We’re going back to the 80s this Autumn, as Liverpool’s FACT presents a season of films from iconic director John Hughes, the man credited with inventing the teen film as we know it. The Wood Street cinema will be screening six of his films – one every Sunday – through October and early November, starting with his High School powderkeg piece The Breakfast Club.
Set almost entirely in one location – a High School Library during weekend detention – 1985’s The Breakfast Club is probably Hughes’ most beloved work. It formalised many of the High School stereotypes, from jocks to nerds to lovable delinquents, that teen movies would play off for decades to come. It also – along with Joel Schumacher’s contemporaneous youth drama St. Elmo’s Fire – introduced the world to the Brat Pack, a group of hip young actors containing the burgeoning talents of Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe amongst others. You can catch The Breakfast Club on Sunday 1st October.
Another Brat Pack member and Breakfast Club alumnus gets two star features in the Hughes season: I’m of course talking about the quintessential teen queen Molly Ringwald. Over three years in the Eighties, Ringwald made three films with Hughes that cemented her reputation as the decade’s it girl. 1984’s coming-of-age drama Sixteen Candles – with its oft-parodied table-top birthday cake scene, and an early supporting role from a pre-fame John Cusack – was quickly followed up by the aforementioned Breakfast Club. In 1986, she took the starring role in Hughes’ next film Pretty In Pink, named after the Psychedelic Furs song, which itself was re-recorded for the film’s soundtrack. Pretty in Pink also features a great supporting turn from the recently-deceased Harry Dean Stanton as Molly’s father. You can catch Sixteen Candles on Sunday 8th October, and Pretty In Pink on Sunday 22nd October.
The season at FACT doesn’t just cover John Hughes’ teen outings, but also gives a peek into his other comedy work. On Sunday 15th October, they’ll be screening Planes, Trains and Automobiles, a 1987 odd couple road trip flick starring Steve Martin and John Candy, where a neurotic businessman (Martin) and a slobbish salesman (Candy) are forced to travel together to get home in time for Thanksgiving. One thing about this film, and all the films in this list, is that they all take place – in part, at least – in the fictional everytown of Shermer, Illinois. Shermer was used as setting in all of Hughes’ films – and a few non-Hughes films, such as National Lampoon’s Vacation – demonstrating that John Hughes was creating a shared cinematic universe long before Marvel Studios happened upon the idea.
Teens are the mainstay of the Hughes canon, though, which is why it’s apt the season at FACT is rounded off with two final wildly-different teen flicks. Sunday 22nd October sees a screening of Weird Science: A tale of two teenage boys using their lab skills to create the perfect woman – played by the future Mrs. Steven Seagal, Kelly LeBrock – which manages to land just on the right side of creepy. Last in the season is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the fourth-wall-breaking 1986 truancy comedy that turned a young Matthew Broderick into a superstar. It’s a charming, feelgood film and perhaps the only one in this list that can challenge The Breakfast Club’s claim to ‘best John Hughes film’, and you can catch it on Sunday 5th November.