I was in 7th grade when "The Breakfast Club" opened in theaters, and I distinctly remember thinking the movie was totally right about everything. I wasn't in high school yet (and that was surely one of movie's allures; a peek in a world I would soon enter), but at 13, I had suddenly become aware of all those weird anxieties, indignities and nuances that define the lives of adolescents, and they were all right there on the screen. Perceived slights as far as the eye can see. Rigid-seeming social circles. Parents who just don't understand. If only people knew the real me.
Shot at Maine North High School in
This is an atypical lineup for the Siskel, which tends to stick with non-commercial indies. I asked Martin Rubin, the cinema's associate director of programming, what sparked the '80s focus. "We had previously thought these films weren't quite old enough to be classics," he told me, "but they're recent enough that people have seen them on video or TV countless times." At the urging of staff members, however, "we thought maybe the timeline had moved to the point where these films were now being seen as treasured classics that people might want to see on a big screen."
Upcoming titles on the schedule (through July 4) include two starring
The Hughes films, though, hold a particular pride of place in the Chicago area. Hughes went to high school here. He filmed here. And except for a brief four-year period in LA as an adult, he lived here. No matter how many films he made, John Hughes never went Hollywood.
Looking back at "The Breakfast Club" (made for just $1 million), it is impossible not to see it as a prototype for trapped-in-a-box reality shows that would come decades later, from
Except Hughes, who died almost four years ago, was never a cynical filmmaker. In 1999, Premiere magazine ran an oral history of the movie that is engrossing and full of revealing details. Hughes and his wife married young and where closer in age to the teenagers in their suburban neighborhood than the adults, granting him an unique view on high school life in the 80s.
According to Molly Ringwald,
Before shooting began, Hughes sent the cast to gather intel at his alma mater, Glenbrook North, but as with all his other films, the setting was the fictional suburb of Shermer. "Hughes's Shermer was partly Northbrook and partly a composite of all the North Shore's towns and neighborhoods," wrote David Kamp in a 2010 appreciation of Hughes for Vanity Fair, "and, by extension, all the different milieus that existed in American suburbia."
Also in 2010, filmmaker
The wonderfully repellent
It is a film remembered for its quotable lines (a shooting draft of the script is posted online) — some clever, some slangy, some devastatingly true to teenage insecurities: "You don't even count. I mean, if you disappeared forever it wouldn't make any difference. You may as well not even exist at this school."
Hughes he took a pay cut in exchange for creative control, not that the studio was completely on board. There was no sex. No action. Just a bunch of kids sitting around, talking.
"This is not a movie that is going to go over great in the screening room with senior executives," producer Ned Tanen said in the Premiere interview, an ironic observation as Tanen himself was a studio exec. "All they're thinking is, Jesus Christ, these a--holes are probably my kids! They thought it was unreleasable." It ended up making nearly $46 million at the box office (close to $100 million in today's dollars)
"When that movie came to an end, I was heartbroken," Hughes told the magazine. "We did Judd walking off into the distance, and he just kept walking. I got into my car and drove away."
"The Breakfast Club" screens Saturday and Thursday as part of the Siskel's Date with the '80s film series. Go to siskelfilmcenter.org/80s.
Paul Sorvino (
"My house, my rules," a father (Minooka's
Last year the locally produced web series "Funemployed" had the distinction of being shot in the same city where
The documentary "Hava Nagila (The Movie)" traces the evolution of the traditional Jewish folk song into a cross-cultural wedding staple. The documentary screens Thursday at Spertus, with director Robert Grossman presnt for a post-show discussion. Go to spertus.edu.