***/**** Image A+ Sound A Extras A
starring Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, John Kapelos
written and directed by John Hughes
by Bill Chambers Necessity is the mother of invention, and The Breakfast Club's iconic plot--aped so often it's become a modern myth, like Rashomon--was designed to ease John Hughes into directing and keep the budget low. The script wasn't just a formality, though, proof of that being his refusal to cast Jimmie "J.J." Walker (then in his mid-30s and a frequent passenger on "The Love Boat") as Bender in exchange for financing from Canadian dentists; he was still able to draw a line between artistic compromise--which had given shape to the material--and selling out. Nor was it some cynical "calling-card," unlike those one-and-done horror movies career-minded filmmakers like making to get their foot in the door. Yes, The Breakfast Club wound up capitalizing on a bull market for teen fare, but Hughes had an honest interest in telling stories about youth. Proof of that being his screenplay for National Lampoon's Vacation, doctored by director Harold Ramis to shift the dominant P.O.V. from the kids in the backseat (as in the LAMPOON piece that inspired it, Hughes's "Vacation '58") to the paterfamilias. Through a mixture of savvy and kismet, Hughes had crafted the platonic ideal of a directorial debut for himself, and then something funny happened: the comparatively epic Sixteen Candles became his first feature instead.