“Big Baby”: Hughes Revisited

Originally posted on HE in March of last year (you can’t find it online otherwise):

“A friend has faxed me the pages of that John Hughes/”Big Baby” article that I mentioned the other day, the one that trashed him — despite Hughes being at the time the 25th most powerful person in Hollywood, according to the the then-thriving Premiere magazine — for being “one crazed, scary, capricious bully.” It turns out it was a January 1993 Spy magazine piece by Richard Lallich.

So here it is: page #1, page #2, page #3, page #4, page #5, page #6, page #7 and page #8.

“Apologies for the quality, but these are scans of faxed pages. At least they’re legible. The type may seem small at first but just double-click and zoom in.”

  • DeafBrownTrashPunk

    I’ve always been mystified as to why he suddenly quit making movies in 1991. Does anyone know?

  • George Prager

    Two words: Curly Sue.

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com Josh Massey

    Classy as always.

  • JVD

    I love how “Home Alone’s” $18.2 million budget was considered obscene at the time. Today, that flick would cost $50 million easy, and it would still only star Catherine O’Hara and John Heard.

  • MilkMan

    This article has aged about as well as Some Kind of Wonderful. Hughes was hard to get along with? Petulant? Took credit when he shouldn’t have? So fucking what. Sounds like everyone else who has ever worked in the film industry, most of whom were far less talented than Hughes. What was Don Simpson’s excuse? Scott Rudin’s? Joel Silver’s? Mike Ovitz’s? There all assholes. Tell me something I didn’t know when I was 7. Articles like this are the reason Spy folded. A magazine for bitches written by bitches. At least Hughes honed his chops at National Lampoon, the magazine Spy wanted to be but never could become. Kurt Andersen was a shitty journalist and then he became a shitty novelist and now he’s a shitty pundit.

  • Manitoba

    Knowing John Hughes and John Candy were close friends, I was just leafing through the Hughes mentions in my copy of “Laughing On The Outside: The Life of John Candy” by Martin Knelman. I was surprised to find that by early 1993 the relationship between Candy and Hughes had cooled, according to Knelman. Quote:”Candy was wounded and perplexed by the deep freeze he was getting from Hughes…Candy–who was extremely sensitive about anything resembling rejection –was crushed and upset when Hughes stopped returning his phone calls.”

  • va

    Man – Jeff didn’t slam the one gloved alleged pedophile last month….maybe Hughes is a raging conservative – that would explain the lack of respect in these posts…..

  • Imogen

    [The commenter "Imogen" is banned for life for spreading around ugliness, and particularly for directing it at myself.]

  • http://somecamerunning.typepad.com.com Glenn Kenny

    I have little idea of what Imogen means, but I’ll thank her to stop trying to kill my mother.

  • Josh Tate

    Now that was funny.

  • Yuval

    Seriously Imogen, reject evil and come back into the light. Don’t forget your teachings, go back to the sacred Rings DVDs. If Master Frodo could have seen Gollum’s human past behind the ugliness and twitchiness, you can see the child behind Wells’ hate that wants nothing more than to kneel on John Hughes’ grave and recite memorable quotes from the eternal classic “The Breakfast Club”.

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    They cynically hip won’t admit it, but a piece of our childhoods died today. Be nice if Jeff could have refrained just once from pissing on the tombstones of the recently departed.

  • arturobandini2

    I was surprised to learn that, after Breakfast Club, Hughes only spent about three days writing each of his subsequent scripts. The studios green-lit his first drafts, and he refused to rewrite. Paul Hirsch has talked frankly about what a bitch it was to cut his movies. The events in Ferris Bueller, for instance, had to be jumbled in the editing room in order to make sense (the downtown parade was the first stop in the script). And Hughes would overshoot like a sonofabitch, doing close-ups, mediums and long shots for every line. Though I disliked it when it came out, I now think Bueller turned out to be Hughes’ most enjoyable movie. Unfortunately, it’s George Will’s favorite movie of all time.

  • arturobandini2

    And MilkMan, I must admit that when Spy was on its game, it was delightful. I’ll never forget their “Who’s the Cheapest Celebrity in America?” feature, where they mailed a thousand celebrities a generic check for like, 59 cents, and then published a list of everyone who cashed it.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    For getting ugly-personal and thereby ignoring the only fundamental law of HE talkback, Imogen is a dead man. He’s through, banished, rejected, zotzed. As soon as I get home….

  • Glenn Kenny

    I thought Imogen was a girl’s name…

  • Travis Crabtree

    “Unfortunately, it’s George Will’s favorite movie of all time.”

    (GASP!)

    Well! That tears it! I will NEVER watch that movie again. EVER!

    ….. Jesus I swear some of you are practically parodies of yourselves.

