“Shane” and “Sixteen Candles”

by John Holbo on September 5, 2012

I just watched “Shane” (1953) and “Sixteen Candles” (1984). Reason: I never watched the first one before. I haven’t seen all that many Westerns and I just thought I’d try it. Result: yep, all pre-Clint Eastwood, non-John Wayne Westerns feel vaguely like “Star Trek” episodes to me. It’s like I’m caught in a nostalgia wormhole for this later thing that hearkens back to this earlier thing. I experience time in reverse! The Old West was always already nostalgic for Spock to cock an eyebrow: ‘primitive technology, captain’. And Kirk gets that rakish gleam in his eye and we’re off! Trivia: how many times does that kid yell ‘Shane!’ A lot, that’s how many.

“Sixteen Candles”. This isn’t the sort of film I would normally pick to re-watch but, in this way, I was cunningly replaying an episode from my youth. My friend Scott and I went to the theater to see something else – which wasn’t showing. We had made a terrible mistake. There was nothing that looked good. We settled on “Sixteen” as the least unlikely, paid our money. We loved it. It made me a John Hughes fan, then I went to college in Chicago, which is sort of John Hughes land – well, the richy-rich suburbs, anyway. I wondered whether, by some miracle, it would hold up after all these years. It was, alas, pretty terrible. I knew the Long Duk Dong stuff was going to be cringe-worthy, although “Lake! Big lake!” is still funny. A lot of it is downright painful. What really struck me is what a cowardly, kind of date rapey-by-proxy douche the love interest, Jake, is. He knows Samantha likes him because she actually wrote a note saying she would have sex with him, and he found it, but he’s still afraid to ask her out, despite being this super-confidence senior jock-type. This is supposed to make him seem sensitive. He has a hot blonde girlfriend he could “violate ten different ways any time I want,” I believe were his words. But he’s bored and wants Sam instead. This, again, is supposed to make him seem sensitive. And that’s before he dumps his unconscious girlfriend in his dad’s Rolls, driven by his new best friend, the Geek. Well, whatever. This movie was supposed to be kind of sweet and tender, right?

Here’s the thing about teen romance: this sort of film is really about being young and just being intensely attracted to another young person, not really for a reason – duh, you’re young. That’s Molly Ringwald, just sort of glowing nicely throughout, as Sam. She’s sweet! She is! But you’re young so you have to tell a stupid story about your feelings that isn’t it at all. And this film is really that stupid story. I suppose one thing people like about John Hughes is that he feels there are a few things that are sacred in life. Like the experience of being a super-privileged, attractive white kid in the suburbs who thinks their little non-problem is the end of the world. You can’t mock a thing like that. You can mock anything else. But, in the end, not that. You must treat it tenderly. I should probably rewatch The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off again now. I think Ferris is going to hold up and redeem my youthful love of John Hughes. What do you think? Will I be disappointed?

In honor of John Hughes, Regina Spektor’s “Dance Anthem of the 80’s”. That’s the way I remember it feeling at the time, but now I’m old. Damn kids. Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about these sorts of problems in my life. My older daughter’s 11, not 16. (Whew, dodged that bullet.)

{ 112 comments }

1

AcademicLurker 09.05.12 at 3:42 pm

As I recall, even back in the day there was debate over whether Ferris Bueller was a legitimate hero or just a smarmy entitled jerk.

He was a polarizing figure, that Ferris…

2

John Holbo 09.05.12 at 3:51 pm

He’s a smarmy entitled jerk. I don’t mind that, so long as the film seems to know he’s a smarmy entitled jerk. The film has my permission to make us really love him, despite all that. But it annoys me that “Sixteen Candles” doesn’t seem to know that Jake is a jerk. It’s like Film 101: the handsome, entitled jocks are always jerks. How can you miss that when the guy is a handsome jock and also clearly a jerk. He has no redeeming qualities.

3

AcademicLurker 09.05.12 at 3:52 pm

What really struck me is what a cowardly, kind of date rapey-by-proxy douche the love interest, Jake, is. He knows Samantha likes him because she actually wrote a note saying she would have sex with him, and he found it, but he’s still afraid to ask her out, despite being this super-confidence senior jock-type. This is supposed to make him seem sensitive. He has a hot blonde girlfriend he could “violate ten different ways any time I want,” I believe were his words. But he’s bored and wants Sam instead. This, again, is supposed to make him seem sensitive. And that’s before he dumps his unconscious girlfriend in his dad’s Rolls, driven by his new best friend, the Geek. Well, whatever. This movie was supposed to be kind of sweet and tender, right?

A lot of the sexual politics/sexual humor from the 80s holds up surprisingly poorly considering that the 80s don’t seem like that long ago (at least not to me).

Revenge of the Nerds is best not spoken of.

More generally, movies still unironically featured “lovable rake” type characters that haven’t aged well. Today they tend to just come across as skeevy.

For me, at least, this sort of thing is more striking in 80s films than in films from earlier eras because I think of the 80s as “modern times”.

4

bianca steele 09.05.12 at 4:01 pm

Molly Ringwald’s character in 16 Candles is not supposed to be super-privileged or especially attractive IIRC. Her family is supposed to be an embarrassment. Her sister [cringe] is marrying down, one of those dimmed furriners. I remember the movie as being clearly about an ordinary girl being picked out by the BMOC.

5

John Holbo 09.05.12 at 4:07 pm

It’s true that Sam’s family is not super rich, although the sister is marrying ‘down’ somewhat. I guess I was just sort of overwhelmed by Jake trashing his dad’s Rolls Royce, while being petulant about how his girlfriend trashed his dad’s house.

6

bianca steele 09.05.12 at 4:07 pm

But he’s bored and wants Sam instead.

Because Sam isn’t boring, supposedly. I thought. But I was watching it through all those young-adult and kids’ novels about finding your true circle of friends. (It looks even worse through that lens, now that I put it that way, which is saying quite a big.)

