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10 of the Best John Hughes Movies

His legend will live on.

If you grew up in the 80’s or just love 80’s movies, then there is a big chance you would have seen a John Hughes movie sometime in your life!

John Hughes was an American movie director, producer, and screenwriter. He directed and scripted some of the most well-known and successful comedy films of the 1980s and early 1990s. Some of these movies include the comedy National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), the coming-of-age comedy Sixteen Candles (1984), the teen sci-fi comedy Weird Science (1985), the coming-of-age comedy-drama The Breakfast Club (1985), the coming-of-age comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), the romantic comedy-drama Pretty in Pink (1986), the romance Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), the comedies Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) and Uncle Buck (1989), the Christmas family comedy Home Alone (1990) and its sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992).

Hughes is known for his work on teen movies and for helping launch the careers of numerous actors, including Matthew Broderick, Macaulay Culkin, Michael Keaton, Bill Paxton, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, and the rest of the Brat Pack group.

A few things I have noticed is that most of the characters in John’s films seem to be upper-middle class and reside in huge houses. You only have to look at the McAllister home in Home Alone, the Bueller’s mansion and Wyatt’s house in Weird Science. The only people who don’t live in these houses are the characters that are classed as being working-class, such as Andie in Pretty in Pink, cousin Eddie in the Vacation movies and Buck from Uncle Buck. These characters will always drive a dilapidated vehicle too!

Most of John’s movies are either set in Hughes’ childhood home of Chicago, Illinois. If they are not set there then the characters are either from Chicago, or are trying to get back to Chicago!

On August 6, 2009, Hughes suffered a severe heart attack while in Manhattan. He was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. He was 59 years old. His legend will live on.

10: Pretty in Pink


10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Year: 1986

Cast: Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, Jon Cryer, James Spader

Made in 1986, this “Brat Pack” romantic comedy-drama film is all about love and social cliques in 1980s American high schools. It is just one of the many John Hughes films starring Molly Ringwald.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

High school senior Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) is a working-class girl who has a crush on one of the rich, preppy boys in her school, Blain McDonough (Andrew McCarthy). When Andie and Blane try to get together, they encounter resistance from their respective social circles. Andie lives on “the wrong side of the tracks” with her underemployed father, Jack (Harry Dean Stanton). Andie’s best friend, Phil “Duckie” Dale (Jon Cryer), is in love with her, but plays it off as a joke in front of her.

I do have to admit it, but Cryer’s character Duckie is soooo annoying in this film, and also Blane played by McCarthy is a bit wet, but, it is one of those feel good movie where everything works out in the end, even for Duckie!

Facts: Anthony Michael Hall was originally cast as Phil “Duckie” Dale, but turned the role down, fearing being typecast as a “geek”. John Hughes thought of casting Robert Downey Jr. for the part of Duckie. Jon Cryer was ultimately cast in the role.

The part of Andie was written with Ringwald in mind. When first asked, Ringwald was reluctant, but after seeing how hard it was for the producers to find a replacement for her, she decided she would indeed portray Andie in the film. Hughes was very happy and knew that the film wouldn’t be the same unless Ringwald played the main character.

The original ending was changed as test audiences did not like the fact that Andie ended up with Duckie!

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

9: Christmas Vacation


10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Year: 1989

Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, Randy Quaid.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

The third instalment in the long line of ‘Vacation’ movies starring the Griswold family. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a 1989 Christmas comedy film directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik and was written by John Hughes, based on his short story in National Lampoon magazine, “Christmas ’59”. Since its release in 1989, Christmas Vacation has often been labeled as a modern Christmas classic.

With Christmas only a few weeks away, Chicago resident Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) decides it is time to get a Christmas tree. He gathers his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), daughter Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and son Rusty (Johnny Galecki) and drives out to the country where he picks out a huge tree. Realizing too late that they didn’t bring any tools to cut the tree down, they are forced to uproot it instead.

Soon after, both Clark’s and Ellen’s parents arrive to spend Christmas, but their bickering quickly begins to annoy the family. Clark, however, maintains a positive attitude, determined to have a “good old-fashioned family Christmas.

Clark is shocked to see Ellen’s cousin Catherine (Miriam Flynn) and her dense but big hearted husband Eddie Johnson (Randy Quaid), as they arrive unannounced with their children, Rocky and Ruby Sue. Eddie later admits that they are living in the RV they drove to reach Chicago, as he is broke and has been forced to sell his home. Clark offers to buy gifts for Eddie’s kids, to help them have a good Christmas.

