The Breakfast Club (1985)

R | 97 mins | Comedy-drama | 15 February 1985

Director:

John Hughes

Writer:

John Hughes

Producers:

Ned Tanen, John Hughes

Cinematographer:

Thomas Del Ruth

Editor:

Dede Allen

Production Designer:

John W. Corso

Production Company:

Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

The film begins with the following quotation from the 1971 David Bowie song, “Changes” : “…And these children, that you spit on, as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware what they’re going through…” As the title card shatters with the sound of breaking glass, the film depicts images of the fictional Shermer High School with voice-over narration by Anthony Michael Hall in the role of “Brian Johnson”: “Saturday, March 24th, 1984. Shermer High School. Shermer, Illinois. 60062. Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did was wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you what we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us. In the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions, you see us as a ‘Brain,’ an ‘Athlete,’ a ‘Basket Case,’ a ‘Princess,’ and a ‘Criminal.’ Correct? That’s the way we saw each other at seven o’clock this morning. We were brainwashed.” Anthony-Michael Hall’s voice-over repeats at the end of the film with a slight variation as follows: “Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us. In the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions. But what we found ... More Less

The film begins with the following quotation from the 1971 David Bowie song, “Changes” : “…And these children, that you spit on, as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware what they’re going through…” As the title card shatters with the sound of breaking glass, the film depicts images of the fictional Shermer High School with voice-over narration by Anthony Michael Hall in the role of “Brian Johnson”: “Saturday, March 24th, 1984. Shermer High School. Shermer, Illinois. 60062. Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did was wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you what we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us. In the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions, you see us as a ‘Brain,’ an ‘Athlete,’ a ‘Basket Case,’ a ‘Princess,’ and a ‘Criminal.’ Correct? That’s the way we saw each other at seven o’clock this morning. We were brainwashed.” Anthony-Michael Hall’s voice-over repeats at the end of the film with a slight variation as follows: “Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us. In the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a ‘Brain,’ and an ‘Athlete,’ and a ‘Basket Case,’ a ‘Princess,’ and a ‘Criminal.’ Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club.”
       The Breakfast Club was set to be filmmaker John Hughes’s directorial debut, as stated in a 28 Feb 2010 Vanity Fair article. The picture’s original title, Detention, was changed when he heard a friend’s teenage son refer to his school’s morning detention class as “the breakfast club.” Hughes optioned the script to A&M Films in 1982 and agreed to make the movie for $1 million. According to a 31 May 2013 Chicago Tribune article, Hughes wrote the film with a single location and an ensemble cast so that it could be completed for a minimal budget. However, production went into limbo. With The Breakfast Club on hold, Hughes wrote four feature film releases in 1982 and 1983 including the surprise success National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983, see entry). The picture was based on “Vacation ’58,” a short story that earned Hughes an appointment on the staff of National Lampoon magazine and spearheaded his career in comedic screenwriting.
       According to the Jan 1993 edition of Spy, Hughes’s unconventional personality caused him to be temporarily fired from another 1983 film, Mr. Mom (see entry). As Mr. Mom neared its 22 Jul 1983 release date, Hughes became concerned that his next project, The Breakfast Club, would not have commercial appeal for its target teen audience. Fearing the repercussions of starting his directorial career with an unmarketable, sparse chamber piece— The Breakfast Club —Hughes wrote an action-based script for Sixteen Candles over the 1983 Fourth of July weekend. As noted in various sources, including Vanity Fair, Hughes had recently come across a headshot of actress Molly Ringwald while casting The Breakfast Club, and wrote Sixteen Candles’ with the photograph of Ringwald pinned on the bulletin board above his desk.
       When Mr. Mom was released at the end of Jul 1983, it grossed over $40 million its first month, prompting Universal Pictures to offer Hughes a three-year, $30 million contract. Producer Ned Tanen, who had recently left his presidency at Universal, agreed to absorb The Breakfast Club on condition that Sixteen Candles be released first. At that time, much of The Breakfast Club was already cast, with John Cusak as “John Bender” and Molly Ringwald as “Allison Reynolds.” When production was delayed for Sixteen Candles, Cusak was replaced by Judd Nelson, and Ringwald insisted on taking on the role of “Claire Standish.”
       Principal photography for The Breakfast Club began on 28 Mar 1984 at the abandoned Maine North High School in Des Plaines, IL. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that the school’s gymnasium was used as a soundstage for construction of the film’s central location, a two-story library, as well as principal “Richard Vernon’s” office. The high school also housed editing facilities, screening room, and production offices. Despite the relatively quick thirty-two day shooting schedule, Hughes shot over 1 million feet of film, according to Vanity Fair.
