Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Remember this scene....?

Economics Teacher: Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
Simone: Um, he's sick. My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious.
Economics Teacher: Thank you, Simone.
Simone: No problem whatsoever.

It was a high school classroom.  The teacher was played by Ben Stein.  Simone was played by Kristy Swanson in what would be one of her first film appearances of a long and on-going career.  And Bueller?  Bueller?  Bueller?  Then 24 years of age, the lead character of Ferris Bueller was played by the extremely talented Matthew Broderick, a role that would earn him a Golden Globe nomination.

Making its premiere on June 11, 1986, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" gave us many memorable characters besides just Ferris Bueller.  There was his best friend, Cameron (played by Alan Ruck), his lovely girlfriend, Sloane (played by Mia Sara), and his vengeful sister, Jeanie (played by Jennifer Grey).  And then, of course, there was the principal Ed Rooney (played by Jeffrey Jones) who was convinced Ferris was skipping school, the comical secretary, Grace (played by Edie McClurg), and Ferris' parents, Katie and Tom (played by Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward who met during filming, clicked, and ended up getting married to each other).

Directed by John Hughes, the story of this film is basic, yet classic.  Ferris doesn't want to go to school, so he fakes being sick.  When that works, he calls up Cameron and Sloane and suggests they all take the day off from school and go out and have some fun.  And do they ever!  Driving off in Cameron's father's Ferrari, they head to the big city to take in the museum, some fine dining, a baseball game, and more.  But principal Rooney is convinced that they're all up to something and is determined to get to the bottom of it.

With a budget of $6 million, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" became a huge summer Box Office hit grossing over $70 million in just the U.S. alone.  Here are some other fun facts about this film...

1.  The movie was named after John Hughes' life long friend Bert Bueller.

2.  Rob Lowe, John Cusack, Jim Carrey, Johnny Depp, Eric Stoltz, Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr. and Michael J. Fox were all considered for the role of Ferris Bueller.

3.  Having already been directed by John Hughes in the film, "The Breakfast Club," Anthony Michael Hall turned down the role of Cameron to avoid being typecast.  Emilio Estevez also turned down the role of Cameron.  John Candy auditioned for the role of Cameron, but producers turned him down fearing he was too old for the part.

4.  Mia Sara beat Molly Ringwald to the role of Sloane Peterson, because according to Hughes she had elegance.  During filming, Mia was the only actual teenager.

5.  Linda Blair, Goldie Hawn, Ellen Barkin, Kim Basinger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Geena Davis, Robin Duke, Carrie Fisher, Melanie Griffith, Mary Gross, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Barbara Hershey, Holly Hunter, Anjelica Huston, Jessica Lange, Kelly LeBrock, Kay Lenz, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Catherine O'Hara, Madonna, Kelly McGillis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Cybill Shepherd, Meg Tilly, Sigourney Weaver, Jodie Foster, Sharon Stone and Debra Winger were all considered for the role of Jeanie Bueller.

6.  Alan Ruck was 29 years-old when he played the role of Cameron.  Matthew Broderick was 24 when he played Ferris, Mia Sara was 19 when she played Sloane, and Jennifer Grey was 26 when she played Jeanie, Ferris' sister.

7.  John Hughes wrote the script to this film in just six days.

8.  In an early draft of the script Ferris had two additional younger siblings and Jeanne was to be the middle child.

9.  Ben Stein, who plays the economics teacher in this movie, actually graduated from Columbia University in 1966 with honors in economics.  Nothing Ben Stein says (aside from the roll call) is scripted.

10.  Paul Gleason was considered for the role of Ed Rooney. Gleason had previously played the role of an assistant principal in "The Breakfast Club."

11.  John Hughes personally designed Ferris's bedroom, mirrored mostly on his own bedroom when he was in high school. Hughes said that the room was a disorganized series of pop references and other things because it would represent Ferris's mind.

12.  There is a poster for Simple Minds song "Don't You Forget About Me" on Ferris's wall. This song was featured prominently in "The Breakfast Club."

13.  It's interesting to note that though Ferris laments not having his own car, he does own a synthesizer which, in 1984, cost $8,000.  The short scene with the coughing keyboard was actually improvised by Matthew Broderick.  He also improvised the scene and the line with the clarinet: "Never had ONE lesson!"

14.  When Ferris hacks into the school's computer to change the number of absences he had, it is a subtle reference to a scene in "War Games" when Matthew Broderick hacks into the school's computer to change his grades.

15.  Cameron was based on someone that John Hughes knew in high school.

16.  The hand that presses the speaker button on Cameron's phone belongs to John Hughes. When the crew left, Hughes took the camera and shot it himself since no one else was getting it right.

17.  According to John Hughes in a DVD Commentary (original DVD release), the voice Cameron uses while talking to Rooney pretending to be Sloane's father was modeled after a stage director both Alan Ruck and Matthew Broderick had worked for.

18.  Cameron's father's Ferrari wasn't a real Ferrari. Because it was too expensive to rent one, they made three fake ones, each with a fiberglass body.  The 1961 Ferrari GT250 was a modified MG sports car. The producers received several angry letters from car enthusiasts who believed the car shown was a *real* Ferrari and that it was actually wrecked in the film.

