Friday, August 7, 2009

RIP John Hughes

Writer/director John Hughes passed away this morning at the young age of 59. Over the years, Hughes brought us many great films and had the golden touch between the years of 1984 and 1990. During that time, he wrote and/or directed the following: Sixteen Candles; The Breakfast Club; European Vacation; Pretty in Pink; Weird Science; Ferris Bueller's Day Off; Planes, Trains & Automobiles; Uncle Buck; Christmas Vacation; and Home Alone.

After 1991's Curly Sue, Hughes altogether stopped directing pictures, though he continued to write and produce films that did not ever reach the same level of quality as those listed above.

I think the gross-out comedies with a heart of the last ten years (American Pie, Superbad,etc.) really owe something to Hughes. He created the formula with Sixteen Candles, and for my money, the prototype remains the best example of this subgenre. I have fond memories of this movie, due in no small part to the fact that I was able to see it at a young age because back then the MPAA didn't have a stick up its a-- and gave it a rating of PG, despite the fact there was full front nudity, lots of innuendo, curse words, and adult humor. Ah the good old days.

Sixteen Candles is my favorite Hughes's movie, but Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a very close second. Yes, his comedies are sometimes goofy, but they were always bolstered by a good story with a real plot. They didn't simply move from one comedic set piece to the next. And though I wouldn't attend St. Joe's Prep until 1993, I grew up on these high school 80s flicks and they really informed my teenage years.


Hughes became something of a recluse which only added to his mystique and intrigued his loyal fanbase. According to wiki, he "retired from the public eye and moved to Wisconsin" in 1994, in his later years becoming a farmer. Interestingly, he began penning screenplays under the pseudonym "Edmond Dantes," which we all know was the Count of Monte Cristo's real name. Dumas's best story has a lot going for it, including its exploration of the theme of masks we wear as human beings, both literal and metaphorical. It's quite telling that Hughes would select the name Edmond Dantes to serve as his mask when writing.

RIP John Hughes. You will be missed.


seanag said...

That's quite interesting about the end of his life.Wonder what he was up to. I also wonder if he lived anywhere near my cousin's farm, which I was visiting just a couple of weekends ago.

As you might guess, Hughes genre wasn't exactly up my alley, and in fact, I don't think I've seen any of these movies all the way through. Still, they are a huge part of popular culture, aren't they.

I'd love to read a post of yours on Dumas, by the way.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Hey Seana,

It's funny how turning into a recluse only adds to one's mystique, which is usually just the opposite of what the recenty-turned recluse is going for.

To be honest, I'm a little afraid to tackle the giant that is Dumas in a blog post. I don't feel I can do the man or his novels justice. But there is hope, since I had the same fear with Lawrence of Arabia for a long time. Eventually, I accepted the fact I wouldn't be able to do the film justice and just wrote what I thought would interest readers.

seanag said...

I understand that the subject is probably too big for a blog post, but if you just focussed on the mask aspect, along with a few other salient points, that would probably be plenty to tackle I'd think.

Jenna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenna said...

I'll admit, although I have seen many of his movies, when I first heard "John Hughes" had died, I didn't know who that was - until they explained. This is probably b/c I never know directors' names.

Anyhow, I heard a very interesting story on NPR last night. It was an interview with a woman who had a 2 year (1985-87) pen pal relationship with Hughes after she wrote him (and poured her heart out) after watching The Breakfast Club. It is really an interesting story, especially since they got in touch again later on, when Hughes was no longer in Hollywood. The woman maintains a blog and tells the whole story here.
Sounds like Hughes really cared about the teenagers he was making his films for.

seanag said...

Jenna, that was quite a moving piece, wasn't it? Thanks for sharing it. (A lot of people must have felt the same--there were 1066 comments on it when I checked in a few moments ago.)

Brian O'Rourke said...


Nice linkage there. You're right, I should listen to NPR more often.

Brian O'Rourke said...


1066 comments, Battle of Hastings in 1066...coincidence?

Okay, not really.

But seriously, that might be a record re: blog post comments. That's an insane amount of traffic.

seanag said...

Isn't it, though? Hughes must be really missed.