We mourn untimely death of John Hughes, who passed away on August 6. The noted director and writer of many successful films during the 80s and 90s suffered a heart attack during a visit in New York, leaving many to ponder how different pop culture would be without his motley crew of films that have defined generations of teenagers worldwide.
Born in Lansing, Michigan as John Hughes Jr., his early life wasn’t out of the ordinary. His mother worked on a series of charitable groups while his father supported the family as a salesman. Yet, it wouldn’t be until the family relocated to Northbrook, Illinois where he would find inspiration and soon base the landscape of his future films around it.
Though Mr. Hughes was far from his teenage years when his most notable works “National Lampoon Vacation” “Pretty in Pink” “The Breakfast Club” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” hit theaters in the 80s. He managed to tap into the intrinsic and poignant moments within one’s own adolescence. He brought to screen iconic moments from a group of high school kids dodging their principle in “The Breakfast Club” to a couple of teens creating a real-life dream girl in “Weird Science.” All the while making stars out of actors such as Molly Ringwald, Matthew Broderick, Jon Cryer and Anthony Michael Hall.
Mr. Hughes gave a rare interview to AFI (American Film Institute) in 1985 where he discussed his films. In reference to his then-latest success, “Sixteen Candles” he made the point to explain, “Now I get hit a lot of times for having sentimental endings, and I do that deliberately … and with that film everything came just right, and that has a lot to do with the fact that when you are that age, you want things to come out right … and they never do … so I choose not to, and at some part I depart from reality, and say this is what I would want to feel at the end of the day. Life doesn’t always, movies can.”
And perhaps that is what made his films so memorable — the fantasy and escape for someone to play hooky from school and embark on a memorable adventure, or the idea that four very different classes of people from four different cliques could actually form a connection on some level.
Despite his somewhat less visible stamp in current cinema, some may have noticed his penned name Edmond Dantes as story writer for such films as “Drillbit Taylor” or “Maid in Manhattan.” And even then, there are classic Hughes endings to make audiences smile: situated stories that for an odd hour or so provide a window of escape from the day.
So while children of the 80s grieve the loss of another pop icon, many will undoubtedly remember how John Hughes managed to achieve what many people in the entertainment industry value: immortality. His films will continue to live on in late night DVD marathons and on the lips of many who quote the works from memory.
In the memorable words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” And many would agree John Hughes made the best of it.