Today, I wanted to celebrate my favorite screenwriter, John Hughes, as today would’ve been his 65th birthday! Hughes wrote two of my favorite movies — Home Alone and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off — among many others, including The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Uncle Buck, and National Lampoon’s Vacation.
He went to high school in Illinois (fellow Midwesterner!), and his high school would become the inspiration for several of his films. But before his movie career, he wrote jokes for comedians, including Joan Rivers, and also served as ad copywriter.
I’m going to do all my movies here in Chicago. The ‘Tribune’ referred to me as a ‘former Chicagoan.’ As if, to do anything, I had to leave Chicago. I never left. I worked until I was 29 at the Leo Burnett advertising agency, and then I quit to do this. This is a working city, where people go to their jobs and raise their kids and live their lives.
Vacation was his first success in written film, and Sixteen Candles was his first success as a director — it kicked off his string of movies geared around high schoolers. His biggest commercial success was Home Alone.
I’ve always loved Home Alone and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and it took me years to discover they were both written by Hughes, despite obvious similarities — both are set in Chicago suburbia, both focus around a character that wants to suspend his normal life, get away from his family, only to get what he wants, and realize that what he has is ultimately good. Both movies utilize intense monologues. And both movies are, of course, hilarious.
Aside from being the writer for some of my favorite movies, I look up to Hughes for writing more than 30 screenplays — I’ve wanted to get into screenwriting for a long time. I can appreciate any writer who takes what they know, even if it’s something as simple as life in high school, and turn it into a great piece of work, let alone a pop culture phenomenon.
I’d rather stir controversy than just… fade away.
—John Hughes, 1950-2009
The Oscars did a beautiful tribute to John in 2010, featuring several of the lead actors and actresses in his iconic films:
To learn more about John Hughes’ timeless films, check out Entertainment Weekly’s article, “John Hughes’ 12 Essential Films.”