7

Jacob T. Levy 09.05.12 at 4:07 pm

Ferris holds up– almost uniquely of the whole genre. I physically can’t watch Breakfast Club anymore. Better Off Dead is still pretty funny, and Pretty In Pink/ Some Kind of Wonderful (they’re the same movie) as well as Say Anything aged better than Sixteen Candles, but they’re all very much “But you’re young so you have to tell a stupid story about your feelings that isn’t it at all. And this film is really that stupid story. “ So they’re just not as entertaining to middle-aged people as they were to teenagers.

But I can still easily rewatch Ferris Bueller and be entertained, smarmy entitled jerk and all. I even find it more entertaining after “Election.” I imagine that Ferris at some level knows he’s going to turn into Ben Stein someday, and he’s just milking being an entitled teenager for everything it’s worth before that happens.

8

John Holbo 09.05.12 at 4:10 pm

“Better Of Dead” is great! And “Tapeheads”.

I’ll rewatch “Ferris”.

9

bianca steele 09.05.12 at 4:12 pm

Breakfast Club is harder on the geeky characters than we’re supposed to remember it being, and I don’t think Ringwald’s character is being ironic anymore when she says everybody else in the school looks up to her and her friends. That whatshisname turns out to be a writer really doesn’t make it better, just weird. And I don’t remember the stuff the adults say holding up well at all the last time I watched.

10

bianca steele 09.05.12 at 4:18 pm

@5 I honestly don’t remember anything at all about the good looking guy except that he left his girlfriend with the geek and was good looking.

11

Mao Cheng Ji 09.05.12 at 4:26 pm

Nothing good happened in the 80s.

12

Matt 09.05.12 at 4:29 pm

I’m glad that Jacob mentioned _Election_, as I’ve long liked to think of that as the sequel to _Ferris_. My wife isn’t from the US and had never seen any of these movies, so we watched Ferris and Breakfast Club a few years ago. She liked Ferris but could only sort of enjoy Breakfast Club, though it did help reenforce my growing view that the 80’s were a really awful period for the country, even worse than the 70’s, even.

13

xaaronx 09.05.12 at 4:31 pm

I never loved Breakfast Club as much as a lot of others, and indeed have mixed feelings about all the Hughes films quality-wise even though I enjoy watching them (and indeed, pretty much any 80’s teen movie; probably has to do with being just barely old enough to remember that decade and the way seeing so many of these informed what I though of as the real world).

Say Anything stands out from the pack more and more as time goes by.

And how can you mention Better Off Dead without talking about One Crazy Summer. I have a genuine love for that one. How can you not love Bobcat Goldthwait stumbling around in the Godzilla suit?
Also:
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
“Why? You know Karate?”
“No. I know Dow.”
“What is Dow?”
“Dow is the chemical company
that makes Mace.”

14

rburns9519 09.05.12 at 4:34 pm

James Stewert westerns were good; Winchester ’73, Broken Arrow, Gregory Pect; The Bravados, Henry Fonda Ox-Bow Incident. Lots of others. There are great westerns without the ideosyncratic machinations of John Wayne (that walk!, that voice!) or Sergio Leone (get closer in to the dirty sweaty face). Course you know this but its nice to recall some of those Saturday Night at the Movies fare I used to watch.

15

Mao Cheng Ji 09.05.12 at 4:46 pm

In the 70s, in this genre, you have American Graffiti and Grease. Pleasant music, at least. And good-looking cars.

16

J— 09.05.12 at 5:08 pm

“I heard about you, Jake.”

“What’ve you heard, Donger?”

“I heard you were a super-confident senior jock.”

“Prove it.”

17

L2P 09.05.12 at 5:29 pm

What’s the problem with Revenge of the Nerds? Most everybody I know likes it.

18

bigcitylib 09.05.12 at 5:35 pm

Frankly, I still think the line “We’re all upset your sister’s marrying a bohunk.” is the funniest line in the movie, maybe in all of Hughes movies. Beyond that nothing in the film impressed/impresses me.

19

Jacob T. Levy 09.05.12 at 5:43 pm

I figured I was the only one who remembered One Crazy Summer; it doesn’t seem to have entered the canon. I haven’t rewatched it… ever, IIRC. Dunno how it holds up. Hard to remember Demi Moore being that age.

20

P O'Neill 09.05.12 at 5:56 pm

Your point about Shane/Star Trek reminds me why I thought Cowboys and Aliens was both a terrible incoherent shambles and kinda sorta interesting.

21

dilbert dogbert 09.05.12 at 6:12 pm

Shane: Jack Palance!!!!!
The scene where Jack is standing beside his horse and in one motion is up in the saddle. It is not the usual mount with the left leg in the stirrup but just a leap up. Us horse people love that. The western what Jack did with Billy Crystal should be wiped from the face of the earth. All copies found and destroyed. God I wish I had never seen that show.

22

Substance McGravitas 09.05.12 at 6:14 pm

I’m going to have to see Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer. I really liked Eek the Cat.

23

LizardBreath 09.05.12 at 6:28 pm

I figured I was the only one who remembered One Crazy Summer

I loved it when I saw it, but I was fifteen. I’ve avoided seeing it again because I suspect it may actually be a terrible movie, and I’d find that depressing.

24

The Modesto Kid 09.05.12 at 6:28 pm

I just recently saw Lost in America for the first time, liked it a lot, and it occurs to me now that it seemed like a John Hughes movie about (nominal) adults.

25

Martin James 09.05.12 at 6:30 pm

Sixteen candles is pure ev psych. Male geek trades up to cute female genes by making skillful alliance with power. Rich guy is going for downmarket chick who will dutifully live the family life. The whole point is that, of course, its superficial but nature wants you to get in the gene pool even if its shallow.

Already in the early 90’s this was a bygone era. Cue Jack…
Holbo, you want the truth? You can’t handle truth! the fact is that deep down in the places you don’t talk about at parties you want Jake getting Samantha.