Facts: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation originated from a short story written by John Hughes called “Christmas ’59,” which was published in the December 1980 issue of National Lampoon magazine. “The studio came to me and begged for another one, and I only agreed because I had a good story to base it on,” said Hughes. “But those movies have become little more than Chevy Chase vehicles.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Although the ‘Vacation’ universe does not completely follow each movie, because they change the Griswold child actors and swap around their ages in every vacation movie. There is a reference in one scene to the first film where Clarke and Eddie are drinking eggnog from Wally World wine glasses. Wally World being the Theme park featured in the first ‘Vacation’ instalment.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

8: The Great Outdoors


10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Year: 1988

Cast: John Candy, Dan Akroyd, Annette Benning.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

It’s the first of five movies that John Candy collaborated with John Hughes. Chicagoan Chester “Chet” Ripley (Candy), his wife, Connie (Faracy), and their two sons, Buckley “Buck” (Young) and Ben (Giatti), are on vacation at a lake resort in Pechoggin, Wisconsin during the summer. All is going as planned until Connie’s sister, Kate (Bening), Kate’s investment broker husband, Roman Craig (Aykroyd), and their twin daughters, Mara and Cara (Rebecca and Hilary Gordon), crash the vacation.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

7: Weird Science


10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Year: 1985

Cast: Anthony Michael Hall, Kelly Le Brock, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Bill Paxton and Robert Downey Jnr

Weird Science is a 1985 American teen comic science fiction film written and directed by John Hughes and starring Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, and Kelly Le Brock.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Anthony Michael Hall, like John Candy also featured in a number of John Hughes films too. Gary Wallace and Wyatt Donnelly are nerdy social outcasts. Dejected and disappointed at their direction in life and wanting more and while alone for the weekend with Wyatt’s parents gone, Gary is inspired by the 1931 classic Frankenstein to create a virtual girl using Wyatt’s computer; infusing her with everything they can conceive to make the perfect dream girl.

Fact: The film is based on the story “Made of the Future” from on EC Comics magazine ‘Weird Science’.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

6: Uncle Buck


10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Year: 1989

Cast: John Candy, Macaulay Culkin.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Bob and Cindy Russell and their three kids, 15-year-old Tia, 10-year-old Miles, and 6-year-old Maizy, have recently moved from Indianapolis, Indiana to the Chicago, Illinois suburbs because of Bob’s promotion. Tia resents her parents for the move. Late one night, they receive a phone call from Indianapolis informing them that Cindy’s father has suffered a heart attack. They make plans to leave immediately to be with him. After hearing the news, Tia accuses Cindy of abandoning her father.

Bob suggests asking his brother, Buck (Candy), to come watch the children, to which Cindy objects. While they are upper middle-class suburbanites, Buck is unemployed, lives in a small apartment in the city, enjoys drinking and smoking, and earns his living by betting on rigged horse races.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

5: National Lampoon’s Vacation


10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Year: 1983

Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, Randy Quaid, John Candy

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

The first and best in the long-running Vacation movies series. National Lampoon’s Vacation, sometimes referred to as Vacation, is a comedy directed by the late Harold Ramis and starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Dana Barron, and Anthony Michael Hall. John Candy, Imogene Coca, Christie Brinkley, and a young Jane Krakowski appear in supporting roles.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), wanting to spend more time with his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and children Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) and Audrey (Dana Barron), decides to lead the family on a cross-country expedition from the Chicago area to the Los Angeles amusement park Walley World, billed as “America’s Favorite Family Fun Park.” Ellen wants to fly, but Clark insists on driving, so he can bond with his family. It doesn’t go to plan!

Facts: In Hughes’ original short story, the theme park was Disneyland. To avoid legal troubles, all of the names associated with Disneyland were altered to sound-alikes. For instance, the park became Walley World, itself a good-natured parody of the Anaheim location, and the mascot, Marty Moose, is reminiscent of Walt Disney’s own Mickey Mouse. Similarly, Roy Walley’s appearance bears similarities to that of Disney and his name is similar to that of his brother Roy Disney.

In the film, the Walley World theme park is represented by Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. Santa Anita Park’s large parking lot and blue-tinged fascia served as the exterior of Walley World, while all park interior scenes were shot at Magic Mountain. The two roller coasters seen in the film are Revolution, which can be recognized by the vertical loop, and Colossus, the double-track wooden roller coaster.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

4: Home Alone


10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Year: 1990

Cast: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O’Hara

This is a true holiday classic and is often ranked among the greatest Christmas films of all-time. It’s the film that catapulted Culkin into the young mega star he once was.

Home Alone which written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus. The film stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, a boy who is mistakenly left behind when his family flies to Paris for their Christmas vacation. Kevin initially relishes being home alone, but soon has to contend with two would-be burglars played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern with a whole lot of cartoon styled violence.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

There’s quite a few things that bug me about this great movie. Firstly, the biggest annoyance is the hypocritical McCallister mum, who moans at everybody except herself for leaving a child alone at Christmas. The fact that the parents are so neglectful towards their children that they don’t even check themselves that all their children are present before leaving. To top that off shove the kids in economy class, while they fly in first class sipping champagne!

And, how come none of the posh houses in the neighbourhood have security alarms?

