If you grew up in the Eighties like I did, there is no doubt that one of your favorite films is a John Hughes flick. Sadly, Hughes died Thursday at the young age of 59 from a heart attack.
For years and years this writer/director brought Hollywood to Chicago. “I’m going to do all my movies here in Chicago,” he told Roger Ebert years ago. “The Tribune referred to me as a ‘former Chicagoan.’ As if, to do anything, I had to leave Chicago. I never left. I worked until I was 29 at the Leo Burnett advertising agency, and then I quit to do this. This is a working city, where people go to their jobs and raise their kids and live their lives. In Hollywood, I’d be hanging around with a lot of people who don’t have to pay when they go to the movies.”
He is well known for stories of teen angst. “These are just simple truths about people and families. I happen to go for the simplest, most ordinary things. The extraordinary doesn’t interest me. I’m not interested in psychotics. I’m interested in the person you don’t expect to have a story. I like Everyman,” Hughes told the New York Times in 1991.
Hughes spent his teen years in Northbrook, a leafy suburb of Chicago that provided the backdrop for many of his best known films.
Check out this list of movies he wrote and directed in which he turned the City of Chicago or its environs into one of the characters:
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
“Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Right on, Ferris, you righteous dude. It’s a lovefest for Chicago in this fun-filled classic. Ferris, his droopy friend Cameron, and hot gal pal Sloan tear up the city during Ferris’ “sick” day outing. The Art Institute, Wrigley Field, Sears (ahem Willis) Tower, and The Board of Trade get ample screen time. And no one has forgotten the fun musical MTV-like video of Ferris’ rendition of the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” during the parade around Daley Plaza.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
“I got you for two weeks Bender,” a great line from one of my favorite movies of all time which gave birth to the infamous brat pack. The Breakfast Club was all character driven and they were all so good. The film, which was shot entirely in sequence, partly takes place inside Glenbrook North High School in Hughes former home of Northbrook, IL. The library in which most of the movie takes place was actually constructed in the gymnasium of Maine North High School specifically for the film. The school closed down in 1982, two years before filming began. In fact, it is said that Hughes did not allow the actors to leave the high school for their own lunch break… instead they had to have it in the school’s cafeteria. Classic.
Sixteen Candles (1984)
“What’s happenin’ hot stuff?’ says crazy Long Duk Dong in another Hughes classis, Sixteen Candles. Of course the Donger (as he’s affectionately known) is nowhere near as dreamy as teen heartthrob Jake who eventually falls for Sam. According to IMDB, a good part of the movie was filmed at Niles East High School in Skokie, Illinois. Some of the students in the big party scene are wearing Niles East Trojans jackets and shirts. This high school had been closed for more than ten years when the filming started and has since been completely remodeled because it’s now part of Oakton Community College. During the dance scene, John Cusack is wearing a WLS t-shirt. Although it currently has a talk-radio format, in 1984, WLS was a top-40 station in Chicago. And of course, I worked at their TV Station counterpart, WLS-TV – ABC7 Chicago.
Some other very famous Hughes flicks:
- Mr. Mom (1983)
- National Lampoon’s Vacation (1984)
- Pretty in Pink (1986)
- Planes, Trains, & Automobiles (1987)
- Home Alone (1990)