What is with you people? If I don’t have a blog about someone two seconds after learning of their passing you get all jiggy on me.
Easy… easy… This one took me by surprise and really shook me up. So here it is.
The sudden passing of John Hughes affects me on two levels. First off, it scares the shit out of me… 59 years old and dropping dead of a heart attack in NYC. If that does not make you feel mortal, I don’t know what would… and as many of you know by reading this blog, I feel pretty mortal lately. I still think I’m gonna hold on to be 99 and pass on the eve of 100… but knowing that you might have less than 20 years to make your mark on the world, well, that is daunting. I feel no further along than I was right out of school… and we all know how Hollywood loves age!
John Hughes has not worked in Hollywood in years, yet his films leave the most pleasant of marks and will last because of his genius and amazing insight… First and foremost he was a writer… and a damn fine one at that… Vacation anyone? You still laugh your ass off whenever you see that movie… no matter where you pick it up from. Classic comedy. All time top comedy list easy.
Then he added director to his skill set… 16 Candles… The Breakfast Club… Ferris Bueller’s Day Off… And you all know that we all still say… “Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?”
Hell, each and every one of us… at least people around my age, can quote endlessly from those films. While we were watching them we had no idea of the genius behind them. They were just funny and raw and dealt with teenagers as they rarely had been dealt with on screen… like real people with real problems that made a real difference. Think about his use of music… We all probably own every one of those soundtracks. I know I do! And come on… Simple Minds? How big do you smile when “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” comes on the radio? And what do you think of??? You think of the movie… and all the scenes you love… and those characters who we could all relate to… and of course… “Chicks can’t hold their smoke, dat’s what it is…”
I had the good luck of going to school in Chicago. It is a smaller and friendlier New York… Great food, fantastic theatre and culture, beautiful women and the nicest people around. It’s my kind of town… Thanks, Frank… and thanks Jimmy Van Heusen!
And while I will never stray from my Big Apple, I do love the second city…
And so did Mr. Hughes… He is to Chicago what Woody Allen is to New York, and almost all his movies are love songs to that city on the lake… loving tributes… The city and the suburbs are deeply developed and well thought out characters. You can feel it… he made the city alive!
When I think of John Hughes, I think of Cameron Crowe… another favorite filmmaker of mine who creates such beautiful, dynamic and always interesting characters… and knows how to use music in the best possible way.
Ahhh… damn right I’m listening to The Breakfast Club soundtrack right now!
And then there was a film like Planes, Trains and Automobiles that took the buddy comedy to such a deep and moving level… and again… it was hysterical… John Candy and my all time favorite Steve Martin… Priceless.
So what is there to say?
John Hughes’ influence lives on… Just listen to the actors who he made famous… The Brat Pack… Listen to today’s filmmakers, like the comedy powerhouse Judd Apatow… He paved the road for so many of us…
He died way too early… way too soon… My thoughts and prayers go out to his family… But what he leaves behind is more than a legacy… He leaves us laughter and tears… music and joy… He leaves us a cinematic world which we loved to live in. We still allow his movies to wrap around us and warm our souls… They are what I lovingly call comfort films… kind of like the way Mac and Cheese sticks to your ribs and makes you feel safe and satisfied. The movies of John Hughes will live on… And when she’s ready… or maybe when I’m ready… I’m gonna sit down with my daughter and watch each and every one!
I miss the 80s… Tommy Tutone… The Knack… Simple Minds… and the films of John Hughes… But they’re still right there whenever we need them. Always will be.