Return Engagement: JOHN HUGHES TEEN MOVIES [1984-1987]

This post originally appeared on The Hideaway on August 3, 2012.  It has been updated accordingly.


John Hughes was much more than a filmmaker. He passed on four years ago this week leaving behind a large, influential body of work, a lasting legacy that will be enjoyed and treasured for generations to come. Unlike a lot of filmmakers, he let his films and their characters do the talking, rarely giving interviews or appearing on red carpets or attending parties.  For this very special extended version of Hideaway Film Fest, the spotlight will be on the influential run of six teen films Hughes was involved with from 1984-1987.

Sixteen Candles lit up theaters in May 1984 introducing Molly Ringwald to the world.  It was the second Hughes film Anthony Michael Hall would appear in after 1983's National Lampoon's Vacation.  Featured in smaller roles were a young John Cusack and his big sister, Joan.  Although Michael Schoeffling will ALWAYS be "Jake Ryan", Molly Ringwald says the other finalist for the role was none other than Viggo Mortensen, who had just returned to the States after spending a couple of years in Denmark when casting took place in 1983.  Molly said that during the reading of the movie's final scene with him during auditions, he kissed her while Mr. Schoeffling chose not to.  As a 15 year old girl, she said the kiss from the then 25 year old Mortensen made her "weak in the knees."  A little known fact about the ruggedly handsome Schoeffling is he wore risers in his boots during filming to appear much taller than his female co-stars.  Despite this shortcoming, HERC recommends the film highly - it's not just for sixteen year old girls.

More than 30 songs are featured in the film yet when the soundtrack was released, it was a paltry 5 song, less than 18 minute long "mini album".  HERC bought it anyway because it featured the Thompson Twins song ("If You Were Here") from the film's final sitting-on-the-table birthday cake scene (below) which was also the cover art for the soundtrack.  The song was later covered by Cary Brothers and featured in the 2010 film, Easy A.

HERC's blog buddy Mark, of The CD Project, kindly contributed this guide to what songs are played in what scenes in Sixteen Candles. (That's also Mark's playlist up beneath the soundtrack album artwork.)

1. First scene at the house: "Snowballed" by AC/DC

2. Sam's room, Sam on phone: "Love of the Common People" by Paul Young,

3. Opening credits: "Kajagoogoo" by Kajagoogoo

4. School, sitting in independent study: "Happy Birthday" by Altered Images

5. On the bus: "Kazooed on Klassics" by the Temple City Kazoo Orchestra

6. Farmer Ted makes his move on the bus: "Dragnet" by Ray Anthony and His Orchestra

7. Sam walking upstairs to find grandparents in her room: "Twilight Zone" TV show theme

8. Mike listening to walkman in the kitchen: "Rumours in the Air" by Night Ranger

9. Sam and Ginny talking in Ginny's room: "Today I Met the Boy I'm Gonna Marry" by Darlene Love

10. At the dance, geeks along the wall: "Peter Gunn" TV theme

11. At the dance: "True" by Spandau Ballet

12. At the dance: "Wild Sex (In the Working Class)" by Oingo Boingo

13. At the dance: "Little Bitch" by The Specials

14. At the dance: "Growing Pains" by Tim Finn

15 & 17. At the dance: "When It Started to Begin" and "Whistle Down the Wind" by Nick Heyward

