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In Memory of Hollywood Director John Hughes

On August 6, 2009 the talented director, writer, and producer John Hughes passed away. He will forever be remembered for helping lead an entire generation through the 1980s with his iconic films and for launching the careers of many previously unknown teen actors. In this video, takes look at highlights from Hughes' career and his impact on Hollywood.

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Helping lead an entire generation through the 1980s with his iconic films; director, writer and producer John Hughes was responsible for launching the careers of many previously unknown teen actors. Hey, welcome to, I’m Derek Allen and today we will be looking back at the career of John Hughes, and the mark he and his films have left on pop culture.

Born in Lansing, Michigan in 1950, John Hughes first got his taste for writing while working as an ad copywriter in Chicago. He would soon transition into writing comedy, and his story ‘Vacation ‘58’ would land him on staff of National Lampoon Magazine. The story described his family trips as a child and would be the basis for the 1983 film National Lampoon’s Vacation, starring Chevy Chase.

Other stories that Hughes penned while at National Lampoon Magazine would show his strong understanding of teenage culture. He refused to portray teenagers in the usual Hollywood manner as immoral and ignorant, Hughes saw teenagers to be especially bright and deserving of respect. He would take this viewpoint, and apply it to four films he wrote and directed between 1984 and 1986. Led off by Sixteen Candles, his directorial debut, and followed by The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, these films would be praised for their realistic depiction of high-school life, and also for being some of the most popular comedy films of the decade. Hughes also broke film convention by having his characters stop to address the camera and audience, which symbolized that they knew they were being watched; as well as having the action continue after the end credits.

These films would be a big part of the Brat Pack era; the Brat Pack being a nickname given to a group of young fresh actors and actresses of the time who frequently appeared together in teen-based coming of age movies.

Hughes' use of popular music in his films is another aspect of his filmmaking that cannot be overlooked. His ability to capture the emotional cues of a film with the addition of select songs such as Simple Minds "Dont you forget about me" or Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work", remains an essential and unforgettable part of many of his movies from the 1980's.

Following his remarkable success in this genre, Hughes shifted his attention to adults with his 1987 comedy “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” This began a series of films starring John Candy, such as 1988’s “The Great Outdoors” and 1989’s “Uncle Buck”.

“Uncle Buck” introduced Hughes to child actor Macauley Culkin who soon after starred in 1990’s “Home Alone”. With this film Hughes almost single handedly saved a cash-strapped 20th Century Fox. The film, which he had written and produced generated $500 Million worldwide and became his biggest and final hit. Despite becoming a holiday staple, it still generated most of the negative publicity of his career for its loud and fairly violent slapstick comedy.

His following project, 1991’s Curly Sue” was given a luke-warm reception and dismissed as an overly sentimental family comedy. He then decided to serve only as writer and producer on all his following film projects.

Hughes continued to focus on pre-teens in the movies he would write and produce. Critics in turn felt he had traded his sharp writing and dialogue for crude, broad based humor. These films included “Beethoven”, “Denise the Menace” and “Baby’s Day Out”.

His involvement with 1994’s remake of “A Miracle on 34th Street” brought him scathing criticism yet again, and in turn he began penning and producing remakes for Disney. These remakes, such as “101 Dalmatians” and ”Flubber” were financial successes and wildly popular with audiences, however he never regained the glaring success that his first films had brought him.

Hughes’s final major film project was “Home Alone 3” in 1997. It was panned as a terrible entry in the series and was quickly pulled from the box office. Like the film, Hughes faded away from the spotlight and turned his back on Hollywood. He spent the last decade of his life as a farmer in the Mid-Western state of Illinois. During that time he still sparingly penned scripts to films under the fake identity of Edmond Dantes, named after the character from “The Man in the Iron Mask”, as Hughes considered himself a prisoner of his own success. His last screenplay was the 2008 film “Drillbit Taylor”.

Despite John Hughes later difficulty in re-capturing his early success, his reputation as one of the leading interpreters of teenage life remains popular. He is also recognized as the main inspiration for directors, like Kevin Smith, who would follow in his footsteps.

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