26

Ian 09.05.12 at 6:48 pm

Better Off Dead is still pretty funny, and Pretty In Pink/ Some Kind of Wonderful (they’re the same movie) as well as Say Anything aged better than Sixteen Candles, but they’re all very much “But you’re young so you have to tell a stupid story about your feelings that isn’t it at all. And this film is really that stupid story.”

I admit that I haven’t watched it in a long time, but I feel it’s fundamentally wrong to group “Say Anything” with the Hughes movies. In my memory, at least, it’s a far more convincing, far less stereotypical, and far more touching stupid story.

27

dazein 09.05.12 at 6:55 pm

This, again, is supposed to make him seem sensitive. And that’s before he dumps his unconscious girlfriend in his dad’s Rolls, driven by his new best friend, the Geek. Well, whatever. This movie was supposed to be kind of sweet and tender, right?

Where-upon they have sex, of which neither of them have a memory of, but she claims from a far-off memory that it may have been good, and grants post-hoc consent to. It was skeevy. Not in Revenge of the Nerds territory, but, yeah…

28

Brussel Sprout 09.05.12 at 7:03 pm

Election is a genius movie.

I was already at university for most of these 80s movies, wasting my time in the film club watching Ai No Corrida and the male component of the audience wince and cross their legs collectively.

Best teen movie ever: Diva (1981).

29

Keith Edwards 09.05.12 at 7:23 pm

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off holds up surprisingly well, given that, from an adult perspective, Bueller is kind of a smug dick who, if he were a grown up and acting like that, you’d want to punch in the face. Basically, he’s his own Manic Pixie Dream Girl. It shouldn’t work, but for some weird reason does, possibly having to do with Mathew Broderick. (imagine a remake with some current young male teen actor in the Ferris role. It’d turn into American Pie by the end of Act 1).

The Breakfast Club is a bit dated, in that that the punishment — Saturday detention — would be a laughable punishment for all of these characters’ trespasses, except Brian, who today would have been expelled forthwith. Having said that, the characters still click in a meaningful way. Which leaves us with a weird artifact of a movie, where the situation is an anachronism, but the characters and performances still shine.

30

AcademicLurker 09.05.12 at 7:36 pm

The real question is, who’s more annoying: Ferris Bueller or the kid in Shane?

31

Keith Edwards 09.05.12 at 7:39 pm

L2P @16:
What’s the problem with Revenge of the Nerds? Most everybody I know likes it.

The entire nerd frat house sets up electronic surveillance in the sorority shower room, which is a felony, not a prank. The head nerd later date rapes a cheerleader. There are racist and homophobic jokes that were cringe worthy even then.

32

Frank in midtown 09.05.12 at 7:43 pm

Oh, he’s very popular, Lurker. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads, they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.

33

bianca steele 09.05.12 at 7:59 pm

I was already at university for most of these 80s movies

It does seem to date people. Any teen movie that came out when I was in college, or later, I didn’t see unless it was a huge hit that I remembered later when I was looking for something to rent, or it was something (usually with John Cusack) that the people (mostly guys) I worked with liked. I’ve never even heard of One Crazy Summer. The Sure Thing, though–I’m sure he was supposed to be sensitive, too. (I saw Say Anything when it came out and again about fifteen years later, but unfortunately I was sick the second time, so I can’t say how it held up.)

Demi Moore: She was already playing a hardboiled Lois Lane type with IIRC a grown up younger sister in General Hospital in 1983 or so. I think it wasn’t until Ghost that I stopped thinking of her fake crazy Laura’s sensible sister.

34

nnyhav 09.05.12 at 8:34 pm

Shane: Van Heflin fun fact: take a five-dollar bill, 1995 Series or earlier (before the oval grew, or hatched); fold lengthwise, face up, then align its top with the top of a one-dollar bill. Voila! VH on our currency!

35

novakant 09.05.12 at 8:38 pm

I still like “Breakfast Club”, never liked “Ferris” (btw check out “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” – Hughes best movie as a director).

My favourite teen movie is “Risky Business”.

36

PJW 09.05.12 at 9:09 pm

>fake crazy laura<
Janine Turner, now doing occasional spots of political commentary for Fox News. I Googled her last week because she looked familiar. I remember that a fair number of students would plan their class schedules so as not to conflict with the 2 p.m. airing of General Hospital, this in the pre-DVR days of the early 1980s. The student union in Iowa City was always packed at this time Monday-Friday for communal viewing of that soap, and All My Children may have had a similar following. I have no idea if this sort of tribalistic, communal viewing takes place these days on college campuses for anything other than sports events.

37

Geoffrey 09.05.12 at 9:13 pm

We recently introduced our fifteen year old daughter to 16 Candles and The Breakfast Club. It had been maybe decades since I’d seen either film, and it was difficult to separate my reaction to them now from when I first saw them as a college student in the mid-80’s (actually saw Breakfast Club at a first-run theater a couple weeks after it was released; I was a sophomore in college, so a bit older than the characters although the feelings and reactions of the characters rang true in an archetypical kind of way).

Even though I grant the criticisms, in particular the murkier matter of class in 16, there is much in these films about life in high school that still resonates. My daughter loved both movies, even though she wondered about some of the things that original viewers might have taken for granted.

38

TheSophist 09.05.12 at 9:30 pm

Ladies, gentlemen,

The best teen movie ever is Heathers. (And I must admit to some bemusement as to why the thread got this far without it. Dq’ed for overt parodic content?)

“Dear diary, my teen angst has a body count.”

“Heather, why are you such a megabitch?” “Because I can be.”

39

Hidden Heart 09.05.12 at 10:59 pm

I found Heathers too dark to be really engagable-with early on. When I saw it again a few years ago, it worked as beautifully for me as it did for friends all along.

