High Museum of Art: Films

Remembering John Hughes by Linda Dubler

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club

I am a child of the 1950s, so by the time I was reviewing films in the 1980s, I was too old for John Hughes’s tales of high-school humiliation, stronger-than-SuperGlue friendships, and first kisses to serve as my generational touchstones. But for millions of Gen Yers, the bright, funny, and appropriately tormented kids who populated his films were irreplaceable alter-egos, and were as much a fabric of their youth as mom’s cooking or Saturday morning cartoons. With the director’s untimely death on my mind, I invite readers to join High Museum of Art staff members in sharing their memories of John Hughes’s films.

Linda Dubler

Recent stories

A poignant personal remembrance.
From piece the New York Times Art Beat.
An appreciation from Paste Magazine.

Staff Memories

I was really little when Pretty in Pink came out, but it pretty much defined my childhood.  Andie & Iona’s  style & attitude taught me how to be comfortable “being myself,” and Duckie’s performance of “Try a Little Tenderness” was a classic that I still mimic when I listen to Otis Redding in the car!
-Mandy Barber, Assistant Manager of Individual Support


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has got to be every kid’s fantasy. Take off for the day. No responsibilities. Cool car. Fancy restaurants. Art museum (shameless plug). Actually, now that I’m no longer a student, I can see it as every adult’s fantasy, too…
– Jennifer Maley, Wine Auction Assistant Manager


John Hughes makes movies that stick in your memory. The words and pictures stick to a safe place in your mind, held captive there until a real life situation needs a good one-liner or some nugget of wisdom: “That’s why they call them crushes. If they were easy, they’d call them something else.”

Even though the movies took place in that distant Shermer, Illinois, the family units, friend groups, conversations and consequences were both painfully and joyfully familiar to each viewer. Every teenager wants to wallow in her feelings, convinced that no one can understand what she’s going through. Through the truth of humor, John Hughes made millions of teenagers  realize that someone did understand, that it happened all the time, and that one day things would get better. Somehow, those movies had the power that our parents, teachers and friends lacked. It’s really all we wanted to know.
– Emily Beard, Web Content Coordinator


I both lived and suffered a vicarious day off through Ferris at 14. I mean who would want to go to school when dreams of driving around downtown Chicago in a Ferrari GT and having a parade and fun and food and not have to worry about anything were almost never within reach?
– Tannasha Lindsay, Visitor Services, On-Site Supervisor


Was it seeing Jake Ryan kiss Samantha Walsh that perpetuated my excitement to turn sixteen?  Perhaps it was when I spoke up in my 9th grade class and was sent to detention that made me secretly feel rebellious?  Maybe it was the time I ditched class and went to Six Flags instead that made me an accomplished senior.  No, I actually think it was the day I realized that being a nerd was cool, being a tomboy could still get me a date, and wearing pink didn’t make me any less of a tomboy.

To hope my life has somehow mimicked the pop culture carousel that is John Hughes is to declare to the world that I have grown up, gone through, and now gratefully made it though my teen years.

He was the master of creating adolescent images in film that stay with you long after your first kiss, your first car, and your first slow dance.  As my 10-year high school reunion approaches this October, I tip my hat to John  Hughes, the father figure of making it more than okay to grow up.  And to laugh.
– Julie Marateck, Speakers Bureau Coordinator