It is thanks to him that not a day goes by when someone, somewhere does not come up to me, taps me on the shoulder and says, "Hey Ferris
, is this your day off?
— Matthew Broderick
, Memorial Speech for Hughes at the 82nd Academy Awards
John Hughes (1950-2009) was an American filmmaker best known for the teen comedies he wrote and directed in the mid 1980s: Sixteen Candles
, The Breakfast Club
, Weird Science
and Ferris Bueller's Day Off
He started as a writer for National Lampoon Magazine, and was one of the key developers of Delta House
, the TV spinoff of Animal House
. His first big successes as a screenwriter (the year before Sixteen Candles
) were National Lampoon's Vacation
and Mr. Mom
. After Ferris Bueller
, he directed Planes, Trains and Automobiles
, She's Having a Baby
, Uncle Buck
, and Curly Sue
, and wrote and produced Pretty in Pink
, Some Kind of Wonderful
, the Lampoon's Vacation
sequel entitled Christmas Vacation
, and the first three Home Alone
movies. (He also produced Only The Lonely
for writer-director (and Home Alone
(and its sequel) director) Chris Columbus
, one of only two films he produced that he didn't write - the other was New Port South
, written and directed by his son James.)
During the 1990s, he somehow ended up writing and producing a string of more family-oriented comedies, including the live-action versions of 101 Dalmatians
and Dennis the Menace
, and the remake of Miracle on 34th Street
. In the following decade he would become a recluse
, and the rest of his screenplays would be written under the pseudonym Edmond Dantes
. His last film was the Owen Wilson comedy Drillbit Taylor
Films he directed include:
His films (those few that don't already have pages of their own) provide examples of:
- Adults Are Useless
- In a couple of his movies, the bad guys are people who take "just doing their job" too far.
- Parents are usually depicted as well-meaning, but generally out-of-touch and ignorant.
- This is played with in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, where, yes, the adults are easily fooled and/or moronic...but the kids are easily fooled, too.
- All There in the Manual: Hughes apparently spent several years putting together a detailed history for the Shermer universe of his films (see below), but his stories and notes have never been released.
- Author Appeal: Fine art, indie music and Chicago.
- Dean Bitterman: Hughes explored this trope twice. In both cases, the principal takes administration a little too far, and becomes needlessly vindictive in dealing with a student.
- Principal Vernon from The Breakfast Club is the dramatic version of this trope. At his worst, he tells Bender to punch him, because who's going to believe a useless punk over a respected principal?
- Principal Rooney from Ferris Bueller's Day Off is the same thing, except played for comedy. Every time he oversteps the proper boundaries, he suffers a Humiliation Conga.
- The Eighties: Most of his best-known and best-liked films were made this decade.
- Monochrome Casting: Virtually none of his movies had a non-white lead. Justified, since most of his stories took place in American suburbia, which was still not quite integrated when he began writing.
- Society Marches On: Looked at objectively and from current standards, Ducky from Pretty in Pink is a real creep, not to mention the dean of students turning a blind eye at what he believes to be father-daughter incest in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
- Something Completely Different: Weird Science is the odd man out among the teen pics, being much more fantasy-based and a little cruder in its humor than the others.
- The Stinger
- The Verse: In a 1999 Premiere article, Hughes himself declared that Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles are all a part of the same universe. Sadly, the crossover possibilities were never explored in film.
When I started making movies, I thought I would just invent a town where everything happened. Everybody, in all of my movies, is from Shermer, Illinois. Del Griffith from Planes, Trains & Automobiles
lives two doors down from John Bender. Ferris Bueller knew Samantha Baker from Sixteen Candles
. For 15 years I've written my Shermer stories in prose, collecting its history
- It's long been speculated that Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, and Home Alone also take place in the Shermerverse, since those movies were written (but not directed) by Hughes and feature similar themes.
- Weird Science explicitly takes place in Shermer (Lisa is seen teaching the Shermer High gym class at the end), though it has its own Speculative Fiction internal logic that is inconsistent with the other canon Shermerverse movies.
- She's Having A Baby does NOT take place in the Shermerverse, since Neal Page's wife is seen watching that movie on television in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
- The Windy City: The suburbs of Chicago, actually.