       Reviews were mostly critical, but over the years, it became a cult classic to its teenage fans, and was subsequently rereleased on 26 Mar 2015 to commemorate its thirty-year anniversary. As stated in a 26 Mar 2015 Vogue news item, the picture was scheduled to open that night at over 430 theaters, followed up by a second opening on 31 Mar 2015.
       End credits include the following acknowledgements: “The producers wish to thank the following for their generous cooperation in the making of this motion picture: Main North High School; Illinois Film Commission; Glenbrook North High School; Marlene Alexander; Don Stillwell; Bobby Richter; David Bowie; Town of Des Plaines.” Maine North High School is incorrectly credited as “Main” North High School.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 1985
p. 3, 12.
Los Angeles Times
15 Feb 1985
Calendar, p. 1, 19.
New York Times
15 Feb 1985
p. 18.
Spy
Jan 1993
p. 77.
Vanity Fair
28 Feb 2010.
---
Variety
13 Feb 1985
p. 19.
Vogue
26 Mar 2015.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An A&M Films/Channel Production
A John Hughes film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam op
Gaffer
Key grip
Panaglide op
Dir of photog, Chicago crew
Asst cam op, Chicago crew
Gaffer, Chicago crew
Key grip, Chicago unit
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Assoc film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutter
Asst film ed, Chicago crew
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Costumer
Cost asst
MUSIC
Mus comp and supv by
Addl mus comp & performed by
Mus supv for A&M FIlms
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd mixer
Supv re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR ed
Foley by
Foley by
Boom man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Opt eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting asst
Casting coord
Scr supv
Transportation capt
Asst to Mr. Hughes
Asst to Michelle Manning
Prod coord
L.A. coord
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Auditor
Unit pub
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Don’t You,” Simple Minds, produced by Keith Forsey, words & music by Keith Forsey & Steve Schiff
“Waiting,” Elizabeth Daily, produced by Keith Forsey, words & music by Keith Forsey & Steve Schiff
“Fire In The Twilight,” Wang Chung, produced by Keith Forsey, words by Jack Hues, music by Keith Forsey & Steve Schiff
+
SONGS
“Don’t You,” Simple Minds, produced by Keith Forsey, words & music by Keith Forsey & Steve Schiff
“Waiting,” Elizabeth Daily, produced by Keith Forsey, words & music by Keith Forsey & Steve Schiff
“Fire In The Twilight,” Wang Chung, produced by Keith Forsey, words by Jack Hues, music by Keith Forsey & Steve Schiff
“We Are Not Alone,” Karla DeVito, produced by David Anderle & Steve Goldstein, words & music by Karla DeVito, Robby Benson & Steve Goldstein
“Heart Too Hot To Hold,” Jesse Johnson & Stephanie Spruill, produced by Keith Forsey, words by Keith Forsey, Laurie Forsey, Jesse Johnson & Michael Frondelli, music by Keith Forsey and Laurie Forsey
“Didn’t I Tell You,” Laurie Forsey, produced by Keith Forsey, words & music by Keith Forsey & Steve Schiff.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Detention
Release Date:
15 February 1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 15 Feb 1985; New York opening: week of 15 Feb 1985
Production Date:
28 Mar--late Apr 1984
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
27 March 1985
Copyright Number:
PA265464
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On Saturday, 24 March 1984, five Shermer High School students convene at the library to serve detention. The teenagers include: popular Claire Standish; book-smart Brian Johnson; athlete Andrew Clark; hoodlum John Bender; and misfit Allison Reynolds. When they arrive, Principal Richard Vernon orders the students to spend the day contemplating their misdeeds, and complete an essay that defines “who you think you are.” Although Principal Vernon warns the teens to stay still and keep quiet, John Bender bullies his classmates and pulls a screw from the library door, creating a boundary between the reading room and Vernon’s office. When Vernon is unable to keep the door propped open, he threatens to punish John Bender with a lifetime of weekend detentions, but the young man remains defiant. As the day passes, the teens discuss their struggles for autonomy in dysfunctional families. While Claire, Andrew, and Brian complain about their egotistical, overbearing parents, Allison admits she suffers from being ignored, and Bender reveals a cigar burn on his arm as evidence of domestic violence. Sometime later, Bender leads the others on a covert mission to his locker, where he retrieves a bag of marijuana. When the teens hear Principal Vernon in the distance, they race through the hallway to return to the library before getting caught. However, they find themselves at a dead end. Bender shouts Army chants to lure Vernon away to the gymnasium while his friends sneak back to detention. Vernon mistakenly believes he thwarted one of Bender’s pranks and is delighted by the opportunity to disparage Bender in front of his peers, but the boy is resolute and ... +


