Sixteen Candles (1984)

PG | 93 mins | Comedy-drama, Romantic comedy | 4 May 1984

Director:

John Hughes

Writer:

John Hughes

Producer:

Hilton A. Green

Cinematographer:

Robert Byrne

Production Designer:

John W. Corso

Production Company:

Channel Productions, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

Sixteen Candles marked filmmaker John Hughes’s directorial debut, even though he was planning to make The Breakfast Club (1985, see entry) first, as noted in various sources, including articles in the 8 May 1984 Philadelphia Inquirer and 28 Feb 2010 Vanity Fair. Hoping to break into filmmaking, Hughes wrote The Breakfast Club in 1982 as a low-budget production, with a single location and ensemble cast, and A&M Films optioned the script on condition that he finish the picture for $1 million, according to a 31 May 2013 Chicago Tribune article. When production went into limbo, Hughes wrote four feature films that were released 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. Hughes’s unconventional personality caused him to be temporarily fired from another 1983 film, Mr. Mom (see entry), as stated in the Jan 1993 edition of Spy, and when the picture 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. According to various sources, including Vanity Fair, Hughes had recently ... More Less

Sixteen Candles marked filmmaker John Hughes’s directorial debut, even though he was planning to make The Breakfast Club (1985, see entry) first, as noted in various sources, including articles in the 8 May 1984 Philadelphia Inquirer and 28 Feb 2010 Vanity Fair. Hoping to break into filmmaking, Hughes wrote The Breakfast Club in 1982 as a low-budget production, with a single location and ensemble cast, and A&M Films optioned the script on condition that he finish the picture for $1 million, according to a 31 May 2013 Chicago Tribune article. When production went into limbo, Hughes wrote four feature films that were released 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. Hughes’s unconventional personality caused him to be temporarily fired from another 1983 film, Mr. Mom (see entry), as stated in the Jan 1993 edition of Spy, and when the picture 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. According to 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 her photograph pinned to 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. Executive 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.
       Principal photography on Sixteen Candles began 11 Jul 1983 in Skokie, IL, as reported in a 15 Jul 1983 Var production chart. Locations in and around the Chicago area for the two-month shoot included the Niles Township East High School in Skokie, Union Church in Glencoe, and a private home in the North Shore community of Evanston, as well as the towns of Highland Park and Northbrook.
       On 16 Feb 1984, DV announced that Sixteen Candles won its appeal of the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) R-rating, and the film was set to be released as PG.
       Despite tepid reviews, the $6.5 million production performed well at the box-office, grossing over $25 million. However, the picture prompted protests from the Asian-American community for its depiction of Chinese exchange student “Long Duk Dong,” as stated in a 10 Jun 1984 LAT article published one month after the film’s release. Dissenters took issue with the use of the word “Chinaman,” and the scene in which Dong is kicked by an older, white gentleman, but Hughes argued that he was making fun of people who host exchange students, not foreigners, and claimed he did not intend to promote racial stereotypes. Japanese-American actor Gedde Watanabe defended the role, stating that Dong provided an alternative to the conventional “submissive, smart” Asian characters normally seen in movies at that time. He considered the film to be farce, and wanted to test the limits of what was deemed politically correct.
       Although the picture was also criticized for its representation of people with disabilities, its reference to date rape was not scrutinized by contemporary audiences. Years later, various modern sources, including an opinion column in the 24 Nov 2015 NYP, argued that Sixteen Candles sanctioned nonconsensual sex. Critics objected to the scene in which “Jake Ryan” reports he could “violate” his intoxicated, unconscious girl friend, Caroline, and the “Geek” responds: “What are you waiting for?” While Jake refrains from having sex with Caroline, he asks the Geek to take her home, telling him to “have fun,” and encouraging him to exploit her vulnerability.
       On 14 Oct 2003, DV reported that USA Network was developing a television sequel titled 32 Candles with producers Buffy Shutt and Kathy Jones. As of 7 Jun 2016, the project has not come to fruition.
       End credits include: “The producers wish to thank the following for their generous cooperation in the making of this motion picture: The Illinois State Film Office; Niles East High School; the Town of Evanston, the town of Glencoe; the town of Highland Park; the town of Northbrook; the town of Skokie; ‘Top Cast’ excerpt courtesy of World Vision Enterprises, Inc.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Chicago Tribune
31 May 2013.
---
Daily Variety
16 Feb 1984.
---
Daily Variety
30 Apr 1984.
---
Daily Variety
14 Oct 2003.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 May 1984
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
4 May 1984
p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
10 Jun 1984.
Calendar, p. 3.
New York Post
24 Nov 2015.
---
New York Times
4 May 1984
p. 14.
Philadelphia Inquirer
8 May 1984
Section C, p. 1.
Spy
Jan 1993.
---
Vanity Fair
28 Feb 2010.
---
Variety
15 Jul 1983.
---
Variety
2 May 1984
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A John Hughes film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam op