I re-watched Ferris Bueller last year and, rather to my surprise, hated it. In the years since I’d last seen it, I’ve come out of the closet and started gender reassignment transitioning, and Ferris was simply too damn redolent of the kind of guy blighting my world in big ways and small. The gap between his eternally self-confident bullying and the sort of shit we learned the young Romney was up to as pranking just isn’t big enough. Ferris is the internal life of a lot of Republican big-wigs, and it’s not a place I can pleasantly pass time anymore.

Tapeheads, now. There’s a glorious little movie. “Production values” and the scene in which that phrase is spoken is one of the truest things ever shot about the entertainment biz, apart from The Player (which also has Tim Robbins, interestingly enough). The movie’s funny, it’s got Devo providing the music for an A-Ha parody, it’s got Menudo getting their just desserts, and its sex-tape excuse for a plot could fit in with a great many real news stories about GOP bosses. I don’t know that I’d actually want to call it good, but it’s so much fun.

My personal favorite screwball romantic comedy of the ’80s is Restless Natives. The main characters are all out of high school and in that void of no-prospects which was already much more a part of a lot of people’s lives than right-wing-driven nostalgia would allow. Ned Beatty is a note-perfect asshole American on vacation, the music is by Stuart Adamson and sometimes the other guys of Big Country, the story is twisty and goofy and delightful. For those who haven’t seen it, the heroes are two guys with no prospects working in a novelties and gags shop who decide to try highway robbery, with masks from the shop. They become a hit. Tourists come hoping they’ll rob that bus, and offer them baked goodies. The local authorities are not amused. The visiting CIA officer whose bus is held up is even less amused. And one of the guys has developed a serious crush on the woman who’s a tour guide on one of the buses, but of course she only knows him as the one in the clown mask when it’s robbery time. Complications ensue.

40

Cahokia 09.05.12 at 11:37 pm

Yes, the perfect metaphor for the election choices. Romney as Shane and Obama as Jake. Romney/Shane is ready for any moral and righteous fight. He watched as his father’s fights to incorporate into the GOP the burgeoning civil rights and against the Vietnam war wound him ( http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/what-mitt-romney-learned-from-his-dad-20120117 ). He learned of the daily struggles, possibilities, and inconsistencies of families as bishop in Boston ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mitt-romney-as-a-leader-in-mormon-church-became-a-master-of-many-keys/2012/08/19/7c8fe1bc-cf89-11e1-8e56-dffbfbe1bd20_story.html ). A liberal gunslinger.
Obama/Jake as entitled jerk. Too young to be shoved by big business types into the role of caretaker ( http://jacobinmag.com/2012/08/obama-channels-reagan-on-welfare/ ). A conservative trophy collector.

p.s. I watched The Breakfast Club, in the mid-90’s, with a tax attorney for a top 3 defense contractor and his 17 year old son. Afterward he said, “So it’s all the parents’ fault?”.

41

Tom 09.05.12 at 11:38 pm

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is worth a rewatch. 80’s movies were the result of their time and Hollywood in those days – look who was in the WH. Plenty of good films, but you’re talking pop.

42

Barry 09.05.12 at 11:44 pm

Cahokia, I was going to reply in kind (it’s pretty mockable), but I decided to not derail the thread, and to not be the second d*ckhead.

43

Chrisb 09.05.12 at 11:53 pm

Let me put in a plug for Shane, the novel by Jack Schaefer. Read it ragged in my early sixties childhood, before I caught the movie and had it rather diminished for me by the underwhelming Alan Ladd. Do kids in your area play cowboys any more? Difficult here to tell from observation of the public streets, the density of matched kids in any given street having diminished so greatly since the baby boom. And the discouragement of gunplay. Not a cap to be heard on the average Saturday morning, though, which I suppose is some kind of indication. Ah, the acrid odour of caps on a summer morning….

44

Alan 09.06.12 at 12:05 am

Ok I have to stand up for Shane, if for nothing more than (as you might guess on the basis of my protest) when I was born and who I was named for. Yeah, it’s standard fare for the period, but at least it introduces interesting sexual tension between Ladd and Arthurs’ characters despite Heflin’s utter unbelievable cluelessness (well maybe not–they did fight for some kind of honor after all and Shane wins with a symbolic pistol-whip). And then Shane is off into the sunset but shot and in the last scene slumping–after riding past a cemetery. A heavy-handed pean to sacrifice and honor no doubt. But Palance is great, the cinematography won an Oscar, and it’s still watchable. (Sometimes I wish I’d been named “Jack” though; when you say that you think “whisky”–when you say “Alan” you think warm milk.)

And for comedies I have to stand up for “What’s Up Doc?” Better than just about any 80s fare. I’ve seen it about a dozen times including three times when it came out.

45

Russell Arben Fox 09.06.12 at 2:38 am

I’m too late for this, John, as Jacob and others have already weighed in, but let me add to the chorus: while not, I think, his most ambitious or admirable film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is clearly Hughes’s best, and it absolutely still holds up, 26 years on.

What also holds up? Say Anything, as others have also noted.

In truth, Shane isn’t a really one of the truly great Westerns, but it is a fascinating kind of communitarian film, and thus worth watching for that reason alone.

46

piglet 09.06.12 at 3:40 am

“all pre-Clint Eastwood, non-John Wayne Westerns feel vaguely like “Star Trek” episodes to me.”

By order of the Commissariat, no blog post without some ridiculously absurd generalization can ever be published.

47

weichi 09.06.12 at 3:43 am

Say Anything still worked for me that last time I watched it (maybe 5 years ago). I think it captures the teen experience of being in love – at least from a guy’s perspective – better than anything else in the genre.

I liked Shane, but I think that mainly because of Jack Palance. He’s awesome.

48

Ted Lemon 09.06.12 at 3:49 am

I’m shocked by all the love for Ferris. Of course, I thought it was a great movie when I was in my twenties, but I was an idiot then (one might argue that I still am, but let’s not go there). The whole movie is him lying his ass off, letting people down cruelly, and doing diving catches to try and save it. I started to re-watch it a couple of years ago, thinking I would have an enjoyable time, and found it so cringe-worthy that I had to stop.

