Friday, 7 August 2009

John Hughes: A tribute to an 80s cinematic legend.

1950 - 2009

Taking a break for a moment from reviews and my latest obsession of tweeting film news, I thought it was only fitting to pay tribute to a genuine hero of cinema, who passed away yesterday at the age of 59. John Hughes began his career as an ad copywriter in Chicago. During this time, he created what became the famous (if you live in the States) Edge "Credit Card Shaving Test" ad campaign. Shortly after he would get an opportunity to live out his passion for comedy writing at the infamous National Lampoon magazine where he would then write the basis of his script for National Lampoon's Vacation, which in after several attempts by the company up until then, turned out to be their first genuine hit since the 1978 comedy, Animal House. Having, for some reason, no involvement with its sequel, he would then return to co write and produce its third instalment Christmas Vacation.

Growing up and drawing inspiration from his surroundings, John Hughes clearly had a love affair with the state of Illinois which was evident in all his films beginning in his directional debut Sixteen Candles, which starred two young leads who would go on to be stars in future productions by the man himself, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall. With high critical praise for his debut Hughes continued this trend of high school based comedy-dramas with genuine classics such as The Breakfest Club, Pretty In Pink, Weird Science and one of my personal all time favourites Ferris Bueller's Day Off creating some of the most successful films of the 1980s. With a decade of cinematic hits and arguably the godfather of the "Brat Pack" era, from these movies alone John Hughes has done enough to cement his place amongst the directorial greats. Though these are perhaps considered his greatest works he would actually go on to find his biggest commericial success with the 1990 Christmas smash hit Home Alone in which he produced and wrote the screenplay. Though not considered up there with his more infamous pieces, Hughes retired from the directorial world in 1991 with the touching family comedy Curly Sue. His movies very much epitomised the original MTV generation in all its glory.

Though retiring from the director's chair on Curly Sue, through the 90s he would go on to write an array of films that children would marvel and apprecaite, even if his original followers had started to grow up by that stage. His influence though, was never forgotten. Constantly parodied in animated heavyweights such Family Guy and referenced in some of Kevin Smith's greatest work, with the director paying a touching tribute only yesterday on twitter by saying "John Hughes, the man who spoke for geeks way before anyone else did." Quite so.

Editor's Tribute
I was born in 1986 so in my short 4 years growing up in the 80s I never got a chance to fully appreciate John Hughes' "Brat Pack" classics until later on, but I remember my first experience with his films was Home Alone and thinking at the time it was the greatest thing ever next to my Transformers collection and Disney's Robin Hood. It completely captured my imagination at 4 years old, and I distinctly remember back in my infant school days drawing plans for my house in the unlikely event I would be "home alone" and up against two dodgy house bandits. My older sister however was always a fan of his work and one day, years later I decided to pillage her collection and that's where I experienced Ferris Bueller, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science (I was also a fan of the latter's TV show adaptation) on good old VHS. Everything about those movies from the iconic music that echoed the decade, to the non linear montages where characters' actions in preparing for an event are spliced together immediately before the event takes place, to and his constant use of breaking the 4th wall are aspects of his films that will be evident for decades after his unfortunate death. So tonight while I'm drinking on a Friday night in Belfast City Centre, I shall raise a glass to one of the greats of modern cinema. Still gutted there isn't really a Shermer, Illinois though...

Essentials Include....
The Breakfast Club
Sixteen Candles
Weird Science
Pretty In Pink
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Editor's choice)

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