Thursday, August 06, 2009

Director John Hughes Dies

Director John Hughes died of a heart attack today in New York City. He was 59.

You may not recognize the name. But you're bound to recognize the titles of many of the films he directed, wrote and/or produced — "National Lampoon's Vacation," "The Breakfast Club," "Pretty in Pink," "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," "Uncle Buck," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Home Alone" and "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York."

Hughes was known for stories about teen angst and coming of age. And he had a tendency to use the same actors in films frequently. Anthony Michael Hall, for example, appeared in four of Hughes' films in the early 1980s. One of Hughes' clear favorites was the late John Candy, who was featured in eight Hughes films.

Hughes was something of a recluse in the last 15 years of his life. And he was something of an enigma even before he disappeared from the movie scene. His own youth never really mirrored the lives of the young people in his movies. By his own admission, he lived a middle–class existence and never really felt inclined to rebel against his parents the way many of the characters in his movies did.

But he did use the town where he went to high school, Northbrook, Ill., as the setting, even if he didn't identify it by name. Often, the town went unidentified or was called "Shermer, Ill." It is my understanding that Shermerville was the original name that was given to Northbrook.