But yeah, Heathers rocked. And is Real Genius still excellent, or would I be let down if I saw it again now?

49

Hidden Heart 09.06.12 at 4:54 am

Real Genius has aged quite well, I thought when I last saw it 4-5 years ago.

50

Phil 09.06.12 at 6:32 am

I was just too old for all this stuff at the time & caught up with both Ferris & the Breakfast Club relatively recently. Loved Ferris (film and character), as does my 17-year-old son. Criticising him for pulling stuff & getting away with it seems misplaced – the film’s all about getting away with it, and it’s shadowed by the knowledge that you can’t always get away with it (hence Cameron and his Dad’s car – although I can’t watch that scene without wishing they’d found a slightly less expensive way to make the point).

My (then) nearly-eleven-year-old son walked in when we were watching the Breakfast Club, then walked out again; I blogged about it here. We watched it again more recently & he got it, although with perhaps more identification with Bender than I’d have liked. That’s a weird film in the way it veers between styles and ideas – some great, some wincingly awful, none held for very long.

51

godoggo 09.06.12 at 8:29 am

Only movie mentioned here I’ve seen is the Breakfast Club, which I thought was pure evil. I will see Shane, eventually, though.

52

godoggo 09.06.12 at 8:41 am

And, as always, I’m being quite literal. Sigh.

53

ajay 09.06.12 at 8:45 am

My personal favorite screwball romantic comedy of the ‘80s is Restless Natives.

Ha! Yes indeed.

54

godoggo 09.06.12 at 9:39 am

Shakes head and rolls eyes.

55

Katherine 09.06.12 at 10:10 am

I’ve heard a rather fun theory that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off changes quite dramatically if you watch it from the perspective of Cameron, with Ferris Bueller as his projected alter ego, a la fight club.

See: http://www.slashfilm.com/the-ferris-bueller-fight-club-theory/

Someone’s even done a trailer: http://www.slashfilm.com/votd-the-ferris-bueller-fight-club-theory/

56

CP Norris 09.06.12 at 11:53 am

The funny parts of The Breakfast Club are still very, very funny. “Don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns.” But the serious stuff doesn’t really make any sense. Especially the near-random couplings at the end.

57

Jacob T. Levy 09.06.12 at 12:30 pm

Seconding or thirding the (very different) durability of both Heathers (which outshines Mean Girls like the sun) and Real Genius (which has none of the loathesomeness of Revenge of the Nerds).

58

Anderson 09.06.12 at 2:42 pm

Basically, he’s his own Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

That is awesome.

59

LFC 09.06.12 at 3:08 pm

J. Holbo @2
It’s like Film 101: the handsome, entitled jocks are always jerks.

But cf. Splendor in the Grass (1961; Elia Kazan dir.), where the real jerk/culprit is not so much Warren Beatty (though he’s hardly admirable) as it is the sexual mores and norms of the time in which the movie is set (the 1920s).

60

Mao Cheng Ji 09.06.12 at 3:30 pm

Well, in A Bout de Souffle, famously, the jerk is a tragical figure you sympathize with. But, hey, that’s art, and that the 60s…

61

bianca steele 09.06.12 at 3:55 pm

Footloose, which I only saw for the first time this year. More like Splendor in the Grass, I guess, except that it seemed like an excuse to get country music onscreen.

“Ferris is really in Cam’s imagination” is amusing, but why stop there? He could be Jeannie’s imagination: she pretends she’s so moral, but she’s really a skank, and she pretends Ferris is such a creep, but he’s really a sad guy like Cameron.

62

AcademicLurker 09.06.12 at 3:59 pm

“Ferris is really in Cam’s imagination” is amusing, but why stop there? He could be Jeannie’s imagination: she pretends she’s so moral, but she’s really a skank, and she pretends Ferris is such a creep, but he’s really a sad guy like Cameron.

Obviously they’re all figments of Tommy Westphal’s imagination.

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Jeff R. 09.06.12 at 4:33 pm

The “Ferris is in Cam’s imagination” theory falls apart during the scenes with Jeannie and Ferris’ mom. However, if you alter the theory to say that Ferris was a real kid, probably more like Cameron than Movie Ferris, who has been seriously ill and has very recently died, with only those three+the girlfriend knowing about it yet, Mom in deep, crazytown denial, and Jeannie having to go along what that in order to avoid a total screaming breakdown…

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Substance McGravitas 09.06.12 at 4:33 pm

I liked Hockey Night. And I don’t watch/play hockey.

65

bianca steele 09.06.12 at 4:39 pm

Also Keith Edwards has a point about the ambiguous dangerousness of some of the characters in Breakfast Club. The jock could have looked like a football player instead of like a gymnast. I’ve never been sure whether Bender was supposed to be from the wrong side of the tracks or not, a real criminal or a well-off rebel.

@Jeff R.
That’s a great album, which somehow I misread the reviews of really drastically.

66

mpowell 09.06.12 at 4:45 pm

I really don’t see why Ferris is such an unlikeable character. Yeah, he lies a lot. But he’s doing it for harmless reasons. The only person he really mistreats is Cameron. A hs kid taking a day off is really not a big deal and the principal only suffers so much because he makes such a big deal out of catching him. Ferris is a smug prick, but he’s also just having fun. He’s not creating abusive social hierarchies which the real life Ferris probably would be. And as far as I remember, there are no problems with the sexual politics of the film, which is why it holds up reasonably well.

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MPAVictoria 09.06.12 at 4:57 pm

“I really don’t see why Ferris is such an unlikeable character. Yeah, he lies a lot. But he’s doing it for harmless reasons. The only person he really mistreats is Cameron. A hs kid taking a day off is really not a big deal and the principal only suffers so much because he makes such a big deal out of catching him. Ferris is a smug prick, but he’s also just having fun. He’s not creating abusive social hierarchies which the real life Ferris probably would be. And as far as I remember, there are no problems with the sexual politics of the film, which is why it holds up reasonably well.”