16. Ted and Sam in the auto shop: "Lenny" by Stevie Ray Vaughan

18. Sam and Jake at the coat check: "Ring Me Up" by the DiVinyls

19. Restaurant, Bakers and Rizchecks at dinner: "Love Theme from The Godfather"

20. Marlene and Dong dropping off Sam at the house: "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors

21. At the party: "Rev-Up" by The Revillos

22. At the party: "Farmer John" by The Premiers

23. At the party, Jake on the phone: "Hang Up the Phone" by Annie Golden

24. At the party, Carolyn's hair caught in door: "Gloria" by Patti Smith

25. After party, in kitchen: "Theme from New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra

26. Ted pulling Rolls out of garage: "Young Guns (Go for It)" by Wham

27. Ted driving the Rolls Royce: "Rebel Yell" by Billy Idol

28. Loading cars for wedding: "Young Americans" by David Bowie

29. After wedding, Sam and Jake in front of church: "If You Were Here" by Thompson Twins

30. End credits: "Sixteen Candles" by The Stray Cats

Ms. Ringwald and Mr. Hall returned in John Hughes's next film The Breakfast Club.  Released just after Valentine's Day 1985, the film is about a day in the life of three male and two female high school students serving detention on Saturday, March 24, 1984.  Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez and Judd Nelson, all of whom would portray college students four months later in St. Elmo's Fire, round out the main cast.  Estevez originally auditioned for the role of "the criminal" but was eventually cast as "the athlete".  Nicholas Cage was the front runner for the role of "the criminal" but reportedly his salary demands could not be met so the part went to the more affordable and (affable) John Cusack, who in turn was replaced by Judd Nelson before filming began because Hughes felt Cusack didn't look "threatening enough" (too affable?) for the role.  Ringwald wanted to play the role of "the basket-case" (at one point, Brooke Shields was also under consideration) but Hughes had already promised it to Sheedy so Molly slid over to portray "the princess", a role Jodie Foster was briefly considered for.  Legend has it that the original cut of the film was two and a half hours long and Hughes possessed the only remaining copy at the time of his death.  The film is the most dramatic of Hughes's teen films and probably his most beloved and critically acclaimed.  HERC watches it regularly.  Watch closely near the beginning of the clip below to spot John Hughes himself playing the father of "the brain".

Musically, The Breakfast Club film is positively anemic compared to Sixteen Candles, although a full 10 song soundtrack album was released featuring the Number One song "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds.  The song was initially offered to and rejected by Cy Currin (lead singer of The Fixx), Bryan Ferry (former lead singer of Roxy Music), Billy Idol (although he eventually recorded it later in his career for a greatest hits album) and Pretenders front woman, Chrissie Hynde.  It was Hynde who suggested her boyfriend's (and future ex-husband's) band - Jim Kerr is the lead singer of Simple Minds.  HERC's favorite version of the song is the Long Version released as a 12" single and played in the video below.

Summer 1985's Weird Science was Hughes exploring comic book sci-fi and teen male fantasies.  It was also his fourth and final film with actor Anthony Michael Hall who attempted to break out of his "typecast" roles by joining the cast of Saturday Night Live that fall at the age of 17, the youngest cast member ever. (Other notable alumni from the SNL cast of 1985-1986 are Randy Quaid, Robert Downey Jr., Joan Cusack, Damon Wayans, Dennis Miller, Nora Dunn and Jon Lovitz.)  Downey also appeared in the movie along with Bill Paxton and Kelly LeBrock.  While it is funny at times and goofy in others, overall it seems to have a darker, meaner tone than any other Hughes teen flick while also having a higher level of sexuality or just plain horniness.  LeBrock's character is sweet eye candy with an edge much like Elizabeth Hurley's portrayal of the Devil in Bedazzled.  HERC watches Weird Science as part of his annual Halloween Film Fest but it is probably his least favorite film in the Hughes teen canon.

The soundtrack was a diverse affair featuring the title track by Oingo Boingo (who later disowned the song) and contributions from Los Lobos, Van Halen and General Public among others.  The released soundtrack album featured the majority of the music as featured in the film.  Here at the Hideaway it is the least played of the soundtrack albums with HERC preferring to listen to Oingo Boingo's album Dead Man's Party which includes "Weird Science".

The social clique-y Pretty In Pink, from February 1986, was Molly Ringwald's final work with John Hughes, who wrote the role of "Andie Walsh" with her in mind. Although Mols initially resisted the role, she eventually came around. (No doubt kissing the pouty pillows that are Andrew McCarthy's lips sweetened the deal.) The role of "Duckie", however, was meant to be Anthony Michael Hall's fifth role in a Hughes film but he declined, fearing typecasting and Hughes tagged Robert Downey, Jr. for the role but ended up casting Jon Cryer shortly before filming began. The already mentioned Andrew McCarthy joined James Spader, Harry Dean Stanton and Annie Potts in rounding out the main cast. Angelica Huston was originally cast in the role of record store owner "Iona" but left to pursue another project and Potts was cast after Hughes saw her performance in Ghostbusters. Supporting players included Andrew "Dice" Clay, Dweezil Zappa, Kristy Swanson and Gina Gershon.

The movie's title song existed before the movie was scripted - in fact, it had been written and recorded five years prior, in 1981. Ringwald actually turned Hughes onto the band that recorded it, the Psychedelic Furs, who in turn re-recorded the song for the film's soundtrack giving it a fuller, more produced sound than the previous version. The soundtrack also included tracks by New Order, The Smiths, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, INXS and Echo & the Bunnymen. The lame duck on the soundtrack for HERC is the cover of Nik Kershaw's "Wouldn't It Be Good" - what was wrong with the original? Another song left off the soundtrack is below:

For 1986's Ferris Bueller's Day Off, let's begin with the end, shall we? "Oh Yeah"!  The song was by German Swiss band Yello from their fourth album, 1985's Stella.  It was later used in 1987's Secret Of My Success and has been used thousands hundreds of times since in movies, television shows and commercials.  Despite record label A&M begging him to do so, Hughes resisted releasing a soundtrack featuring songs by Wayne Newton, The Beatles, John Williams and Zapp.

