I began writing this article within minutes of hearing the news that John Hughes passed away unexpectedly this afternoon, and I'm still reeling a bit, more than I had anticipated. Like most movie fans of my generation, I first heard of him in the summer of 1983, when two movies he'd written, Mr. Mom and National Lampoon's Vacation, were released within a week of each other. I saw both, smiling at Mr. Mom and laughing hard throughout Vacation. The following year, Sixteen Candles, his directorial debut, hit theaters, and he was off to the races.
Hughes was a prolific writer and a busy producer throughout the 80s and 90s, leaving his personal stamp on dozens of projects, not to mention the eight films that he personally directed. He mined his suburban Midwestern teenage territory thoroughly, leaving no awkward, class-conscious, embarrassing, financially slighted, pretty in pink, uncomfortable stone unturned. He left behind so many memorable movie moments that it would be a foolhardy project for me to try and list them all, but here are seven of his greatest, listed chronologically.
1. National Lampoon's Vacation
Hughes expanded his own short story into an epic road trip, as the Griswold family heads west from Chicago on a "quest for fun" to Walley World. Along the way, they endure annoying relatives, smelly Aunt Edna, and a dog that becomes a drag. Oh, and Dad tries skinny dipping with a supermodel. The clip that seems most emblematic of their travails comes late in the picture, as Mom and the kids start complaining again, until Dad finally loses it. Hughes was an expert at using the "f-word" (and other profanity) to great comedic effect. [Watch clip after the jump.]