19.  A number of key moments in the movie were created in the editing room: Jeannie kicking Roonie three times in the face (when there was in fact only one kick filmed); Ferris and Sloane's kiss in front of Roonie was originally just a brief kiss, but was later edited into the long kiss seen on film.

20.  When Ferris picks up Sloane from school, they are standing in front of the entrance to the theater of Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook IL, Hughes' Alma Matter.

21.  When Grace says "He's a righteous dude", it was not in the original script.  Edie McClurg ad-libbed it in her best Chicago accent.

22.  In 2010, Edie McClurg told Vanity Fair magazine that her character's hairdo should be from the 1960s, "because Grace felt she looked best in the 60s and kept her look from that era." But the women's hairdresser on the set had mainly been hired to blow out Mia Sara's long, straight hair and didn't know how to set the big, dated '60s hairstyles - so McClurg teased, set, and styled her own character's hair. Once McClurg arrived on the set, John Hughes looked at her hairstyle, and the first thing he said was, "How many pencils do you think you can fit in that hair?" They tested it with one pencil, then two and three, but the fourth one fell out--so that was the origin of Grace's first scene in the movie, in which she pulls several lost pencils out of her hair.

23.  Most of the license plates are all abbreviations for titles of films by John Hughes. Katie's = VCTN ("National Lampoon's Vacation"); Jeannie's = TBC ("The Breakfast Club"); Tom's = MMOM ("Mr. Mom"); Rooney's = 4FBDO ("Ferris Bueller's Day Off"). The exception is Cameron's Ferrari (seen when Ferris first pulls out of the garage), the license plate of which reads NRVOUS.

24.  The hall scenes in which you see Jeanie walking down the hall and kid collecting money to save Ferris are the same halls John Hughes filmed from in his earlier work, "The Breakfast Club."   

25.  The French restaurant Bueller crashes is "Chez Quis" which is a pun, as said aloud it would be "Shakeys", the pizza chain. "Chez Qui" means 'the house of whom' in French.

26.  The line Ferris says in the bathroom at the French restaurant about Cameron's house being very pretty and very cold was originally supposed to be said by Allison in "The Breakfast Club" regarding her home life.  John Hughes wrote the script for both "The Breakfast Club" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

27.  Mia Sara says that Matthew Broderick actually tickled her feet and knees to get her to laugh naturally in the taxicab scene.

28.  The painting that Cameron admires is called "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte", by Georges Seurat. It is still on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.

29.  The baseball game that was depicted in the film at Wrigley Field was filmed at an actual Cubs game and took place on June 5, 1985 between the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs ended up loosing the game 4-2 in 11 innings.

30.  After the girl in the arcade spits her soda on Ed Rooney, a video game sound effect is heard in the background. Appropriately enough, it's the sound effect that denotes when a player has lost a life in the game Pac-Man.   

31.  During the scene where Rooney fights with the intercom at Ferris' house, there is a shot of the kitchen. On the refrigerator in that shot is a drawing of John Hughes, done by his son who was six at the time.

32.  To produce the desired drugged-out effect for his role as the drug addict in the police station, Charlie Sheen stayed awake for more than 48 hours before the scene was shot.  Charlie Sheen's involvment in the film was Jennifer Grey's idea as they previously did "Red Dawn" together.

33.  The Parade sequence (Twist and Shout scene) was filmed during the Von Steuben Day Parade. An annual event in the Chicagoland area.  During the parade several of the people seen dancing (including the construction worker and the window washer) originally had nothing to do with the film. They were simply dancing to the music being played and John Hughes found it so humorous that he told the camera operators to record it.  The dance sequence by the group on the stairs during Ferris's lip-synch performance of Twist and Shout is taken directly out of Michael Jackson's Thriller video.

34.  The final scene in the garage was shot in early Fall, so each of the leaves on all the trees outside had to be hand-painted green every morning before shooting. In the shot looking up from the wreck at the three friends, the yellow tree with most of its upper leaves gone can be seen reflected in the window.

35.  When the Ferrari crashed, the fiberglass hood ripped. Therefore, branches were put over the rip to make sure the camera didn't record it.  On another note, the Ferrari was originally supposed to smash through the window of the garage and land in the backyard. It over-shot its mark, however, and hit a fence that was dividing the house from the yard next door.

36.  Polly Noonan who plays the girl that Rooney sits next to on the bus wore glasses that were specially made by the prop department. The lenses distorted her vision so much that they made her nauseous. Also, the glasses were so heavy that she had to hold her head in a certain position to keep them from falling down.

37.  Even though they played siblings, stars Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey would later become engaged after this movie.

38.  The idea of a sequel had gone around for years with Ferris in college or on the job somewhere, but the idea was dropped. Matthew Broderick felt that the film didn't need a sequel, that this film was about a specific time and place that we'd all like to revisit and didn't need updating.

39.  John Hughes personally selected the songs for the film. He wanted them to be somewhat obscure to the typical movie going audience, feeling that he wanted everything about the film to feel new.  So why he refused to release a soundtrack album is unclear.  He later felt the mix of songs was too uneven and didn't flow together, and wouldn't work well as an album.

And now you know.

For your amusement, here are some pictures from the film...


"You're still here? It's over. Go home."

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