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August 06, 2009


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Jesus...we must be setting some kind of record for the number of celebrity deaths in a 3-month period. This is getting insane...


Is Jeffrey Wells reporting what John Hughes was wearing at the time of his death? Perhaps, some smeared chocolate? Or, some mustard? Seriously, though, WTF? That Jeffrey Wells is nutty like a Snickers bar. Besides, being a junk food lover who drops dead on the streets of Manhattan doesn't sound entirely unappealing to me. At least not the junk food part. Or, the streets of Manhattan part. The whole death thing I could probably live without.


Amen on King Lear, but I must be too young to distinguish between the Chris Miller era at National Lampoon and the John Hughes era.


Though I was, age-demographically speaking, in Hughes's target audience during his heyday, I never was a huge fan, either. I've never even seen some of the classics, and I hate "Breakfast Club". However, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" to me justifies his entire career. Really funny and sweet and genuine, with terrific work from Martin and Candy.

I also really enjoy "Uncle Buck", I have to say, as much because of my endless love of John Candy as anything else, probably, but Hughes gave him the material, so...

And Glenn, I'm going to just say it: I don't get how you can pal around with Wells. I don't see how anyone can, to be honest with you.


I would love to see King Lear (wrote a post about it once, in fact). Currently not sure how to. As for Molly, and Hughes, I was a bit young for their prime - my only real foray into Hughes-land was the Hughes-produced Home Alone. Having since seen some of his other films, I find Sixteen Candles cringeworthy (the promotion of date rape, the embarrassing Asian stereotype) but thoroughly enjoyed The Breakfast Club, which is probably a perfect example of American high school mythos, 80s vintage. R.I.P. Hughes...and yeah, I have to agree that this was a low blow from Wells. More than that, just perplexing. Why? What's the point?

"how you can pal around with Wells."


I have it anonymous tip that Wells actually ghost-writes this site for Glenn. Or at least some e-mail sent to the National Review suggests as much. Let's look into it.


P.S. I wrote the above (i.e. first in the thread) comment in the midst of temporary amnesia, forgetting that I'd read Schulberg was dead too (on this site a few hours ago nonetheless). Doubly true now that I remember, of course. What the hell IS going on? Is this the rapture or something (any fundamentalist religion wide enough to embrace Karl Malden and Michael jackson in one fell swoop is ok by me...)

Ryan Kelly

I hate that, he-had-it-coming attitude when someone who had a vice dies; he was a smoker, he was a drinker, he ate too much... it's just so people can feel superior to others, and take comfort in the fact that they get to live another day. It's a rather disgusting habit.

Bruce Reid

So do I outsnob you by crediting Ringwald to Mazursky, in a role that probably was more on Godard's mind when he was casting?

Hughes always seemed slipperier, cagier, and much more interesting that the stories he told onscreen; his commercial impulses play to me more like the cynical craft of a Barnum than the sincere inelegance of a Chris Columbus or Ron Howard. (Which might be the key to Stanton's reading material you reference--a little wink for those in the know that he really doesn't buy this shit.)

I mean no disrespect by these statements. I'm an American and a movie lover; I'm double-primed to admire our Barnums.

papa zita

I've noticed that many people who like Hughes' films tended to be just the right age when they first saw them. I was a college junior when Hughes' first hits came out and I wasn't so enamored of the pandering to teenagers. They were was extremely one-dimensional and so conventional in dealing with the high school experience that I was somewhat offended by them. I wrote a critical lacing of The Breakfast Club on our college's BBS and got support and outrage in about equal measure. The only young student who supported me was an extremely cynical girl who claimed all film was emotional manipulation. BTW, what happened to Molly Ringwald? I saw her in something on TV in the '90s (The Stand?) and it was like she forgot how to act.


I always loathed "Sixteen Candles", as it seemed to be about nothing but the trading of women like they were baseball cards. Throw in a little date rape and it boggles my mind that teenage girls (or anyone else, really) consider it a "classic".


I dunno, Harry Dean Stanton strikes me as a Finnegans Wake kind of dude.

Allen Belz

I think Miller bridged eras - Hughes and Miller both had stories in NL regularly even before Animal House came out. It could be Glenn is referring more to Miller's co-writer, the other G. Kenny (or is it Kenney?).

Allen Belz

Sorry, I must be drunk today...that's D. Kenney.


