Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Breakfast Club (1985)

The year was 1985.  The date was February 7.  The city was Los Angeles.  The event was the premiere of what would become one of the most iconic 80s movies ever made: "The Breakfast Club" written and directed by none other than John Hughes himself.

This movie had it all: A talented cast, a fantastic soundtrack, a relatable storyline, and memorable performances that would last and be forever engraved in our brains.

Starring Emilio Estevez (played Andrew Clark), Anthony Michael Hall (played Brian Johnson), Judd Nelson (played John Bender), Molly Ringwald (played Claire Standish), Ally Sheedy (played Allison Reynolds), and Paul Gleason (played Richard Vernon), this is a story about five teenagers who attend the same high school and have absolutely nothing in common.  On a Saturday at 7am, they all have to do detention in the school's library.  They all know each other, but only because of what they see in the halls.  They're all clickish, and each one of them represents their own clicks: The criminal, the jock, the princess, the brain, and the basket case.  By 4pm, not only would they find that they're not all that different from each other and that each of them has their own story to tell, but that they would always be known as the Breakfast Club.

"The Breakfast Club" was only John Hughes' second film in which he directed, having already directed Molly Ringwald in another 80s hit, "Sixteen Candles" (1984).  He would turn around and direct Anthony Michael Hall once more in his third film, "Weird Science" (1985).  Hughes directed eight films altogether, each one significantly favorites among millions of 80s fans.  When it came to writing the scripts, Hughes would lay claim to 44 titles including "The Breakfast Club" which only took him two days to write: July 4th and 5th of 1982.   

Having grossed over $38 million within three months of its premiere, here are some other bits of trivia for your amusement...

1.  Other proposed titles were "The Lunch Bunch" and "Library Revolution."

2.  The film's title comes from the nickname invented by students and staff for detention at New Trier High School, the school attended by the son of one of John Hughes' friends. Thus, those who were sent to detention were designated members of "The Breakfast Club".

3.  Both John Hughes and Molly Ringwald shared the same birthday: February 18th.

4.  The ages of everyone in the principle cast at the time of filming are: Judd Nelson (26), Molly Ringwald (17), Emilio Estevez (23), Anthony Michael Hall (17) and Ally Sheedy (23).

5.  Emilio Estevez was originally going to play Bender, but John Hughes couldn't find someone to play Andrew Clark so Emilio agreed to play Clark.

6.  Molly Ringwald was originally asked to play Allison but wanted to play Claire, she eventually convinced John Hughes and the studio and was given the part.

7.  John Hughes almost fired Judd Nelson because of his negative attitude towards Molly Ringwald off camera. Paul Gleason convinced Hughes that Nelson was a great actor and was merely trying to stay in character.

8.  Nicolas Cage was originally considered for the role of John Bender but the production couldn't afford his salary at the time. John Cusack was originally cast as John Bender, but John Hughes decided to replace him with Judd Nelson before shooting began.

9.  Jodie Foster was considered to play Claire and Brooke Shields was considered to play Allison respectively.  Laura Dern actually auditioned for the role of Claire Standish.

10.  Rick Moranis was originally cast as the janitor; he left due to creative differences and was replaced by John Kapelos.

11.  Anthony Michael Hall's mother Mercedes Hall and younger sister Mary Christian play his character Brian's mother and sister in the movie.   

12.  The library in which this movie takes place was actually constructed in the gymnasium of Maine North High School specifically for the film. The school closed down in 1982, two years before filming began. The building had been used for park district purposes and the Chicago Blitz before the Illinois state police bought it, turning it into a police station, which it still is to this day.   

13.  While eating lunch, Andrew (Emilio Estevez) takes his lunch out of a "Happy Foods" paper grocery bag. Happy Foods is an actual grocery store in the north/northwest suburbs of Chicago.