Key grip
Best boy
Best boy
Cam op, Chicago crew
Asst cam op, Chicago crew
Still photog, Chicago crew
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed, Chicago crew
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Men`s cost
Women`s cost
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Foley by
Foley by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles by
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup, Chicago crew
Hairstylist, Chicago crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Spec consultant
Loc mgr
Intern
Asst to Mr. Hughes
Auditor
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod secy
Casting asst
Casting asst
Transportation capt, Chicago crew
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Snowballed,” performed by AC/DC, courtesy of Leidseplein Presse B.V./J. Albert LTD., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Today I Met The Boy I’m Gonna Mary,” performed by Darlene Love, courtesy of Phil Spector International
“Love Of The Common People,” performed by Paul Young, courtesy of CBS Records
+
SONGS
“Snowballed,” performed by AC/DC, courtesy of Leidseplein Presse B.V./J. Albert LTD., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Today I Met The Boy I’m Gonna Mary,” performed by Darlene Love, courtesy of Phil Spector International
“Love Of The Common People,” performed by Paul Young, courtesy of CBS Records
“Kajagoogoo” (Main Title Song), performed by Kajagoogoo, courtesy of EMI Records LTD.
“Happy Birthday,” performed by Altered Images, courtesy of CBS Records
“Kazooed On Klassics,” performed by The Temple City Kazoo Orchestra, courtesy of Rhino Records, Inc.
“Dragnet,” performed by Ray Anthony and His Orchestra, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
“Rumours In The Air,” performed by Night Ranger, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
“Petter Gunn,” performed by Ray Anthony and His Orchestra, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
“True,” performed by Spandau Ballet, courtesy of Chrysalis Records, Inc.
“Wild Sex In The Working Class,” performed by Oingo Boingo, courtesy of A&M Records
“Little Bitch,” performed by The Specials, courtesy of Chrysalis Records, Inc.
“Growing Pains,” performed by Tim Finn, courtesy of A&M Records and Mushroom Records
“When It Started To Begin,” performed by Nick Heyward, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
“Lenny,” performed by Stevie Ray Vaughan, courtesy of Chrysalis Records, Inc.
“Love Theme From The Godfather,” composed by Nino Rota, conducted by Carlo Savina, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
“Turning Japanese,” performed by The Vapors, courtesy of Liberty Records, a division of Capital Records, Inc.
“Rev-Up,” performed by The Revillos, courtesy of Virgin Records, Ltd.
“Farmer John,” performed by The Premiers, courtesy of Rampart Records/Rhino Records, Ltd.
“Hang Up The Phone,” performed by Annie Golden, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
“Gloria,” performed by Patti Smith, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
“New York, New York,” performed by Frank Sinatra, courtesy of Reprise Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Young Guns,” performed by Wham, courtesy of CBS Records
“Rebel Yell,” performed by Billy Idol, courtesy of Chrysalis Records Inc.
“Lohengrin Wedding March,” performed by The Bavarian Staatsoper Munich Chorus and Orchestra, conducted by Robert Heger, courtesy of EMI Electrola GMBH
“Young Americans,” performed by David Bowie, courtesy of RCA Records
“If You Were Here,” performed by The Thompson Twins, courtesy of Arista Records Inc.
“Sixteen Candles,” performed by The Stray Cats, courtesy of EMI America and Arista Records, LTD.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
16 Candles
Release Date:
4 May 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York opening: 4 May 1984
Production Date:
began 11 July 1983
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
27 July 1984
Copyright Number:
PA232417
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® camera and lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
93
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27313
SYNOPSIS

On the morning of Samantha Baker’s sixteenth birthday, her family is preoccupied with the ill-fated wedding of her vapid older sister, Ginny, and forgets it is her special day. At school, Samantha complains about her family’s negligence and fills out a friend’s confidential questionnaire about sex, admitting her infatuation with a senior named Jake Ryan. The young man is dating Caroline, the school’s revered prom queen, and Samantha, an awkward sophomore, believes herself too plain to capture his attention. However, Jake has noticed Samantha, and when she drops the questionnaire on the floor, he secretly slides it under his foot, gaining access to her private thoughts. Samantha panics when the paper goes missing, but she remains unaware that Jake has taken it into his possession. Returning home on the bus, Samantha is propositioned by a relentlessly bothersome underclassman, who refers to himself as “Farmer Ted” and invites her to the school dance that evening. She turns him down and seeks respite in her bedroom, only to discover that her cantankerous, yet well-meaning grandparents have taken over the house for Ginny’s wedding. When the family elders fail to remember Samantha’s birthday, she concludes all hope is lost and pouts to her mother, who remains ignorant of her daughter’s woes and orders her to take over household chores that evening. At dinner, Samantha excuses herself for the dance and her grandparents insist that she bring along their socially maladroit Chinese exchange student, Long Duk Dong. Samantha arrives at the event cautiously optimistic about seeing Jake. She catches his eye at the sidelines of the dance floor, and he winces in the ... +


