The Breakfast Club (1985)

 

Highlights

  • Starring -Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson & Ally Sheedy
  • Blockbuster ‘Brat Pack’ Movie Written, Produced & Directed by John Hughes
  • Considered one of the best Movies of the 1980’s
  • Worldwide Box Office Gross of $51,525,171
  • Soundtrack featured Simple Minds- Don’t You (Forget About Me) a US Billboard #1 Hit

 

The finest hour of the so called Hollywood ‘Brat Pack’.

Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy and Anthony Michael Hall starred as dysfunctional dropouts sharing their secrets during Saturday morning detention.

Across the world, god-fearing kids who’d never even thrown a paper plane embarked on a high-visibility campaign of serial bullying – just so they could get free therapy in School ‘DT’.

The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes. It stars Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy as teenagers from different high school cliques who spend a Saturday in detention with their authoritarian assistant principal (Paul Gleason).

The film premiered in Los Angeles on February 7, 1985. Universal Pictures released it in cinemas in the United States on February 15, 1985. It received critical acclaim and earned $51.5 million on a $1 million budget. Critics consider it to be one of Hughes’s most memorable and recognizable works. The media referred to the film’s five main actors as members of a group called the “Brat Pack”.

In 2016, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The film was digitally remastered and was re-screened throughout 430 theaters in celebration of its 30th anniversary in 2015.

Plot

On a Saturday, March 24, 1984, five high school students report at 7:00 am for all-day detention. Each comes from a different clique: stuck-up Claire Standish, geek Brian Johnson, wrestler Andrew Clark, rebellious John Bender, and outcast Allison Reynolds. They gather in the school library, where assistant principal Richard Vernon instructs them not to talk, move from the seats, or sleep until they are released at 4:00 p.m. He assigns them a thousand-word essay, in which each must describe “who you think you are”. He leaves, returning only occasionally to check on them.

John, who has an antagonistic relationship with Vernon, ignores the rules and riles up the other students, teasing and harassing Brian, Andrew, and Claire. Vernon gives John eight weekends’ worth of additional detention and eventually locks him in a storage closet, but he escapes and returns to the library.

The students pass the hours by talking, arguing, and, at one point, smoking marijuana. Gradually, they open up and reveal their secrets: Claire has experiences of peer pressure, John comes from an abusive household, Allison is a compulsive liar, Andrew can’t think for himself, and Brian contemplated suicide over a bad grade. They discover they all have poor relationships with their parents: Claire’s parents use her to get back at each other during arguments, John’s parents physically and verbally abuse him, Allison’s parents ignore her, Andrew’s father pushes him to the limit, especially in wrestling, and Brian’s parents pressure him to earn high grades. The students realize that, despite their differences, they face similar problems.

Claire gives Allison a makeover, which sparks romantic interest from Andrew. Claire decides to break her “pristine” virginal appearance by kissing John and giving him a hickey. Although they suspect their new relationships will end along with their detention, they believe their mutual experiences will change the way they look at their peers.

As the detention nears its end, the group requests that Brian complete the essay for everyone, and John returns to the storage closet to fool Vernon into thinking he has not left. Brian leaves the essay in the library for Vernon to read after they leave. As the students part ways, Allison and Andrew kiss, as do Claire and John. Allison rips Andrew’s state champion patch from his jacket to keep, and Claire gives John one of her diamond earrings, which he puts on. Vernon reads the essay, in which Brian states that Vernon has already judged who they are using stereotypes; in fact, the students found that “each one of us is a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.” He signs off the letter with “Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.”

Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall both starred in Hughes’s 1984 film Sixteen Candles. Towards the end of filming, Hughes asked them both to be in The Breakfast Club. Hall became the first to be cast, agreeing to the role of Brian Johnson; his real life mother and sister playing the same roles in the film. Ringwald was originally approached to play the character of Allison Reynolds, but she was “really upset” because she wanted to play Claire Standish (then named “Cathy” in the first draft of the script), which saw the auditions of Robin Wright, Jodie Foster, and Laura Dern. She eventually convinced Hughes and the studio to give her the part. The role of Allison ultimately went to Ally Sheedy.

Emilio Estevez originally auditioned for the role of John Bender. However, when Hughes was unable to find someone to play Andrew Clark, Estevez was recast. Nicolas Cage was considered for the role of John Bender, which was the last role to be cast, though the role was narrowed down to John Cusack and Judd Nelson. Hughes originally cast Cusack, but decided to replace him with Nelson before shooting began, because Cusack did not look threatening enough for the role. At one point, Hughes was disappointed in Nelson because he stayed in character and harassed Ringwald off-camera, with the other actors having to convince Hughes not to fire him.

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

In 1999, Hughes said that his request to direct the film met with resistance and skepticism because he lacked film making experience. Hughes ultimately convinced the film’s investors that due to the modest $1 million budget and its single location shoot, he could greatly minimize their risk. Hughes originally thought that The Breakfast Club would be his directorial debut. Hughes opted for an insular, largely one-room set and wrote about high school students, who would be played by younger actors.

Principal photography began on March 28, 1984, and ended in May. Filming took place at Maine North High School in Des Plaines, Illinois, which had closed in 1981. The same setting was used for interior scenes of Hughes’s 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which featured exterior shots from nearby Glenbrook North High School. The library at Maine North High School, considered too small for the film, prompted the crew to build the set in the school’s gymnasium. The actors rehearsed for three weeks and then shot the film in sequence. On the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off DVD commentary (featured on the 2004 DVD version), Hughes revealed that he shot the two films concurrently to save time and money, and some outtakes of both films feature elements of the film crews working on the other film. The first print was 150 minutes in length.

During a cast reunion in honor of the film’s 25th anniversary, Ally Sheedy revealed that a Director’s Cut existed but Hughes’s widow did not disclose any details concerning its whereabouts.

In 2015 the first draft of the film’s script was discovered in a Maine South High School cabinet as district employees were moving offices to a new building.

The film’s poster, featuring the five characters huddled together, was photographed by Annie Leibovitz toward the end of shooting. The shot of five actors gazing at the camera influenced the way teen films were marketed from that point on. The poster refers to the five “types” of the story using slightly different terms than those used in the film, and in a different sequence, stating “They were five total strangers with nothing in common, meeting for the first time. A brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse”.

In February 1985, the film debuted at #3 at the box office (behind blockbuster film Beverly Hills Cop and Witness starring Harrison Ford). Grossing $45,875,171 domestically and $51,525,171 worldwide, the film is a box office success, given its $1 million budget.

The Breakfast Club is known as the “quintessential 1980s film” and is considered as one of the best films of the decade. In 2008, Empire magazine ranked it #369 on their The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time list. It then rose 331 places to rank at #38 on their 2014 list. Similarly, The New York Times placed the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list and Entertainment Weekly ranked the film number 1 on its list of the 50 Best High School Movies. In the 2001 parody film Not Another Teen Movie, Gleason reprised his role as Assistant Principal Vernon in a short scene that parodies The Breakfast Club.

The Breakfast Club soundtrack album was released on February 19, 1985 by A&M Records. The album peaked at No. 17 on the US Billboard 200 album chart. The song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” performed by Scottish rock band Simple Minds was released as a single on February 20, 1985 in the United States and on April 8, 1985 in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at #3, it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.