Seconded!

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bianca steele 09.06.12 at 5:02 pm

As someone who’s discussed Ferris Bueller at length with a younger brother who’s convinced she’s Jeannie–the illogic of this, in the face of the fact that I left for school an hour before he did and wouldn’t know he was staying home unless I was also staying home, and facing the prospect of making his lunch and having my old movies replaced with Ninja Turtles (and really, what are the chances that 9 times out of 10 if I stayed home he’d suddenly discover he was truly sick?)–her fate looms larger in my memory of the film than is probably justified.

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Keith Edwards 09.06.12 at 5:59 pm

Ted Lemon @48:
Real Genius does still hold up pretty well (as long as we overlook the fact that our heroes technically commit an act of domestic terrorism). Especially noteworthy in that the lead is a no-name actor who has minor personal foibles he overcomes in order to grow up and be a reasonably decent person (this often gets overlooked, since Val Kilmer’s character steals every scene).

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engineer27 09.06.12 at 7:04 pm

“One Crazy Summer” — wasn’t that the one with the evil, sadistic, Cute and Fuzzy Bunnies? Hard to go wrong there.

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LFC 09.06.12 at 8:09 pm

B. Steele @61
Footloose, which I only saw for the first time this year. More like Splendor in the Grass, I guess

Probably not, but it’s my fault for being unclear. The problem in ‘Splendor in the Grass’ is that ‘good girls’ in that era (and probably several decades following) are expected to remain ‘pure’ and not have sex with their boyfriends even if they want to, which really messes up high-school sweethearts Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty, and the whole situation. (I saw the movie on a badly malfunctioning DVD, but I was able to get the gist.)

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LFC 09.06.12 at 8:12 pm

> DVD player, I mean

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Peter Hovde 09.06.12 at 8:44 pm

“It’s like I’m caught in a nostalgia wormhole for this later thing that hearkens back to this earlier thing. I experience time in reverse! The Old West was always already nostalgic for Spock to cock an eyebrow: ‘primitive technology, captain’. And Kirk gets that rakish gleam in his eye and we’re off!”

“About the future I can only reminisce
For what I had is what I’ll never get
And although this may sound strange
My future and my past are presently disarranged
And I’m surfing on wave of nostalgia for an age yet to come”

The Buzzcocks

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PJW 09.06.12 at 9:32 pm

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Donald Johnson 09.06.12 at 10:07 pm

I don’t think I’d like Ferris in real life very much–in real life all that lying and conniving, especially the way he cons his parents, wouldn’t seem so nice–but in a movie it’s funny. He wouldn’t be that terrible a person even if brought into real life as someone said upthread. Unless he continues to act like that when he’s 27 as opposed to 17. Which someone else said. I just don’t have anything original to say here.

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Number Three 09.06.12 at 10:25 pm

No love for “Porkies”, the most realistic teenager film of the 80s? /snark

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Brian Schmidt 09.06.12 at 11:32 pm

Shane – meh. The old days of bad child actors can stay there. At least they managed to avoid having John Wayne in the film though.

High Noon for a truly great old Western.

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CP Norris 09.06.12 at 11:33 pm

I don’t think I’d like Ferris in real life very much—in real life all that lying and conniving, especially the way he cons his parents, wouldn’t seem so nice—but in a movie it’s funny.

I first saw the movie when I was 10 or so, when every parent and teacher in the world was the enemy and deserved no quarter. So if he took advantage of his mom’s trust, well, we do things like that in war.

His exploitation of Cameron is less okay, but I view the whole movie as Cameron’s coming of age, in which Ferris is the catalyst.

79

bianca steele 09.07.12 at 12:09 am

LFC:
In retrospect, Splendor in the Grass (which I’ve seen several times, though not for a while) is “blame the parents.” Deenie’s mother says “nice girls don’t (like it, even after they’re married).” Bud’s father says, “you’re too young to settle down, don’t forget Yale, we have more money than her family these days, blow off some steam (with a flapper wannabe) and break up with her.” The beginning of Deenie’s breakdown (as Judy Blume will remind you) is her cutting her hair short, flapper-style.

In Footloose, Ariel is–similar to Deenie–losing her mind because her father and hometown are excessively strict, Kevin Bacon saves her by convincing the young people to stand up in town meeting and demand the right to have a party with music so they can dance.

80

BillCinSD 09.07.12 at 1:28 am

No love for “Porkies”, the most realistic teenager film of the 80s? /snark

You didn’t wear a condom on a first date, Number 3?

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Belle Waring 09.07.12 at 2:52 am

People should watch more super-old westerns with Gary Cooper, and old movies with Gary Cooper generally, because when he was young Gary Cooper was the hottesttest thing ever. The most salient feature of the Breakfast Club is that it features one of those tragic 80s makeunders where the person looks worse after the makeover than before.

82

SN 09.07.12 at 3:41 am

I hated Sixteen Candles so very, very much. It seemed to embody perfectly everything I hated about all my fellow teenagers. Also, I was punk and the sort of New Wavey/quirky people that Molly Ringwald and her closted gay friend were supposed to be were the people we despised most–sort of the way Marx hated Proudhon and possibly for very similar reasons.

I hated Jake. I had no exposure to feminism in those years but I knew he was a prick.

Then my sister, who was way younger than me somehow discovered the movie and utterly loved it. She dreamed of how wonderful high school would be and how she’d someday find her true love blabbity bla. I made it my MISSION in life to convince her that it was all a terrible, terrible lie about the teen years and she should enjoy her childhood and never yearn to become a teen.

