Film / St. Elmo's Fire

St. Elmo's Fire is a 1985 film about seven friends who start to drift apart after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C..

Directed by Joel Schumacher, the movie stars Brat Pack members Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy and Mare Winningham as the main characters. Andie MacDowell, Martin Balsam, Joyce Van Patten and Jenny Wright play supporting roles.

The film's theme song, "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motionnote )", performed by John Parr, was a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The film also contains an instrumental love theme by David Foster.

This film provides examples of:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: At least, Wendy does.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Well, some of it.
  • All There in the Script: Jules is the only person of the seven central characters in the cast whose last name is never mentioned in the movie. Her full character name is Julianna Van Patten according to the movie's screenplay.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Leslie between Kevin (Betty) and Alec (Veronica). Subverted in that she had a long relationship with Alec before Kevin and in the end doesn't choose either one of them.
    • Wendy between Howie (Betty) and Billy (Veronica). She admits to being in love with Billy but doesn't end up with either one either.
    • Billy between Wendy (Betty) and Felicia (Veronica). Subverted in that Felicia is his wife and mother of his kid while hooking up with Wendy would be an affair.
  • Credit Card Plot: Played straight: Jules gets in serious trouble for her overspending habits and her liberal usage of several credit cards; she ends up having most of her stuff repossessed.
  • Date Rape Averted: Billy's actions towards Jules, when she drives him home skirt extremely close to attempted rape, although he doesn't seem to realise it in his drunken state. The only consequences are that she doesn't confess her secret to him and his wife loses all hope for their reconciliation.
  • Destructive Romance: Billy gets into a shouting match (and nearly a brawl) in public with his wife. Then they cry and embrace. After a few more go-arounds of begging for forgiveness, they eventually split up.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Leslie doesn't end up with either Alec or Kevin, Kirby doesn't end up with Dale, and, despite spending the night together, Billy and Wendy don't end up together.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: What Kirby thinks he is (via the Spectacular Displays). Kevin is more the Low-Key Yearning type, who has never told the object of his affections how he feels because she's taken.
  • Double Standard: Invoked while Leslie and Alec break up.
    Alec: You fucked Kevin.
    Leslie: You fucked many!
    Alec: Nameless, faceless many.
    Leslie: I feel much better now. Thanks.
  • The '80s: And then some.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: For a film about a group of True Companions, some of the friends don't seem to interact one-on-one very much. Kirby, for example, doesn't seem to spend much time with Wendy or Jules.
    • As in Real Life, after leaving college, starting careers and/or going to graduate school, friends simply don't have as much time to socialize as they did when living on or near campus for four years. Also, being a group of seven, it is rather unlikely that all of them would be strictly best friends.
  • Gold Digger: How Jules perceives herself at times, especially in light of her sleeping with her boss.
    "So, I bop him for a couple of years, get his job when he gets his hands caught in the vault, do a black mink ad, retire in utter disgrace, then write a best seller and be a fabulous host on my own talk show..."
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Jules, after losing her job and virtually everything she owns. She locks herself in her apartment, opens all the windows, and sits in front of them in a Troubled Fetal Position, hoping that perhaps she might freeze to death.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Naomi, one of Kevin's friends, is a hooker who gives him some insights about love.
  • Hypocrite: Alec repeatedly cheats on Leslie for who knows how long during their relationship. When she sleeps with Kevin, he sees no problem with constantly reminding her of it. See Double Standard above.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: When Leslie questions his 'extracurricular activities', Alec attacks Kevin, assuming that he told Leslie about Alec's cheating. She then points out that no one told her and she didn't know for sure until he reacted like that.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Jules is a deconstruction.
  • Love Dodecahedron
  • Manchild: Billy, who's still stuck in his college golden years.
  • Meganekko: Wendy.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Kevin, by Jules and Naomi. Jules bases it solely on the fact that he's never hit on her; she even tries to set him up with another man. He's actually in love with Leslie.
  • Monochrome Casting: As Gene Siskel pointed out, all the main characters are white and the only minorities in the film are a black prostitute and a Korean mobster.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Jules's apartment is a complete mess towards the end.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Happens to Wendy at the very end.
  • Sexy Sax Man: Billy.
  • Shower of Love: Between Kevin and Leslie. They break the shower screen.
  • Shotgun Wedding: It seems pretty clear that Billy and Felicia only got married because of an accidental pregnancy.
  • Six Student Clique: There's seven but it still counts.
    • The Head: Alec and Kevin.
    • The Muscle: Billy
    • The Quirk: The group thinks Kevin is this but it applies to Kirby better.
    • The Pretty One: Leslie
    • The Smart One: Wendy
    • The Wild One: Jules
  • Stalker with a Crush: Kirby, as far as med student Dale is concerned. He starts out seeing himself as a Dogged Nice Guy who just can't get a break. Later on, he, uh, embraces the truth.
    "I'm obsessed, thank you very much."
  • Strawman Political: Alec, who ditches his liberal viewpoint after graduation since being a Republican apparently gets him more money.
  • The Three Faces of Eve: Leslie (wife), Wendy (child), Jules (seductress).
  • Title Drop: "You know what this is? This is St Elmo's Fire."
  • Troubled, but Cute: Billy, especially in Wendy's eyes, although she does try to break their rather toxic relationship at one point.
  • True Companions: The seven main characters, whose friendship bond is the anchor of the whole movie. They show this best when coming to Jules' rescue when she's in a predicament at the end of the movie, though Wendy isn't present at the time.
    Leslie: I can't remember who met who first... or who fell in love with who first. All I can remember is the seven of us, always together.
  • Unconfessed Unemployment: Jules, after she's been fired.
  • You Need to Get Laid:
    • Wendy, according to at least one of the women she tries to help out as a social worker. By the end of movie, she does.
    • Kevin, according to Kirbo.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Alec cheats on Leslie and Billy cheats on his wife. Their friends never make any serious effort to stop them, either.