John Hughes Is Dead

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08/06/2009 5:53 PM |

John Hughes

John Hughes, the filmmaker responsible for a number of the most rewatched movies of your childhood and adolescence, died of a heart attack in New York city this morning.

Hughes grew up in the midwest and got his start as writer for National Lampoon, which provided his entry into films; his own films, as writer-director, defined the American teenage experience as lived vicariously by several generations of sleepover attendees. The teens in Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (and in Pretty in Pink, which he wrote but didn’t direct, and the preteen in Home Alone) are a marvel of idealized adolescent speech patterns: so profane and cuturally savvy that their frequently sentimental declarations don’t seem corny or cliched.

He was notably prolific; comedies targeted to kids, teens and grown-ups are still made, at a not infrequent rate, from unproduced Hughes treatments (most recently, Drillbit Taylor) — although Hughes himself retired to a private life in the midwest in the early 1990s, frustrated with the Hollywood production apparatus (which was also increasingly frustrated with him). He hadn’t spoken to the press in years. He was 59 years old.

Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.