A lot of folks in their forties will be hauling out their fingerless gloves, vintage hats, taffeta and Simple Minds albums when they hear that John Hughes has died, apparently of a heart attack while walking with his family in New York, at 59. As a director, writer, and producer Hughes created his own mini-genre of teen comedy-drama with hits like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful, and Pretty in Pink. (Certainly everyone knows what a “John Hughes comedy” means, whether Hughes made it or not.) These were mostly similar to the teen-oriented films of previous eras — parents did not understand, youth would be served — but were thick with a deadpan “whatever” anomie and sarcasm, embodied in the inexpressive features of Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall, that mirrored what the cool kids were signifying in the 1980s, and to a great extent still are (until the finish, when sentiment conquers all). Whether these films stand the test of time better than The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis is yet to be seen, but critics strongly approved some of his work (Planes, Trains and Automobiles is on Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list), and audiences ate it up; the Home Alone and Beethoven movies he wrote were also gold mines.
Sound of the City has a lovely video tribute.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 6, 2009