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John Hughes Pretty In Pink Molly Ringwald

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And welcome to the second edition of “College Essentials” where this time the topic is John Hughes. Last time I discussed Joy Division and gave you everything you need to have a conversation about the influential band in any college setting. For this edition, we are going to talk about John Hughes. If your first thought is “who is John Hughes?” please don’t tell me. I know that there are people out there that haven’t seen The Breakfast Club and that is perfectly fine. It just breaks my heart a little bit. But that is why we are here, so let’s not dwell on it and just move forward.

John Hughes.

john hughes the breakfast club anthony michael hall

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The king of teen coming of age films. The king of knowing exactly how you feel. The king of soundtracks. This man essentially owned the 1980s. At least cinematically. Kind of like how Maroon 5 owned 2003 with Songs About Jane. He is the father of the brat pack. He put Molly Ringwald on the map and used Matthew Broderick to teach us all how to skip school. He is a staple, not just for college but for life.

In this age of deep nostalgia for decades you were not alive in, knowing your John Hughes films is a must. So let’s pretend college is one big pop culture exam and you need something to help you cram. I’m that girl in the front of the class that made you a study guide. You’re welcome.

Director’s notes

john hughes sixteen candles with molly ringwald

(photo via moviephone)

These flash cards come stocked with everything you need to know about the influential writer and director. All wrapped up in nice little bullet points.

  • John Hughes was born in 1950 and died in 2009
  • He lived in Chicago, Illinois (although was not born there) and many of his movies take place in the area
  • Wrote 35 films
  • Most notable works are his “brat pack” films


There are way too many films to recommend and narrowing it down is hard. Really hard. But here are three must-see John Hughes films. I am not including The Breakfast Club because if you haven’t already seen it I’m sorry but there is no hope for you. (Just kidding. But only sort of.) Also, I am focusing on ones that he wrote AND directed, just to make things easier. Sorry Pretty in Pink, I love you.

Sixteen Candles (1984)

Sixteen Candles John Hughes Molly Ringwald 1984

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Sixteen Candles was Hughes’ directorial debut and was a massive hit. It stars Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall and some really hot guy whose name doesn’t matter because he didn’t really do anything else. Joan Cusack makes an epic cameo involving a water fountain. It is basically about a girl whose family forgets about her 16th birthday. Which is tragic. Don’t be turned away though, boys. There is a school dance bathroom scene I’m sure you can all relate to.

Weird Science (1985)

weird science anthony michael hall john hughes

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Starring Anthony Michael Hall (again) and a super model, this is one of the film that largely speaks out to young men. Two young boys create a dream girl through some nerdy technology and their lives change. Definitely one that everyone should see for the sheer campy-ness alone. And also because I am sick of saying “did you spit in this?” every time someone hands me food and having no one understand the reference. And yes, that is a young Robert Downey Jr. with a bra on his head. Astute observation.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

ferris bueller's day off

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Bueller…Bueller…A Matthew Broderick classic. If you haven’t seen this one either, I don’t understand what kind of childhood you had. Or how you learned how to skip school. But this is a must see. The parade scene? The parade scene. Come on. Save Ferris!


Hughes was known for his soundtracks. With good reason, the man knew how to use a song. Seriously. He used to let Molly Ringwald suggest songs so that there would be music that teens actually liked in the films. he also just understood the importance of music in storytelling. So here is a playlist of songs from movies written and/or directed by John Hughes.

Thank you, John Hughes.

John Hughes The Breakfast Club Judd Nelson

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What is your favorite John Hughes Film?