On Saturday, 24 March 1984, five Shermer High School students convene at the library to serve detention. The teenagers include: popular Claire Standish; book-smart Brian Johnson; athlete Andrew Clark; hoodlum John Bender; and misfit Allison Reynolds. When they arrive, Principal Richard Vernon orders the students to spend the day contemplating their misdeeds, and complete an essay that defines “who you think you are.” Although Principal Vernon warns the teens to stay still and keep quiet, John Bender bullies his classmates and pulls a screw from the library door, creating a boundary between the reading room and Vernon’s office. When Vernon is unable to keep the door propped open, he threatens to punish John Bender with a lifetime of weekend detentions, but the young man remains defiant. As the day passes, the teens discuss their struggles for autonomy in dysfunctional families. While Claire, Andrew, and Brian complain about their egotistical, overbearing parents, Allison admits she suffers from being ignored, and Bender reveals a cigar burn on his arm as evidence of domestic violence. Sometime later, Bender leads the others on a covert mission to his locker, where he retrieves a bag of marijuana. When the teens hear Principal Vernon in the distance, they race through the hallway to return to the library before getting caught. However, they find themselves at a dead end. Bender shouts Army chants to lure Vernon away to the gymnasium while his friends sneak back to detention. Vernon mistakenly believes he thwarted one of Bender’s pranks and is delighted by the opportunity to disparage Bender in front of his peers, but the boy is resolute and the teens chuckle at Vernon’s expense. Vernon is riled by the insult and locks Bender in a supplies closet, where he threatens violence against the young man after graduation. When Bender remains unmoved, Vernon tries a new tactic to rid himself of the delinquent. He challenges Bender to hit him, knowing the incident would justify immediate expulsion. However, Bender does not comply, and Vernon leaves, keeping the boy locked in the closet. Bender outsmarts the principal yet again by escaping through a cutout in the ceiling’s suspended acoustic tiles. He slides himself along the steel runners before crashing into the library, where he is reunited with his friends. Responding to the noise, Principal Vernon rushes to the reading room but the teens protect Bender and feign ignorance. Meanwhile, Bender hides beneath Claire’s desk and prompts her rage when he leverages his head between her thighs. Believing the young man is still detained in the supply closet, Principal Vernon leaves the teens and goes to a storage room to peruse confidential files. However, Vernon’s misconduct is discovered by Carl, the school janitor, and the principal is forced to pay $50 to keep the man quiet. Back in the library, John Bender restores harmony with his classmates by sharing his marijuana. As the students lose their inhibitions, they reveal secrets about sex and love, and confess the misdeeds that landed them in detention. Despite the teens’ new intimacy, Claire insists they can never be friends outside detention because they are beholden to the school’s exclusive social hierarchies. Offended by Claire’s elitism, Brian claims his problems are far more serious than maintaining friendships. His perfect grade point average was irrevocably tarnished by a failing grade in shop class, and he planned to commit suicide with a flare gun to assuage the shame of imperfection. When Brian reveals he is in weekend detention because the weapon exploded in his locker, the anti-social Allison pipes up that her detention was not a punishment. She announces that she came to the library voluntarily because she had no other plans, and the teens laugh. As Bender sneaks back to the supply closet, Claire convinces Brian to complete the detention class assignment on behalf everyone. He agrees to write a collective essay in response to Principal Vernon’s directive, illustrating the ways in which young people are pigeonholed by stereotypes. While Brian writes, Claire turns her attention to Allison and adorns the girl with make-up and a fashionable outfit. Allison’s new appearance attracts the attention of Andrew, and the two couple up as Claire steals away to pay Bender a surprise visit in the supply closet. There, she kisses his neck and they admit to mutual affection despite their difference in social class. The day ends, and Brian finishes the essay with renewed faith in his intellectual capacity. As Andrew and Allison part ways with a kiss, Claire gives Bender one of her diamond earrings as a keepsake of their transformative day in detention. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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