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Posted at 5:30 PM ET, 08/ 6/2009

Remembering the Teen Movies of John Hughes

By Jen Chaney

The members of John Hughes's "Breakfast Club." (Universal)

The AP and other news outlets have reported that John Hughes -- the man who essentially invented the teen movie as we now know it -- has died at the age of 59.

The writer/director behind "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club," "Pretty in Pink," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and many, many others evidently had a heart attack while taking a morning walk in Manhattan.

For any child of the '80s, this is a tremendously sad moment. His movies may not have been Academy Award winners, but they resonated enormously with anyone trying to navigate adolescence during the MTV decade.

When we felt alone, he let us join a breakfast club. When we needed a girlfriend with a flair for thrift shop fashion, he gave us Molly Ringwald. And when we craved a rebellious role model, he provided us with Bueller, Ferris Bueller, a snappy-dressing slickster who reminded us that life moves pretty fast and we really should stop and look around once in a while, even if that means stealing our best friend's father's Ferrari.

Not long ago, Liz and I argued about which John Hughes teen movie was the most important, and attempted to rank them in order of most important to least. We both agreed that "The Breakfast Club" stands above them all, but as we mourn Hughes's passing, I'd like you to vote for your favorite in the poll below. And if you want to pay tribute to another beloved Hughes movie outside the teen genre -- like a "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" or an "Uncle Buck" -- please feel free to do so in the comments below.

John Hughes, you may be gone. But your movies will never be forgotten.

We are always, sincerely yours,

The Breakfast Club

By Jen Chaney  | August 6, 2009; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Pop Culture  
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Next: Trial Date for Freeman; R.I.P., John Hughes


The soundtrack of my teen years has gone silent.

Posted by: epjd | August 6, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm was in my 20s when the teen movies came out, but my younger, then teenaged sister lived with me so I saw them all. I especially liked "Ferris" and "The Breakfast Club".
I watch Planes,Trains, and Automobiles every year while I'm making Thanksgiving dinner and I ALWAYS pull over if I need to take a jacket off or reach for something while driving!

Posted by: didnik | August 6, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

"Planes, Trains & Automobiles." The serious part caught me by surprise.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | August 6, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I remember going to see National Lampoon's Vacation at the drive in and almost driving out because I found it so unfunny. The only thing keeping me there was knowing that Caddyshack was coming on next.

I couldn't figure out why I hated it so, until years later: Chevy Chase.

Years later, however, on my own family vacation trips, I do find the following quote quite useful:

"Well I'll tell you something, this is no longer a vacation, it's a quest. It's a quest for fun, I'm gonna have fun and you're gonna have fun, we're all gonna have so much f***ing fun we'll need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles!"

Posted by: mdreader01 | August 6, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a classic. I've watched it a million times. Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club - all fantastic. Gosh, I was just getting over Michael Jackson's untimely death and now this. This really is the summer the 80s died. So sad!

Posted by: chicgrrl | August 6, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

I was in high school when Breakfast Club came out and the song "Don't You Forget About Me" was the theme song of my school's prom in 1986. The movie truly was life-changing for me. He had the ability to really capture teen angst with characters we could all relate to.

Posted by: LDRT | August 6, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

This is very sad news, indeed. My friends and I loved his movies. They were very quotable and we still use quotes from them to this day.

As an aside, I don't understand why the Washington Post would have someone who does not seem to have even seen many of Mr. Hughes' movies write his obituary - I am amazed at how many mistakes Adam Bernstein made when referencing Mr. Hughes' movies. Very unfortunate.

Posted by: JLF03 | August 6, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

This is very sad news, indeed. My friends and I loved his movies. They were very quotable and we still use quotes from them to this day.

As an aside, I don't understand why the Washington Post would have someone who does not seem to have even seen many of Mr. Hughes' movies write his obituary - I am amazed at how many mistakes Adam Bernstein made when referencing Mr. Hughes' movies. Very unfortunate.

Posted by: JLF03 | August 6, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

JLF03, You can email a message to the obituary writer by going to the following URL:
Perhaps the Post will update Hughes' obit to reflect the corrections. Best of luck.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | August 6, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

I live not far from where most of these films were posted. I almost feel compelled to make a drive up to Shermer Road.

John Hughes defined, reframed and gave teens a voice in the '80's. He will be missed.

Posted by: smy509 | August 6, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh, apparently I am prohibited from writing the word that is defined as erotic self-pleasuring.