Fact: Chris Columbus got his big break directing this feature and was only given the chance because he was originally set to direct National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation instead. He found Chevy Chase too difficult to work with, so as a gesture John Hughes asked Chris to direct this movie instead.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

3: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Year: 1986

Cast: Mathew Broderick, Mia Sara, Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey, Alan Ruck

The film follows high school senior Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), who skips school and spends the day in downtown Chicago along with his girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) and best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck). He creatively avoids his school’s dean of students Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), his resentful sister Jeannie (Jennifer Grey), and his parents. During the film, Bueller regularly breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the camera to explain to the audience his thoughts and techniques.

I’m not a fan of Broderick, but this movie is awesome right up until the end credits have finished, literally. I can see why Ferris gets away with everything he does because his parents seemed to be totally blind of what’s going at times. For example, Mr Bueller sits in a taxi adjacent to the kids when they are stuck in traffic. He then drives past Ferris while he’s running home and doesn’t notice him again and his sister nearly runs him over and Mrs Bueller doesn’t seem to notice a thing as to why her daughter has slammed on the brakes. You cannot beat Jeffrey Jones who is so excellently cast as the school dean. I just wished Cameron would have let Ferris take the blame for the car though!

Facts: Other actors who were considered for the role included Jim Carrey, John Cusack, Tom Cruise and Michael J. Fox. Ruck had previously auditioned for the Bender role in The Breakfast Club which went to Judd Nelson, but Hughes remembered Ruck and cast him as the 17-year-old Cameron Frye. According to Hughes, the character of Cameron was based, in large part, on a friend of his in high school.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

2: The Breakfast Club


10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Year: 1985

Cast: Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy.

The Breakfast Club is a coming-of-age comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes and starring Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, John Kapelos, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

This the definite 80s teen movie. The storyline follows five teenagers, each a member of a different high school clique, who spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all more than their respective stereotypes, while facing a strict disciplinarian principal. Great soundtrack too!

Facts: Filming took place at Maine North High School in Des Plaines, Illinois, shuttered in 1981. Hughes later used the same setting for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, released one year after The Breakfast Club.

The Breakfast Club is known as the “quintessential 1980s film” and is considered as one of the best films of 1985. In 2008, Empire magazine ranked it #369 on their The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time list. It then rose a remarkable 331 places to rank at #38 on their 2014 list. Similarly, The New York Times placed the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list and Entertainment Weekly ranked the film number 1 on its list of the 50 Best High School Movies.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

1: Planes, Trains & Automobiles


10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Year: 1987

Cast: Steve Martin, John Candy

Well, not only is this the best John Hughes film, but in my opinion, one of the best films ever made! The film has everything you need in a family fun film – perfect cast (including the cameos) and characters, humour, warmth, the locations, action and a lot of heart. I think I can relate to this film because I’ve endured quite a few travelling woes in my time with having my family scattered around the country. Also I think there is a bit of Neal Page in me too! This film was the main reason I started this post, because originally it was just going to be ‘the 10 reasons why Planes, Trains and Automobiles is the best film ever!’

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

John Hughes didn’t want to be pigeon-holed as ‘that guy who writes teen movies‘, so wrote this absolute gem. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a comedy film written, produced and directed by John Hughes. The film stars Steve Martin as Neal Page, a high-strung marketing executive, who meets Del Griffith, played by John Candy, an eternally optimistic, outgoing, overly talkative, and clumsy shower curtain ring salesman who seems to live in a world governed by a different set of rules. They share a three-day odyssey of misadventures trying to get Neal home to Chicago from New York City in time for Thanksgiving dinner with his family.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

What’s my fave bit? The whole film! There are too many to mention.

The scene where they have to share a room and a bed and wake up cuddling each other. They both awake and realise they are holding hands. Neal then asks Del “where’s your other hand?” and Del says “Between two pillows.” Neal then shouts “Those aren’t pillows!” and they both dart out of the bed and try to act all manly by talking about the last football game they saw.

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

The scene where Del is riding up the wrong side of the freeway due to the fact he spun the car while trying to free his jacket sleeves off the seat adjustment knobs. Then he drives in between two oncoming trucks and Neal has visions of Del has the devil.

And the end. Oh, that ending, where Neal (Steve Martin) reminisces about the adventures he’s had with Del (John Candy), and then suddenly realises the reality of Del’s life and that he might not have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving.

He then goes back to the train station to find Del still sitting there. Del then goes on to explains that his wife had died from illness years before and his life is now pretty much spent on the road all the time, because he hasn’t really got a home any more. It just brings a lump to my throat all the time!

10 of the Best John Hughes Movies - Digital Art Mix

Other John Hughes films: National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Sixteen Candles, She’s Having a Baby, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Beethoven, Mr. Mom, Baby’s Day Out etc…

Mr. John Hughes, I salute you, and thanks for the memories!

Written by Jay

A caffeine based life form. Current Editor-in-Chief of Joyenergizer.

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