Not that he would have been able to include "Twist & Shout" by The Beatles - for the scene in the movie during the parade, Hughes dubbed the brass band onto the track incurring Paul McCartney's (Mull of Kinty)ire. After simultaneously being featured in both Bueller and the Rodney Dangerfield film Back To School, Capitol Records re-released the Beatles track (a cover version of the Isley Brothers original) and watched it climb into the Top 25 more than 22 years after its original release!

The script was written by Hughes specifically with Matthew Broderick in mind for the title role.  The studio urged John Hughes to consider Rob Lowe, John Cusack, Jim Carrey, Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr. and Michael J. Fox for the titular character but the writer (Hughes), director (also Hughes) and producer (Hughes again) put up an unwavering and united front for Broderick.  Molly Ringwald wanted to play the role of "Sloane" but, according to her, Hughes said the role "wasn't big enough" for her.  More than 32 prominent actresses (incl. Madonna, Goldie Hawn and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) were considered for Bueller's sister, "Jeannie", before Jennifer Gray nailed it.  And Alan Ruck had auditioned for the role of "the criminal" in The Breakfast Club before landing the role of "Cameron", Ferris's best friend.  John Candy had also auditioned to be "Cameron" while both Anthony Michael Hall and Emilio Estevez declined the role.

The Ferrari 250GT California Spyder featured in the movie was one of less than 100 manufactured and was valued around $300,000 at the time of filming. Three stunt cars were fabricated so no harm would come to the real thing which was only used in close-ups. A similar 250GT sold at auction in 2008 for over $10 million dollars. The movie is breezy fun, a Hughes Valentine to his beloved Chicago and HERC watches it every chance he gets.

Like the movie it is essentially recycled from (Pretty In Pink), Some Kind Of Wonderful was not directed by John Hughes - both films were directed by Howard Deutch.  Like PIP, SKOW was written and produced by Hughes.  Like PIP, SKOW was titled after a song.  Like PIP, SKOW was shot in Southern California rather than Hughes's beloved Chicago. As he had done in the past, John Hughes wrote the script with an actor in mind for the lead role - this time around, it was Eric Stoltz as "Keith".  The original director was Martha Coolidge and she cast Kim Delaney as "Amanda Jones" and Kyle McLachlan as "Hardy Jenns".  When Coolidge dropped out shortly before production began, Howard Deutch took the reins and those roles were recast with Lea Thompson and Craig Sheffer.  Deutch and Thompson fell in love during filming and were married shortly after production wrapped.  The last role Hughes would offer Molly Ringwald was that of "Watts", Keith's tomboyish best friend who secretly pined for him.  Mary Stuart Masterson won the role and, in the original script, Keith proposed to her.  Probably the least popular in the string of teen flicks Hughes created, Some Kind Of Wonderful is worthy of your time.  HERC approves. (For more interesting information about this movie, please visit somekindofwonderful.org)

When HERC went to see the movie at a sneak preview in January 1987, he, like every other patron, was given a 7" vinyl single in a collectible picture sleeve at the door.   The A-side was "I Go Crazy" by Flesh For Lulu and the B-side was "The Shyest Time" by The Apartments. (That single is lurking somewhere deep in the Audio Archives here at the Hideaway.)  While both of those songs can be found on the official soundtrack album, five other songs featured in the film cannot be found on the officially released soundtrack including (wait for it) "Pretty In Pink" by The Psychedelic Furs. (It's a small freakin' world, people.)  Another song missing from the soundtrack album is in the film's opening scene with "Watts" drumming along to Propaganda's "Abuse".

Eighties music fan Martin Maenza has posted his informative, track-by-track reviews of The Breakfast Club and Pretty In Pink soundtrack albums.  Click on movie title to head on over to Martin's View.

Mark, the man who gave HERC the Sixteen Candles musical cues and playlist, has published his detailed, track-by-track review of the Pretty In Pink soundtrack CD.  Click on over to The CD Project to read it. 

HERC rounded up as many of the songs as he could find on Songza and put them in a playlist (click on link below) for your listening enjoyment.

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