Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: John Hughes

Thursday, August 6, 2009

John Hughes

Not many directors become household names. Kubrick is one. Hitchcock is another. Lynch is a third. They of course belong to the pantheon of directors who are known to the public by just one name. But then there's a second tier known to the masses by their full name, and that name usually connotes a subgenre of a sort, the way Michael Mann's name evokes "stylish thriller". For people of my generation, John Hughes was such a director, his name before a movie title implying that the film would be a teen comedy. And though I'd be the last to elect Hughes to any pantheon, one can't escape that his short filmography captured the wit and wisdom of misfit teens, outsiders with who his young audience identified, and portrayed them far more realistically than they had been in the eighties teen sex comedies that preceded his arrival. A writer for the hallowed National Lampoon Magazine, the story which got him onto the staff, "Vacation '58," was the basis for his script for National Lampoon's Vacation (1983). A year later he was directing repertory actor Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles, and a year after that he was producing, writing and directing The Breakfast Club. The film's cast, which in addition to Ringwald included other recurring players in his repertory (like Anthony Michael Hall and Ally Sheedy), would come to be known as the Brat Pack, as would other actors of that generation that associated with them simply by extension. The Breakfast Club became his calling card for a long time because it presented Generation X's disaffected youth quite sympathetically. Rather than side with the cool kids, Hughes empathized with the geeks, outsiders, delinquents, and goth girls. And what teen couldn't relate to a misfit during their own awkward state of development? It was only natural that he would cap off this series of teen comedies with Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), a movie where the roles are reversed and the geek (Matthew Broderick) is finally the cool kid. After the minor success of Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), several abortive attempts to direct films outside the high school milieu, and great success in producing the highly lucrative Home Alone movies, led him to retire from the Hollywood grind, occasionally writing scripts pseudonymously for several comedic pictures including Maid in Manhattan (2002) and Drillbit Taylor (2008). He died today at the age of 59. Recommended Films - The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes, Trains & Automobiles

1 comment:

Ryan McNeil said...

Today is a sad day for every brain, princess, athlete, basket case, and criminal...