"Jesus...we must be setting some kind of record for the number of celebrity deaths in a 3-month period. This is getting insane..."

Or maybe the internet makes the deaths of famous people all too apparent. I don't think Hughes was a huge celebrity. I never really cared for John's movies beyond the ones with Chevy Chase. The ones with Molly Ringwald are just not good in my eyes.

Dan Coyle

bill: Uncle Buck's a wonderfully funny film, and Hughes gives Candy some real opportunities to show how he was a really good actor. That scene where Buck looks at the wedding photo, and realizes what's been done to it- he's seriously hurt on the one hand, but he knows in his heart that he probably gave his sister in law damn good reason to do what she did with it.

As schmaltzy and manipulative as P,T,&A is, Candy and Martin sell the hell out of it- Hughes knew how to get magic out of both of them. Just look at Martin's face when Neal goes over at the end everything Del's said to him and realizes the truth. Or when Neal finally unloads with both barrels at Del, and we see both men, and emphasize with them- Neal's annoyance with Del, and Del's realization that once again, he's tried too hard.

And finally, that last shot of Del's smiling face. That's what I think of, when I think of John Hughes. No matter how lonely you are, you can still make a connection. You can still find home.

Also: Ducky TOTALLY got a pity fuck from Iona after the end of Pretty in Pink.

Owain Wilson

@Bill and Dan - I'm really glad you mentioned Uncle Buck. It's basically a fantastic showcase for what John Candy can do, with an endless procession of great gags - big and small, verbal and visual. And Macauley Culkin is so good in it you totally understand why, like him or not, the kid became a superstar.

Not so long ago James Cameron ripped into Uncle Buck when discussing his own movie, The Abyss. He bitched that The Abyss opened at No 2 behind Uncle Buck ... "but who remembers Uncle Buck now?"

We do!


I grew up in England in the 70s so my school experience was more like 'Kes' than 'Pretty In Pink' and from my perspective watching Hughes High School movies was like peering into an alternate universe. They seemed so impossibly glam, and everyone had a car! Though this morning my wife made the comment that the kids in them all look very 'real' compared to what you get in teen movies these days where they try to pass off some incredibly beautiful girl as the 'plain' one by putting a pair of glasses on her.

I couldn't tell you how 'accurate' they were but I don't think you can knock the connection that 80s High Schoolers (like my missus) have to those films, they must have been saying something they understood, which is no mean feat when aiming films at that demographic. You think when the director of 'Mean Girls' pops his clogs one day it will have the same impact?

E. Rob

Growing up north of Chicago, the Hughes movies were an odd combination of massively iconic national teenage experience and local color. It seems like everyone here generally agrees that 16 Candles is more or less vile, and for me Breakfast Club is ruined by the fate of Ally Sheedy's character. I'm with Bill and Dan on the Candy movies being Hughes's best, but I have to say that Chicago has rarely looked as good on film as it does in Ferris Bueller.

papa zita

London Lee,
Hughes did plug in to those '80s kids' view of themselves like nobody else. I was dragged to most of his movies by dates two or so years younger than me, I suffered them like a good sport, but I never told any date I actually liked what I saw. I saw a lot of bad '80s cinema on dates. Most of the better movies I saw, I saw alone.

Oh, as far as cars, America is the home of car culture. I had a license at 15 and a car. My situation was a little different (my dad had a stroke a month into my first year in HS, so it was deemed necessary for me to drive), but most of my classmates drove cars as well as soon as they were 16. It was considered the first rite of passage into adulthood. Of course nearly nobody had a nice car (they were usually about 8-10 years old), but most had cars.

Pete Segall

"I have to say that Chicago has rarely looked as good on film as it does in Ferris Bueller."

I don't know - aren't there some nice promo videos playing in the baggage claim at O'Hare that look just about the same?

Not to turn a man's passing into grist for a pissing match but as someone who grew up north of Chicago as well, though not far enough north to have been in Hughes' zone (Home Alone was the only one of his films shot at all in Evanston, that at its furthest edge), I always found his view of the city sort of problematic, made up solely of things you see on postcards and inhabited by people who will wreck your dad's expensive car. No, I never expected the guy to make "Molly Ringwald Visits the Robert Taylor Homes," but he exemplified a city/suburb rift that seems especially prevalent in Chicago. Even The Fugitive and Primal Fear, to name the first two Chicago-set films vaguely contemporary to Hughes that come to mind, feature scenes beyond Wrigley Field or The Loop. Not that those depictions are problem-free, but still, the mere acknowledgment... The best thing I can say is that his are a whole lot more insightful than Sam Mendes'.

