Sunday, April 15, 2012

Star Making Roles Part 3: John Hughes

I woke up in this morning and was in the mood from lighthearted 80s fun, so what's better than John Hughes film.  I picked my one of my favorite Hughes' films, Sixteen Candles (1984) starring the iconic 80s star Molly Ringwald.  Except for the somewhat racist gong that signals Long Duck Dong's every action this film is a great movie and introduced the world to one of the first actors who played a significant role in John Hughes films and in the landscape of popular culture during the 80s.

John Hughes was an incredible magic maker with film in the 80s and early 90s.  What people assume is that he directed most of the film he is associated with, but in reality he only directed 8 films which included: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes Trains and Automobiles, She's Having a Baby, Uncle Buck, and Curly Sue.  Hughes was also associated with many other films as a writer, there films included: Vacation, Some Kind of Wonderful, Christmas vacation, Home Alone and Home Alone 2.

Hughes had a great deal of impact in the world of film. He was never nominated for an Academy Award nominated, and none of his films deserved a nomination, but the cultural impact of these films was indelible.  Even though he never had a nomination from the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences (the Oscars), at the ceremony two years the actors who helped make his films what they are honored him in a special in memoriam.  Hughes past away at the young age of 59 in August 2009.

The first crown jewel in his career is the star of his first film Sixteen Candles.  Molly Ringwald represented the average girl of the 1980s; she was cute, and represented the average young woman well.  The current film landscape often prevents actresses that look like her from becoming major leading ladies in films (but that's another story.)  Sixteen Candles was he first film with John Hughes.  Prior to this Ringwald's big screen success she had a major role in the first season of the television series The Facts of Life, when the cast was trimmed down Molly was let go, and it was probably one of the best things that happened, in her early career.  Sixteen Candles was her first major film role, and it launched her on the fast track to being one of the most memorable names in film.  Ringwald became part of what is known as the Brat Pack.  The Brat Pack emerged primarily from Hughes films.

The most interesting thing about Ringwald's career is that her fame came from three films, all either written, directed, or produced by John Hughes.  After Sixteen Candles she starred in two other films both written and produced by Hughes.  The first film was The Breakfast Club (1985) where Ringwald played the spoiled popular girl in high school who lands in detention.  In 1986 Ringwald starred in Pretty in Pink where she played Andie the girl from the other side of the tracks who fell in love with a popular rich boy played by Andrew McCarthy.  These three films had a tremendous impact on the 80s and the teen generation of this time.  I grew up watching these movies with my parents.  Hughes Molly Ringwald films represent the time period and act as a time capsule of youth culture during this time period.  Molly Ringwald was an it girl of the 80s.

Today Ringwald's career has taken a nose dive throughout most of the 90s she had roles in failed television shows, and bit parts in film.  One great cameo was in Not Another Teen Movie where she mocked the cliche aspects of high schools films.  Ringwald currently has a starring role on the hit ABC Family series Secret Life of the American Teenager.  This marked her her first successful vehicle in more than a decade.  While her career has faded Ringwald still represents some of the best moments in 1980s cinema.

Of course after watching Sixteen Candles I had to watch one of my other favorite John Hughes film, Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  The star of the film Matthew Broderick has had one of the longest careers in his post John Hughes world.  Broderick only starred in one of his films, but Ferris Bueller was an incredible film that launched this guy into superstar status.  Critic Richard Roeper cites this film as one of the best films of all time, and his favorite.  The film has an energy, and it's Hughes best directorial work ever.

After starring in this film Broderick established a decent career in film and television landing roles in Glory, The Freshman, doing voice work for the animated feature The Lion King, and guest starring on hit shows like 30 Rock.  While the mainstream public may know his wife better (Sarah Jessica Parker) Broderick's Broadway career has allowed this man to have a truly wonderful career.  Broderick has two Tony Awards, and is cited as one of the youngest Tony winners of all time;  he is also a part of the dynamic duo that brought one of the most famous musical to the stage, The Producers.

While Broderick and Ringwald's careers have had different trajectories they have one thing in common, John Hughes.  Hughes started many careers, but these two had the most impact.  Hughes also not only started a dynamic change in film, and for that I say, danke schoen.

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