Just recently she told me when she got to high school she realized one day I was right about Sixteen Candles and this gave me credibility about many other things for years afterward. Of course I cringed thinking about how I cynically tried to shatter her childhood illusions. I have to still fight that with my own daughter. Even at this ancient stage in my life I have to remember not to crush her 8 year old fantasy of what being a teenager’s going to be like.

I couldn’t stand Ferris either, of course. I was no fun at all, in other words.

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godoggo 09.07.12 at 3:46 am

This discussion makes me so very happy I managed to avoid almost all those movies.

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godoggo 09.07.12 at 3:49 am

“those tragic 80s makeunders where the person looks worse after the makeover than before.” YES! Whatsername with the black sweater, right? Pissed me off.

85

William Timberman 09.07.12 at 4:40 am

People who maintain that Sixteen Candles was a bad movie about teenagers should try to sit through Rebel Without a Cause. You have to squint a bit, I think for either to qualify as anything more than weird historical artifacts. Neither was any more accurate about teenagers, except in a very abstract sense, than Hair was about the Summer of Love, or Aleksandr Nevskii about medieval warfare.

86

godoggo 09.07.12 at 5:04 am

I was actually thinking about the deliberately awkward way that Dean delivered the line, “you read too many comic books” today for some reason. I think it’s generally, and rightly, considered a brilliant performance that transcends a mediocre script.

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godoggo 09.07.12 at 5:11 am

maybe “deliberately stilted” would be better

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LFC 09.07.12 at 5:24 am

b steele 79:
ok. I haven’t seen Footloose, so I was just guessing about it…

W. Timberman 85:
Really, this is too much. Sixteen Candles is quite forgettable, as evidenced by the fact that I had managed to forget it almost completely. Rebel Without a Cause, by contrast, is not at all forgettable. Also, what godoggo said at 86.

89

Torquil Macneil 09.07.12 at 8:45 am

“People should watch more super-old westerns with Gary Cooper, and old movies with Gary Cooper generally, because when he was young Gary Cooper was the hottesttest thing ever. “

Very handsome but sooo wet. Good in Judge Roy Bean though, although over shadowed by Walter Brennan.

90

William Timberman 09.07.12 at 12:27 pm

LFC @ 86

Never mind the angst. If you only had RWAC to go by, could you honestly believe that Sal Mineo was ever a teenager, that Jim Backus with an apron could have been anybody’s Dad, or, for that matter, that anyone at 17 could have looked like Natalie Wood and remained quite so clueless throughout? The concerns of the Fifties weren’t those of the Eighties, and perhaps they weren’t as heroic, or for lack of a better word, as existential, but apart from giving us a pretty good idea of what screenwriters at the time thought about the post-war consumer society we’ve all been more or less dragged headlong into, neither told teenagers much about being teenagers.
As my daughter then teenaged daughter once said about Some Kind of Wonderful, it’d be nice if we were that smart, but Dad, it’s really not like that. Having been a teenager when every young stud around me had to have a red windbreaker or die, I could see her point.

91

William Timberman 09.07.12 at 12:30 pm

That should have been “perhaps the Eighties weren’t as heroic….” Doesn’t make much sense the other way ’round, does it? Well, it’s early here….

92

William Timberman 09.07.12 at 1:20 pm

At the risk of making a total nuisance of myself, I should probably add that I’m very well aware that verisimilitude isn’t everything, and that it’s damned hard to manage in a movie anyway. And yes, James Dean’s performance was something to see — and was so precisely because it did reflect something of the true dislocations of the age, despite the mess that it was embedded in. I’d argue, though, that John Hughes movies did a very similar thing for the Eighties. If the Eighties were shallower than the Fifties, which I doubt, Hughes was pretty clear about why we might think so. Whether you think Hughes was that clever or not, I’d say that he made it pretty clear that the Fifties should have been a little more careful what they’d wished for.

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krippendorf 09.07.12 at 1:49 pm

When I watched 16 candles again, I wasn’t especially struck by the creepy sexual interactions and sexual politics. After all, I remember thinking they were creepy in the 1980s, thanks to an early introduction to feminism at home.

I was struck, though, by the racism, not just in the infamous Long Duk Dong character but, for example, in the dialogue between Sam and her friend about her dreams for her 16th birthday:

Sam: All you need to make a great birthday is a pink car and a great guy. Black.
Friend: A black guy?!?!
Sam: No!! [she might as well have said "ewww!" here, given the tone of voice] A black Trans-Am and a pink guy!

RE “Ferris,” I can still get a classroom of freshmen to laugh and loosen up by saying, “Bueller, Bueller” at the right moment. There aren’t too many movie lines, let alone ones from 30-year old movies, that have had such staying power. (I know, I know: a line does not a movie make.)

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Jonathan 09.07.12 at 2:55 pm

Were all future academics in the physics club with Anthony Michael Hall in high school? I think people assume this a lot.

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Marc 09.07.12 at 3:05 pm

Fast Times at Ridgemont High was a surprisingly accurate take on late 70s high school. I swear that I attended the pep rally in that movie (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLTTugZ4BIw).

And Revenge of the Nerds is a revenge fantasy for jock-abuse-of-oddballs that I actually liked as well, and that I imagine would still hold up well. Ferris never rubbed me the right way, as he always gave me that Reagan youth vibe.

96

Tild Dallelie 09.07.12 at 5:45 pm

Shout out to Torquil Macneil @ 89. How are things on Kiloran? How is Joan? (I assume she still knows where she’s going , am I right?) Love to all of you there in the Western Isles. :)

97

Keith Edwards 09.07.12 at 5:53 pm

I’ll defend Rebel Without a Cause til my dying breathe. A weird artifact it may be, but it is an amazing movie, especially when you consider that Jim was struggling with his sexuality, and that Plato was flat-out gay, which is why he was being bullied and why his parents abandoned him to be raised by the maid. Daring stuff for 1955, and still relevant today, alas.

