John Hughes and eighties cinema: teenage hopes and American dreams

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Crescent Moon, 2009 - Performing Arts - 320 pages
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John Hughes is the acclaimed writer and director of Ferris Buellers Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty In Pink and many other classic movies of the 1980s.

This book is the first full-length analysis of all of John Hughess films throughout the 1980s; not only the features that he directed, but also those for which he provided the screenplay. By analysing these pictures and discussing their social and cultural significance in the wider context of the decade, Hughess importance as a filmmaker will be considered, and his prominent contribution to cinema assessed. The book concludes with a detailed analysis of Ferris Buellers Day Off, a film which is considered to be among Hughess most critically successful works and also one of his most structurally refined.


Think of the American cinema of the 1980s, and your mind is instantly bombarded by dozens and dozens of flamboyant moving images from this most distinctive of cinematic decades. You might be thinking of films which became classics such as Irvin Kershners The Empire Strikes (1980), Steven Spielbergs Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Robert Zemeckiss Back to the Future (1985), or possibly even Tim Burtons Batman (1989). It was a decade that gave birth to some film franchises one need only call to mind John Rambos explosive first appearance in Ted Kotcheffs First Blood (1982), the harrowing exploits of Officer Murphy in Paul Verhoevens RoboCop (1987), or even the improbably long-running knockabout antics of Cadet Mahoney and his fellow recruits which began with Hugh Wilsons Police Academy (1984).

It was against this creatively abundant background of the Eighties film world that audiences were first introduced to the work of influential director and screenwriter John Hughes (1950-2009). Today he is just as well known for the scripts he created for hugely popular family films throughout the 1990s, including Chris Columbuss blockbuster Home Alone (1990), Brian Levants Beethoven (1992) and Nick Castles Dennis the Menace (1993), written under his pen-name of Edmond Dants. But even these accomplishments couldnt compare to the artistic diversity of his output throughout the eighties. Although it is easy to remember Hughes for his meteorically successful teen movies right the way through the including The Breakfast Club (1985) and Ferris Buellers Day (1986), he was every bit as adroit in his handling of suburban satires such as Mr Mom (1983) and Uncle Buck (1989), his wry observations of the great American holiday in National Lampoons Vacation (1983) and The Great Outdoors (1988), the trials of an exasperated everyman commuter in Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), and the expectation of anxious new parents in Shes Having a Baby (1988). Throughout the course of Hughess career, there has rarely been a lack of variety in his choice of subject matter.

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Foreword by Alex Tucker

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