Remembering John Hughes

hughesjDirector John Hughes hadn’t been on my mind for quite some time. My insanely large DVD collection is stocked with his complete collection of films, and I never hesitate to tune in whenever a Brat Pack movie comes on HBO or Showtime, but I haven’t brought up his name for a while. Then I saw the news wire spit out a headline stating Hughes had died yesterday. My heart skipped a beat. It wasn’t that he was only 59 years old — far too young — rather it was a sense that the rug had been pulled out from underneath my childhood.

Like any true-blooded American that grew up in the 1980’s can attest, films like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off set the standard for sentimental teenage fare. Surprisingly Hughes only directed eight films, the last being Curly Sue in 1991, but he wrote many more, including the popular Vacation films, Weird Science, Uncle Buck and Home Alone. All of these are must-watch movies for film buffs. The stand-out, for me, has to be his 1987 movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles as my father worked with Hughes on that production. He still considers Hughes a “cool guy.”

Deservedly, Hughes is remembered today by many journalists and film critics across the world. Here are a few highlights:

David Kamp, Vanity Fair

As huge and as popular as he got, Hughes never became cool; the ’80s arthouse crowd, besotted with the deadpan Jim Jarmusch and Alex Cox, tittered condescendingly at Judd Nelson’s nostrilly pathos and Molly Ringwald’s dewy exasperation. But Hughes made good, emotive mainstream movies. If you were alive and of a certain age when they first came out, they got to you… More

Gregg Kilday, The Hollywood Reporter

Although embraced by fans, Hughes remained something of an outsider to the film industry, which sometimes regarded him as difficult and demanding and didn’t shower him with awards. One of his few honors was a Producer of the Year award he picked up at ShoWest in 1991. While he worked within the studio system, he avoided Hollywood and raised his family in the Chicago area, where he also set and shot many of his films… More

David Hinkley, New York’s Daily News

In contrast to raucous 1980s teen comedies like the “Porky’s” series, Hughes films were sweet, often sentimental. Their heroes and heroines, who started out feeling like misfits, were rewarded for the basic virtues of good hearts and decency. He kept them from being simply throwbacks to some romanticized earlier age by effective use of realistic teen dialogue… More

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

Of all of his films, there are two that will forever be quintessentially Hughes for me: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” absolutely swimming in attitude, which captured brilliantly and irritatingly the kind of cockiness that you envy as a teen, hate as an adult, recognize no matter what age you are, and “The Breakfast Club,” life deconstructed in high school detention, the archetypes and the anxiety playing out in real time. I will light 16 candles and remember… More

Eric Vespe, Ain’t It Cool News

I’ve read some snarky comments about his output post-early ’90s, but honestly I think that misses the point. John Hughes gave us more great films than most writer/directors in recent memory and when he was on fire the dude was unstoppable. Name me another comedy filmmaker who is chased as much as Hughes is. Every teen comedy these days tries to capture the same magic he delivered time after time and none have come close… More

Michael Cieply, The New York Times

Some in Hollywood surmised that he had stepped away simply because, for all his successes, he did not particularly like the film business and its ways. He was known as a stickler for control who often tangled with executives even as he made their companies a fortune. Yet Mr. Hughes ultimately marked the business so indelibly that his name has become identified with an entire genre: comedies about disaffected youth… More

Alison Byrne Fields

For two years (1985-1987), John Hughes and I wrote letters back and forth. He told me – in long hand black felt tip pen on yellow legal paper – about life on a film set and about his family. I told him about boys, my relationship with my parents and things that happened to me in school. He laughed at my teenage slang and shared the 129 question Breakfast Club trivia test I wrote (with the help of my sister) with the cast… More


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