No matter.

John Hughes was the auteur of 1980s adolescent emotional self-pleasuring.

All mourners please remember to clean your keyboards before exiting this blog.

What a bunch of self-indulgent whiners.

Posted by: angelos_peter | August 7, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

It is with a red face that I admit that whenever "Ferris Bueller" is on television, I will stop whatever I am doing and enjoy. This movie, like most Hughes films, did wallow in banality on occasion, but it was worth it to experience the gorgeously crafted moments of tenderness and comedy. Remember the museum montage in "Bueller"? The parade dance number? WOW.

Posted by: coconuthead | August 7, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

my childhood is now officially over. sigh.

Posted by: DCguy7 | August 7, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Planes, Tranes and Automobiles is THE BEST of the John Hughes' movies, although Ferris Bueller's Day Off rocks! I own Ferris Bueller on DVD though, so that might argue it's really #1 in my heart. But who cannot think John Candy is an absolute NUT??? Both are great. It's a sad day, indeed.

Posted by: dcquilter | August 7, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

"I'm a kid...that's my job." I, for whatever reason, always found that scene in Uncle Buck to be awesome. I thought it showed fine acting by Macauly Caulkin who rapidly fired off those questions with a straight face. I have no idea if it took multiple scenes or what, but, to this day, when my kids ask me a ton of questions, that pops in my head.

I will watch Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller, and Breakfast Club anytime they are on TV. I sometimes forget how 'adult' they can be at times too as I sit watching with my 8 year old. I just ask her to cover her ears.

I could go on and on....

Posted by: Mama1 | August 7, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

This is really sad. Those Chicago comedies are great. Anything with John Candy---Uncle Buck; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; The Great Outdoors (remember the old 96-er?); Christmas Vacation and Cousin Eddie. I am looking forward to a John Hughes movie marathon.

Posted by: chocolatetiara | August 7, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

It's just too sad. My all-time favorite is Pretty in Pink because you have to love Ducky and that soundtrack is killer! Outside of the teen genre though, The Great Outdoors was a movie that I watched over and over and over, and it never ceased to make me laugh.

Posted by: gobluegirl | August 7, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

this is really sad. Those movies really did frame my teenage years (not to mention the soundtracks!) Sure, as the article said, Juno and some others went beyond Hughes. But he was a trailblazer and captured the feel of the era.

Posted by: chiquita2 | August 7, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I was a freshman in college when Ferris Bueller came out. Went with a bunch of friends and the whole audience screamed on the Beatles number in the parade scene. It is one of my favorite memories. I have it on DVD and my teenage boys agree that its cool. Ferris Bueller is my favorite, without a doubt. Who has never used the Ben Stein line "Bueller.....Bueller...."?

Posted by: hodie | August 7, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Although not my favorite of his movies I found the Breakfast Club to be a fascinating study in movie making. No special effects, no chase scenes, no monsters trying to break in, just a movie about kids who don't know each other who were stuck in a room they did not want to be in and dialog that rivoted teenagers. That's not easy. A real talent has passed.

Posted by: Fate1 | August 7, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Job Candy does anyone remember The Fishin' Musician on Second City TV? The best was when he hosted Wendy O'Williams and she destroyed his cabin during her song and his dog Buck, a black lab, turned white! Another talent that passed too soon.

Posted by: Fate1 | August 7, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

You can't beat The Donger! Just for the political incorrectness of it and the fact that characters like him can no longer exist in movies.

"No more yankee for my wankee, Donger need food!"

Posted by: filmstarctf | August 7, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

This is a GREAT link to someone who was pen pals with John Hughes - very insightful:

Posted by: Smitty19 | August 7, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

While I love all of them my favorite would have to be The Breakfast Club - endearing, funny and the most honest depiction of teens of my day that I had ever seen.

But I'll tell you the funniest thing that John Hughes ever wrote - it was during his National Lampoon days and it was the basis of the Christmas Vacation movie. I used to read that story every year and every year I would laugh so hard that I couldn't breath. If you thought the Vacation movies were funny the original stories were a hundred times funnier. I wish some publisher would collect Mr Hughes' written work so everyone could see a comedic genuis at his best.

Posted by: dre7861 | August 7, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Hughes was an unreal film maker. Films such as Ferris Bueller's Day off and Planes, Tranes, and Automobiles are timeless classics because they give you the emotional and comedic essence of who we are as Americans - at our best. His movies we not "teen movies" but classic Americana.