On the morning of Samantha Baker’s sixteenth birthday, her family is preoccupied with the ill-fated wedding of her vapid older sister, Ginny, and forgets it is her special day. At school, Samantha complains about her family’s negligence and fills out a friend’s confidential questionnaire about sex, admitting her infatuation with a senior named Jake Ryan. The young man is dating Caroline, the school’s revered prom queen, and Samantha, an awkward sophomore, believes herself too plain to capture his attention. However, Jake has noticed Samantha, and when she drops the questionnaire on the floor, he secretly slides it under his foot, gaining access to her private thoughts. Samantha panics when the paper goes missing, but she remains unaware that Jake has taken it into his possession. Returning home on the bus, Samantha is propositioned by a relentlessly bothersome underclassman, who refers to himself as “Farmer Ted” and invites her to the school dance that evening. She turns him down and seeks respite in her bedroom, only to discover that her cantankerous, yet well-meaning grandparents have taken over the house for Ginny’s wedding. When the family elders fail to remember Samantha’s birthday, she concludes all hope is lost and pouts to her mother, who remains ignorant of her daughter’s woes and orders her to take over household chores that evening. At dinner, Samantha excuses herself for the dance and her grandparents insist that she bring along their socially maladroit Chinese exchange student, Long Duk Dong. Samantha arrives at the event cautiously optimistic about seeing Jake. She catches his eye at the sidelines of the dance floor, and he winces in the embrace of his narcissistic girl friend, Caroline. Their momentary interlude is interrupted by “Farmer Ted,” who has made a secret bet with his friends that he will have sex with Samantha that night, and procure her underwear as evidence. Samantha runs away from the undesirable freshman in tears, fearing she has lost her chance to connect with Jake. When she disappears, Jake asks Ted about his mysterious admirer. Ted finds Samantha and confesses his shame of being sexually inexperienced. He implores her to bed him that evening, but she admits she is saving her virginity for Jake Ryan and is delighted to learn that Jake made inquiries about her earlier that evening. With new determination, Samantha grants Ted’s request for her underwear, allowing him to win his bet, and returns to the dance hall. However, she loses confidence and returns home in defeat. As the dance ends, Caroline organizes an impromptu party at Jake’s upscale house without his consent, and the home is destroyed. When everyone leaves, Jake finds Ted trapped underneath a coffee table and learns that he snuck into the party uninvited. Ted produces Samantha’s underwear, explaining that she helped him win his bet, even though she is saving herself for Jake. Jake admits he no longer loves Caroline, who is passed out drunk in his bedroom, and wants to establish a more meaningful relationship with Samantha. He offers to give Ted a wanton night with Caroline in exchange for Samantha’s underwear, and they haul the unconscious girl to the garage. There, Jake hands over keys to his father’s Rolls Royce and orders Ted to deliver Caroline home safely. As she comes to, Jake declares that he has switched bodies with Ted for the evening, and she nods in hazy recognition. Ted takes Caroline to his friends’ home as further evidence of his sexual prowess. The next morning, Ted and Caroline awaken in a church parking lot, unaware of what transpired after they left the boys’ house. Caroline is convinced they had sex, and admits she has feelings for Ted. As they kiss, Jake drives into the lot and ends his relationship with Caroline. Meanwhile, Samantha and her family head to church for Ginny’s wedding, which is bungled by the bride’s overdose of muscle relaxers and the groom’s brash humor. Jake arrives at Samantha’s house and unexpectedly reconvenes with Long Duk Dong, who is nursing a hang over from Jake’s party. Speaking in a thick Chinese accent, Dong erroneously reports that Samantha is getting married, and Jake is baffled that his new love interest is already betrothed. However, he goes to the chapel and waits for Samantha outside. As guests drive away, Samantha is surprised to see Jake, and accepts his invitation to spend the afternoon with him instead of going to the reception. Samantha’s birthday is finally acknowledged when Jake presents her with a cake, glowing with sixteen candles, and returns her underwear. When he encourages her to make a wish, she admits her dream already came true, and they kiss. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.