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partisan 09.07.12 at 8:52 pm

I’ve never “16 Candles,” even though I was a teenager when the movie came out. My slightly younger brother was a classic science fiction fan and “Star Wars” and “Ghostbusters” are still two of his favorite movies. There was a science fiction movie club at my high school and we got to watch movies such as “Enemy Mine,” “D.A.R.Y.L” “Soylent Green” and other not particularly memorable science fiction movies. (What I most remember is seeing “This Island Earth” and the female scientist say of the pet dog “We call him Neutron because he’s so positive.”) John Hughes movies were never my interest: I don’t think I saw any before 2006. “Clue,” “Young Sherlock Holmes” and “Inner Space” were my more memorable teenage cinematic experiences.

My own cinematic experiences are kind of unique. I’m the sort of child who watched “Gandhi” a few months after “E.T.” and never doubted the former was the better movie. (I haven’t seen “E.T.” since 1982.) I probably wouldn’t have cared too much about “Splash” had I agreed to see it with my mother when it originally came out. But seeing it a year later on cable after my father died and when I was continually miserable I found it, and I suppose I still find it, an enchanting experience.

I should also add that only did I live in a very small town whose movie theatre closed forever when I was 24, but until I graduated we never had cable. As such our tv only had two channels. It was on TV that I saw two of my favorite movies of all time, “The Confession” the Costa Gavras movie about the Slansky trials, and “The Red Tent” the movie about the miserable Italian Arctic expedition that Amundsen died trying to rescue.

99

joshua buhs 09.08.12 at 2:31 am

It’s likely too late, and this thread is done, but it still must be mentioned: any mention of John Hughes should link to this wonderful blog post: http://wellknowwhenwegetthere.blogspot.com/2009/08/sincerely-john-hughes.html

100

Nababov 09.08.12 at 7:21 am

Dazed And Confused.

“I’d like to quit thinking of the present, like right now, as some minor, insignificant preamble to somethin’ else.”

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garymar 09.08.12 at 7:30 am

When Ferris Bueller came out, conservative scold George Will gushed about it in a fanboy column review — I kid you not. Must have tickled his Inner Republican Trickster.

George Will on a rule-flouting spree? The mind boggles.

102

Phil 09.08.12 at 9:47 am

I haven’t seen Sixteen Candles, but (as of last night) I have seen Easy A, which is set in a world where John Hughes is Richard Attenborough, or David Lean at a pinch. Very odd. Quite an odd film, in fact, although you only really see that in retrospect – it floats by on waves of brilliantly mannered dialogue (is that a post-Juno thing or just post-Whedon?).

103

rf 09.08.12 at 10:48 am

“conservative scold George Will gushed about it in a fanboy column review —I kid you not. “

Yeah, I happened across that when I was wikiing Ferris Beuller the other day. (I can’t believe the hostility towards Frris here) ‘The greatest movie of all time’ apparently

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1964&dat=19860626&id=zEojAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Mc8FAAAAIBAJ&pg=2201,5327513

So there wasn’t a time when Will was more….coherent?

104

Hogan 09.08.12 at 8:26 pm

BW 81: Two words: Ball of Fire. I didn’t even know about that movie until my 30s, and that’s one more thing God will have to answer for.

Unfortunately Cooper got caught in the net when I was watching a bunch of Audrey Hepburn movies where she was romantically paired with actors who could have been her grandfather. Don’t ever watch Love in the Afternoon, Funny Face and Sabrina all in a row. There’s not enough pumice in the world to make you feel clean.

105

bryan 09.08.12 at 9:53 pm

‘The real question is, who’s more annoying: Ferris Bueller or the kid in Shane?’
actually the kid in shane grew up to be Ferris Bueller, which means that the kid in shane is also Jim McAllister.

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bryan 09.08.12 at 9:59 pm

‘Real Genius does still hold up pretty well (as long as we overlook the fact that our heroes technically commit an act of domestic terrorism).’

But that’s why they’re heroes!

107

Belle Waring 09.09.12 at 12:58 am

103: Holy Christ I know! I mean, it’s fun to watch her dance with Fred Astaire, but he’s approximately one trillion years old in that movie and she is like 20. Same with the others. I just mention that about Gary Cooper because I didn’t know what he looked like not-old for ages, and then I saw this photo of him at my grandma’s and I was like rowr who the hell? Oh, that’s why we’re all “trying hard to look like Gary Cooper!” He is in a movie with Marlene Dietrich where he’s in the French Foreign Legion and at the end she walks off shoeless into the desert sands to be a camp follower and be with him, abandoning her rich lover in Tangiers, and my vagina thought: that is a very plausible and rational thing to do.

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jim 09.09.12 at 1:38 am

I was in my twenties by the 80’s, and uninterested in teen flicks, but I did catch Ferris Bueller. My curiosity was piqued by its rapidly acquired iconic status, but the tipping point for me was an interview with George Harrison where he stated how much he liked it. I thought,”Well, if a Beatle can enjoy it, it can’t be a total disaster.” So I watched it and laughed. But I agree with one of the comments (very early in this thread) that suggested that the key was the fact that the film acknowledges right up front that Ferris is a smug bastard toward whom we are supposed to feel a great deal of ambivalence. That layered in with his bearding of authority is what makes the film work.

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lemmy caution 09.09.12 at 6:02 am

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LizardBreath 09.09.12 at 8:39 pm

106: Love in the Afternoon was really disturbing along those lines — the end, where they take her cello away and put her on a train with him? I was not happy watching that.

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joshua buhs 09.09.12 at 11:07 pm

It’s likely too late, and this thread is done, but it still must be mentioned: any mention of John Hughes should link to this wonderful blog post: http://wellknowwhenwegetthere.blogspot.com/2009/08/sincerely-john-hughes.html

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Tangurena 09.11.12 at 2:32 am

One other mentioned it, and I think it needs rementioning, The Ox-Bow Incident is a very good, intense, tight story. I don’t think anyone has remade that movie. High Noon is another great one, but it has been remade a few times: Outland if you need an SF remake.

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