I am admitedly late in doing this, but I couldn’t allow the passing of filmmaker John Hughes go by silently.
There are plenty of writer-directors out there. Many of them are either underworked or underappreciated, which is sad, as writing a thing and then directing it has got to be a more difficult job than people give credit to.
You create a thing, you put words to paper that shape a story and characters, you tweak with dialogue to get it just right. You spend hours out of every day toiling in front of a computer screen, your fingers practically attached to a keyboard, while you try to convey the story that currently resides nowhere but in your heart and your mind into words that others will not only understand, but also feel. That’s the tricky thing about writing that few people seem to understand; Everyone has a story or two in their head, but who among us can say that they have the ability to tell that story in a way that befits how it makes us feel inside?
So that alone is a difficult task, the writing bit. But to then say “Yeah, I’ll go ahead and direct this too” is accepting the responsibility to make an attempt in not only convincing others to feel what you feel about the words on the paper, but to actually act them out properly. You’re literally trying to create life, in a weird way. That takes a rare kind of talent that, even though there are many directors in the world, very few can honestly claim to have.
To direct a script someone else wrote is a huge responsibility as well, don’t get me wrong, but it’s even more heart wrenching of a process when it’s your words being poked and prodded with the stick of cinematic life.
John Hughes was a guy who got it, man. He understood what that took. He wrote and directed some of the most well-known and well-loved movies that have ever been assimilated into pop culture.
The Breakfast Club – 1985
I don’t think any of the people that are nearest and dearest to me weren’t personally touched by this movie in some way. Just about everyone can relate to it and at least one of its characters. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you take a second look at people you might not necessarily think you have anything in common with.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – 1986
Who didn’t want to be Ferris? I know I did. I was always more of a Cameron, though. In this movie, Hughes again captures what it’s like to be a kid finding his place in the big world, but in a slightly different way.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles – 1987
One of the more underrated Hughes films, in my opinion. The chemistry between Steve Martin and John Candy is fucking brilliant in this and the banter between their characters is pitch perfect. Candy plays the role of the obnoxious guy really well in this one, but as he did in all of his roles, he brought a lot of heart to it as well. And to see Steve Martin on his slow decline in sanity throughout the events in the movie, all the horrible things that happen to him as a result of Candy’s lovable-though-bumbling nature, to the point where he snaps and they have the heartbreaking fight later in the film. It’s just a touching, funny movie.
Which is what Hughes always did best.
That’s not even mentioning Weird Science, Sixteen Candles or many others.
And let’s not forget the multitude of movies that John Hughes wrote but didn’t direct:
National Lampoon’s Vacation/Christmas Vacation
Pretty In Pink
Some Kind of Wonderful
The Great Outdoors (this time John Candy teamed up with Dan Akyroyd. Classic.)
Home Alone (Home Alone 2, 3)
That’s just to name a few. Look at that list, I guarantee there’s at least one that makes you cry, one that makes you laugh and one that you feel is greatly underappreciated. Hell, you might be saying all those things about a single movie from that list.
The thing that seems to go unnoticed most often about the John Hughes films is their aesthetics; The way they look, the visual feel of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as much a fan of the Hughes dialogue as anyone else, but the look of those films is visual proof of a guy who really understood what it took to make a film look great. It shows he knew how to tell a story within the frames of film along with the dialogue.
John Hughes was one of those directors that, upon seeing his films, made you want to be a director yourself. He wrote stories and created characters that made other writers think “Man, I wish I had done that.”
I’ve never met Hughes, but he was always one of the writer-directors whom I admired. Always wanted to shake his hand and just say “Thanks for helping to define who I was as a teenager, man.”
Now I’ll never get that chance, which is sad. But we’ll always have his movies to make us feel better, won’t we?
Excuse me, I’m going to go pop in Ferris Bueller on DVD. That always cheers me up.