Glenn Kenny

@ Pete: Wasn't Richard Edson, the original drummer for Sonic Youth, the guy who wrecked the car in "Ferris Bueller"? I always rather enjoyed that detail. And maybe I would've enjoyed Hughes' films more if his teen characters had used fake IDs to get into the Cubby Bear to see the Pixies or something...

Pete Segall

...Or maybe if Al Jourgensen had stolen away Mia Sara at the old Wax Trax store on Lincoln.

That sure is a post-Stranger Than Paradise, pre-Do the Right Thing Richard Edson being a valet.

James Keepnews

Don't want to speak too ill of the recently deceased, but come on. I very much doubt the age had much to do with an appreciation of Hughes - I was in college, too, when _The Breakfast Club_ came out and it seemed then as it does now to traffic in the the most hoary, literally (+ given the self-satisfaction projected in most of his films, figuratively as well) adolescent stereotypes imaginable. The only European Hughes reminds me of is Francis Veber. OK, maybe Benny Hill, too...

Like Glenn, I have a great love for first-gen NatLamp writers, but even the undeniably inferior second-gen produced talented writers from Al Jean who went on to The Simpsons, to Fred Graver, a very memorable presence on David Letterman's original Late Night in the 80's, etc. As opposed to Hughes, whose compassion for teens seemed as forced and mawkish as his incapacity to craft believable characters and/or narratives. The SINGLE exception to what I detail above comes in the form of Ally Sheedy's unforgettable performance in _TBC_, and really, most of that came from her. Seems like every decade, Sheedy rises to the challenge (_TBC_, _High Art_) and she's got five months to knock something brilliant out before this decade's up.

I'm fond of imitating the fourth-to-last-shot (or thereabouts) of _Some Kind of Wonderful_ as Eric Stolz runs towards the long-suffering Mary Stuart Masterson -- remind me to show you sometime.

Tim F.


Your assessment of John Hughes' work seems bratty and based on the bratty assessments of the peers you hang around with and hug on. I'm guessing you're at least 50 years old (judging from the way your body looked in "The Girlfriend Experience") so that means you were what, late -20s, early-30's when Hughes' teen stuff came out? Well, then surely it passed under you. You were supposed to be a man by then, not a teen.

Plus, you ARE kind of a snob: the only thing that touched you about Andy's father in "Pretty In Pink" was that he was reading Finnegan's Wake? That's pretty dense. But very "Eurpoean", yeah, I'll give you that.

You're a goofy dude.

Fabian W.

Every time somebody writes "Finnegans Wake" with an apostrophe, Joyce dies another death. Or so I hear from Flann.

Dan Coyle

Every time someone mentions Finnegans Wake I think of Peter Milligan's Skreemer.

Glenn Kenny

@ Tim F.: Another reason I love the internet; I write a post in which I readily admit that I was too old for Hughes' teen pictures to really hit home, and you come along...to call me out for being too old for Hughes' teen pictures to really hit home. Too right!

Fookin brilliant, really.

Also: "the way your body looked"? WTF? Did you receive English composition instruction from Peter Cetera or something?

Also: I won't be 50 for another four hours or so.

You're a goofy dude yourself.


Happy birthday, Glenn.

Allen Belz

Speaking of 80s artifacts, I do recall spending more than one evening watching "Urgh: a Music War" on USA Network way back when, and I just noticed it's now being offered through Warner Archives. No great shakes cinematically as I recall, just one excellent live performance after another from the likes of Gang of Four, Pere Ubu, X, XTC, etc. etc. etc.

Douglas Arthur

Hey Tim,

I was 16 when i saw TBC, prime demographic fodder, and I fucking hated that piece of shit. I was incenced watching the cliches play out on screen before me, and the entire message of "be yourself" was sabotaged by the fucking stupid Ally Sheedy makeover. I haven't watched it since, and I tried to avoid his other films as they came along, so don't blame Glenn's hatred on being too old. It may have something to do with the fact that quite a few of his films were not that smart. The only thing I can give him props on was his use of music. He was the Tarantino of the 80's in that regard.

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