In 1984, Hughes directed his first film, Sixteen Candles, a film about a teenage girl named Samantha Baker, who’s family forgets her 16th birthday. In addition to her family’s forgetfulness, she suffers numerous embarrassments on her would-be special day. The film was highly praised by critics and audiences alike. Furthermore, since Hughes tended to cast “no-name” actors and actresses and his films became successful, he launched the careers of several actors we know today. In the case of Sixteen Candles, he launched the career of actress Molly Ringwald, along with actors John Cusack and Anthony Michael Hall.
After directing Uncle Buck, Hughes, who was impressed with the talent of a young, unknown Macaulay Culkin in the film, wrote a screenplay specifically for Culkin to star in---Home Alone. The film, which was released in 1990, became an instant Christmas classic, and spawned a sequel written by Hughes: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Home Alone also launched the career of Culkin, who went on to become the highest paid child actor of all time.
The last film Hughes directed was Curly Sue in 1991, which received generally negative critic and audience reviews. After the film, Hughes largely retreated from the film industry and from the public in general, even avoiding interviews or photographs He eventually moved to Wisconsin. Tragically, on August 6, 2009, while taking a walk in New York City, Hughes suffered a fatal heart attack, dying at age 59. He is survived by his wife, Nancy Ludwig, whom he married in 1970, and his two children (Biography Channel).
Hughes used several trademarks in his films. Perhaps most notably, he set almost all his films in Chicago, Illinois, the city he and his family moved to when he was 13. Hughes especially used Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to showcase the city. As previously mentioned, Hughes frequently cast the same actors or actresses, with examples being Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald, and John Candy. Another trademark of Hughes was to end his films in freeze frame, as is evidenced by Planes, Trains & Autombiles and Uncle Buck (both of which end in freeze frames of John Candy). Finally, an interesting trademark of Hughes was to film close ups of two characters “locking eyes” with each other. Examples of this include Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Planes, Trains & Autombiles.
BELOW are two examples of Hughes's trademark of shooting closeups of two characters "locking eyes" with each other.
Written by Anthony Watkins
“John Hughes.” The Biography Channel website. 2014. 27 Jan. 2014.