Friday, August 07, 2009

John Hughes, R.I.P.

[I never do this, but with the passing of John Hughes yesterday, it seemed appropriate to re-post some thoughts I had on him back in 2006. I had always hoped he'd make a comeback, but in the words of Del Griffith, one of Hughes' more endearing creations, "I guess that's not gonna happen. Not now, anyway." If you were, as I was, a teenager in the mid '80's there's a pretty good chance that this guy was your Shakespeare.]

I've lately been pondering the career of John Hughes. (And yes, I'm aware of how sad that is.)

My recollections were occasioned by a Weekly review of a new DVD version of "Ferris Bueller" that's coming out.

I don't know that there's ever been a bigger seven or eight year streak in the history of movies. From 1983 to 1990, he either wrote or directed (and in some cases both) the following films:
Mr. Mom (1983)
Vacation (1983)
Sixteen Candles (1984)
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Weird Science (1985)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
She's Having a Baby (1988)
Uncle Buck (1989)
Christmas Vacation (1989)
Home Alone (1990)
I haven't even included some others during that period that stunk, like "European Vacation" and "The Great Outdoors."

Isolate only at the ones he directed. In one six year period as a writer/director, he cranked out:
Sixteen Candles
The Breakfast Club
Weird Science
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
She's Having a Baby
Uncle Buck
I think that's virtually unprecedented. These films might not be to everyone's taste (and with the exception of “Ferris” and “Uncle Buck,” none of them pushed the $80 million box office mark), but for people of my generation, these are seminal pictures. There's not a clunker in the bunch (though I know some might quibble with one here or there). There's not one on there I don't stop to watch when I pass by it flipping through channels.

Who has ever put a list together like that in that amount of time? Granted, he wasn't doing gritty, edgy stuff like Scorsese or something, but this guy was the Frank Capra of his time. "Home Alone" is the highest-grossing live-action comedy of all time, for goodness sakes.

And yet the guy hasn't directed a movie since "Curly Sue" in 1991--15 years ago. It's Jim Brown. It's Barry Sanders. It's Jordan, if he had stayed retired the first time. How do you put together that career in six years and then disappear? Where is he? At IMDB (which is where I got all this info), he appears to only be cranking out lousy, straight-to-video sequels of "Home Alone" and "Beethoven" as a writer anymore. Under a pseudonym, no less.

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