14.  The dandruff that Allison shakes onto her penciled drawing for snow was achieved by sprinkling Parmesan cheese.   

15.  Director John Hughes insisted that the entire cast and crew eat their meals on location in the Maine North High School cafeteria.
16.  The joke that Bender tells but never finishes (while crawling through the ceiling) actually has no punchline. According to Judd Nelson, he ad-libbed the line. Originally, he was supposed to tell a joke that would end when he came back into the library and said, "Forgot my pencil", but no one could come up with a joke for that punchline.
17.  Judd Nelson made up many of the terms used in the movie, including 'Neo-Maxi Zoomdweebie'.   
18.  The switchblade used in the movie actually belonged to Judd Nelson. He explained that he had it for protection purposes.
19.  The guidance counselor's desk has a name plaque which says "R. Hashimoto". Richard Hashimoto was the production supervisor.
20.  A prom queen election poster contains the name of Michelle Manning, who co-produced the film.
21.  Director John Hughes actually attended Glenbrook North High School, one of the schools where the movie was filmed.
22.  Claire's entire ensemble was purchased specially for the character from a Ralph Lauren store, the only one in Chicago at the time. John Hughes had rejected the original costume on the grounds that it wasn't sophisticated enough.
23.  Director John Hughes said that the cast rehearsed the entire movie as if it was a play a few times before filming began. After the film was a hit, Hughes was asked to write the script as a play so high schoolers could perform it.

24.  One subplot that was filmed but deleted showed Principal Vernon watching some women faculty members using the school swimming pool.

25.  John Kapelos (who played the janitor) jokingly warned the young actors to not overdo their intensity, laughingly noting that Martin Sheen once suffered a serious heart attack while filming "Apocalypse Now." Emilio Estevez was enraged by the remark, and Kapelos was then stunned to learn that Martin Sheen was Estevez's father. While Estevez accepted Kapelos' apology and filming was unaffected, Kapelos said years later he still felt terrible about what he said, even though he hadn't had any idea about the connection between Sheen and Estevez and had offended Estevez completely inadvertently. When Kapelos guest-starred on The West Wing in 1999, he told Martin Sheen this story. Sheen thought it was very funny, which provided Kapelos a small amount of relief from the chagrin he had felt about the incident since it happened.

26.  The scene in which all characters sit in a circle on the floor in the library and tell stories about why they were in detention was not scripted. John Hughes told them all to ad-lib.  That scene would become one of the most memorable and most used scenes in youth groups as conversation starters; scenes to learn from.

27.  John Hughes made his cameo in this film as Brian's father who picks him up at the end of the film. 

28.  Although the majority of the film was shot at what was once Maine North High School, the final shot of Judd Nelson on the football field was actually shot at Maine South High School, also located in Park Ridge, IL.

29.  The theme song, "Don't You (Forget About Me)", was written for the film by Keith Forsey. It was a number one hit for Simple Minds, and both Billy Idol and Bryan Ferry turned down offers to record it first (although in 2001, Billy Idol recorded Don't You (Forget About Me) as a bonus track for his Greatest Hits album). The song was also turned down by Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders who then suggested they offer it to the band fronted by her husband at the time, Simple Minds.

30.  It was originally suggested that there would be several sequels to The Breakfast Club, occurring every ten years, in which "The Breakfast Club" would get back together. This did not come to pass due to the volatile relationship between John Hughes and Judd Nelson. John Hughes stated that he would never work with Nelson again. Also, it was unclear whether or not Hughes still held ill will against his oft-cast starlet, Molly Ringwald. They had a falling out in the late eighties after Ringwald decided to move on from the teen film genre to pursue more adult roles, thus severing her relationship with Hughes.

31.  John Hughes originally wanted "The Breakfast Club" to be a 2-1/2 hour movie. However, many of the scenes were cut out and the negatives destroyed. John Hughes said in Première that he had the only complete copy of The Breakfast Club on film. In one of the scenes, Carl predicts where the five kids will be in 30 years: Bender will have killed himself, Claire will have had "2 boob jobs and a face lift," Brian will have become very successful but die of a heart attack due to the stress of the high paying job. Allison will be a great poet but no one will care, and Andrew will marry a gorgeous airline stewardess who will become fat after having kids.

32.  Judd Nelson went undercover at a local high school outside Chicago near where the film was shooting and convinced the teenagers there that he was a legitimate student. After buying beer for them with his "fake ID" (he was 24 at the time), Nelson told them to drop him off at the hotel where the actors were staying. Years later, reflecting on his antics, Nelson said, "They would ask me why I was staying there, and I told them my dad was in jail. I'm staying at the Westin O'Hare while my dad's incarcerated."

33.  After John Hughes died in 2009, four of the cast members from "The Breakfast Club" paid tribute to him at the Academy Awards ceremony.  They were Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, and Ally Sheedy.

And now you know.

I'll end this blog by telling you that if you haven't seen "The Breakfast Club," you must, my friend.  You must!  Don't pull a Claire Standish, saying, "I hate it. I hate having to go along with everything my friends say."  Just do it.  You'll be glad you did.  Think you'll be bad if you do?  Hey... like John Bender said, "Being bad feels pretty good, huh?"

Here are some picture stills from the film...

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