Posted by: brownlou | August 7, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I am so sad. Whoever said it above was right on - this is the death of the 80s summer.

"Something d-o-o economics? Voo-doo economics?"
"I just got felt up by my grandma."

RIP John Hughes. My younger years wouldn't have been the same.

Posted by: blahblah6b | August 7, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

One forgotten movie of his that's worth seeing is "She's Having a Baby." Does a nice job with new-dad terror.

ON the other hand, I still resent learning from "Pretty in Pink" that I was never going to win my high school's Molly Ringwald.

Posted by: proxl | August 7, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

As a new father, I have a a greater appreication for his work "She's Having A Baby" The delivery scene is so moving and perfectly executed in all aspects: lighting, music, and acting. No doubt he helped define the 80s buthis talent was in being relevent to both teens and adults with the scope of his work. Thank you Mr. Hughes.

Posted by: SoccerGuru | August 7, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

One last Roll Call...


Posted by: SoccerGuru | August 7, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"Some Kind of Wonderful" has the BEST. Onscreen. Kiss. EVER.

Posted by: brownljb | August 7, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Certainly John Hughes was the best writer/director of his time. His movies were the best. They used to call them "coming of age" movies.

Rest well John Hughes, and thanks for all the great movies.

Posted by: lindalovejones | August 7, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Just finished reading your chat, and now remember my favorite (or at least most-often imitated) scene from a JH movie.

Almost every time my best friend and I call to catch up, one of us will just shout out "Rooney!" and the other will go "Uh..uh...uh...." Grace gives the best/worst imitation...

Posted by: lord_rockumus | August 7, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Although it never was that popular, Weird Science was always my favorite. So many one-liners and catch phrases. For example, "I want to butter your muffin", or "he's an a-hole, anyone with a hair cut like that (one that is common today) has to be an a-hole". Or that scene in the black bar ... hilarious.

Perhaps it's just because I am a former dork who grew up to become a scientist.

Posted by: jon11 | August 7, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

"Up Batta..batta..batta..he canna....canna...canna...swiiiiiing betta"...(Classic)

I'm watching FB 2nite in honor of one of the geratest...what would have the 80's been like without John Hughes. I survived the teen years laughing at his stuff!

RIP Hughes. Bip Ups!

Posted by: michelleware | August 7, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

My favorite John Hughes movie was Breakfast Club. All of his movies had good story-lines. I am however concerned why there is no diversity in his movies. All of the characters and settings depicted White America, which leaves me to think that he made a conscious decision to leave out minorities and target only white teens. I would also had liked to know what was his perception and views towards minorities before I could all around say he was a good person, like some of you have stated above without knowing him. By the way all of his movies left out minorities.

Posted by: JBoyd81 | August 7, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget, Hughes was a writer before he was a director. His original story for what became "National Lampoon's Vacation" was originally published in that magazine as "Vacation '58" - hilarious. The original story used the actual Disneyland, and ended with the father shooting Walt Disney in the leg. Almost makes up for all those "Beethoven" movies.

Posted by: eyeater | August 7, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Our thirty-something daughter loved Ferris. She used the Ben Stein's Bueller, Bueller for her cell phone voice mail. Her old foggy Dad kept hanging up because he thought he had reached the wrong number. I had seen the movie with our daughter and new instantly I had the right number. This was her generations "Graduate".

Posted by: daburge | August 7, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

My wife and I watched Sixteen Candles last night. There wasn't a movie of his we don't enjoy.

Posted by: jaygatsby27 | August 7, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

"The Breakfast Club" is my favorite, but the funniest has to be "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles." It has so many hilarious sequences that the best thing to do is make sure that it is the next movie you watch!

Sincerely yours,

The Breakfast Club

Posted by: dreshanyfe | August 8, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

My daughter was watching episodes of Hannah Montana ad nauseum this past weekend. Just occured to me that one of the main characters (Miley's TV boyfriend) was named "Jake Ryan" in homage to Sixteen Candles.

Posted by: vegmom | August 10, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

1. Sixteen Candles 2. Ferris Bueller 3. Weird Science (so underrated) 4. Pretty in Pink

I guess the B'fast Club didn't really resemble the kids at my school, so I thought it was a bit overblown. Interesting to see how much other people love it.

Posted by: msame | August 10, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

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