it seem cool to be a geek and Molly Ringwald made it okay to be a confused, hormonal, self-conscious teenage girl.

Not only did Hughes "get it" in terms of the issues, the language, the actions and the style of 1980s teenagers, he especially "got it" with regards to the music that moved us. His films were interwoven with unforgettable soundtracks of the day’s most cutting edge music, deeply resonating with the MTV Generation. Songs by the Thompson Twins, Spandau Ballet, New Order, OMD, Oingo Boingo an David Bowie created the perfect backdrop for Hughes’ brilliant scripting.

Before The Breakfast Club, Scottish rock band Simple Minds had a limited following in the U.S. among the alternative crowd, but their signature track from the film, "Don’t You (Forget About Me)," topped the charts around the world, securing their place in musical history.

In addition to the cannon of teen angst films Hughes wrote and/or directed, he also penned some of the decade’s greatest family comedies including all of the Vacation movies, Uncle Buck and Planes, Trains and Automobiles with his friend John Candy, Mr. Mom, and the Home Alone and Beethoven movies. It’s quite an impressive resume, and when you look at the sum of Hughes’ work, it makes it all the more clear what a tremendous talent has been lost.

Although Hughes was a private man, who in recent years lived a quieter life far from the glitz of Hollywood, his influence has never waned, and new generations have discovered the humor and humanity of his art. He knew, after all, that "life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it." | Amy Burger

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