  • arturobandini2

    Travis, you’re sooooo thin-skinned and sour, not unlike George Will himself. He loves Ferris Bueller b/c it idolizes a rich, lazy fuck obsessed with materialism who gets away with destroying other people’s property, snags a trophy wife-to-be and leaves the mop-up work to his friend. It’s porn for Republicans. But Edie McClurg, Jeffrey Jones and Lyman Ward more than make up for it.

  • JackMP

    http://wellknowwhenwegetthere.blogspot.com/2009/08/sincerely-john-hughes.html

    Fascinating story that was just passed along to me by a friend of this woman. It seems like it would be easy to dismiss this as a possible hoax, but a huge part of me really doesn’t want to believe that. I’ll take his word for it…

  • Travis Crabtree

    No, I’m not thin-skinned and sour. I’m just glad I don’t go through life letting politics and/or political opinion color EVERY aspect of everything.

    Seriously. Do you do a Google search before watching a movie to make sure all of the actors in it follow a prescribed political doctrine. (“Nope, can’t watch “Philadelphia Story’. Jimmy Stewart was an evil Republican”)

    You’re so fucking boring.

    And did it maybe ever occur to you that Will liked the movie for the same reasons you do? Because it’s fucking funny?

    You really aren’t real, are you, arturobandini2? You’re just a parody of people like you? Am I right? (god I hope so)

  • arturobandini2

    Travis Crabtree: “No, I’m not thin-skinned and sour. I’m just glad I don’t go through life letting politics and/or political opinion color EVERY aspect of everything.”

    Me: Really? Because it colors 99% of everything you post on HE.

  • DarthCorleone

    Leaves the mop-up work to his friend? If that and those other things are why George Will loves the movie, then he (and evidently you as well) missed the point.

    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off works first and foremost as a comedic, escapist fantasy, yes, but there is a depth of character going on there that you’re not acknowledging. Ferris did Cameron a favor, and whether it’s beyond the suspension of disbelief that it was by design or not, the fact that Ferris cares that much about the betterment of his friend’s life and a very crummy relationship with an emotionally abusive father resonates amazingly well after all the silliness that came before. Add this to Jeannie’s arc that enabled her to look beyond envy for her brother and to care about him as her sibling, and you have a movie that’s about much more than the materialism you claim. Beneath that immature veneer that gives a damn about whether or not he has his own car, Ferris is very much about making his fellow human beings happy, and his performance in the parade is a testament to that. You can’t watch the art museum scene and claim that this movie doesn’t have much more going on. It has real soul.

  • arturobandini2

    Darth, that scene at the Art Institute is awesome. It elevates the whole movie. But I disagree with your other points. Ferris’s rationale for trashing the Spyder — that it was for Cameron’s good — is a facile and outrageous justification. We’ve seen him abuse Cameron’s non-confrontational nature throughout the movie; this is the coup de grace. If Cameron grew a REAL spine, he’d say, “Not this time, Bueller. I’m not taking the fall. You explain to my dad how you’re gonna pay for his car and his garage.” Single-handedly taking the blame is masochistic and self-destructive, not heroic. The family love stuff … nah, not buying it, either. Jeannie’s hormones are going a mile a minute at the end, that explains her abrupt change of character. Ferris Bueller IS a great escapist comedy, but what it’s escaping from is a sense of honor and personal obligation. And more power to it … as long as it’s not your favorite movie. A favorite movie is like a mantra.

  • Studly Semite

    This article is a whiny hit piece that clearly showcases the envy journalists in the 90s felt for Hollywood writers who were earning 100x what they made. While it seems like Hughes in on some major psychiatric drugs (amphetamines, probably), this article also illustrates the obvious — that Hughes betrayed his creations of misfits and uncool kids, becoming the exact caricature of loathsome adults that his teenage characters rallied against. That is what so sad — not that he produced Curly Sue, Home Alone, Dutch and Baby’s Day Out — but that he never lived up to his promise and brilliance of the films he made from 84-88 as a director (I am omitting She’s Having a Baby), becoming the 1990’s Billy Wilder, because he failed as a human. Hughes was the reason I started to write in high school and but I was acutely aware when he entered the realm of lameness and I never looked back after he willingly crossed the line with Uncle Buck and then Home Alone. Hughes is not a causality of Hollywood so much as lesson for writers everywhere that as an artist who pushes the boundaries and then wins acclaim, you need to continually expand yourself as a person, otherwise your empire will collapse inward on you.

  • Travis Crabtree

    “Because it colors 99% of everything you post on HE.”
    Really? Point to the last time I went political when it WASN’T in reaction to something someone else said.

    For example….you. Here we are having this lovely discussion about Hughes and in particular “Ferris Bueller….” and you go on this lame-ass, community college sophomore coffee house bullshit tangent on how it’s a Republican wet dream though one can still enjoy it despite that fact that it is also enjoyed by a guy who is a conservative newspaper columnist.

    Enough with you, piss ant.

    Good points by Darth and Semite, though.

    I saw it right out of high school and liked it because it was funny. That’s it. It was funny. And you know what? Since so few movies actually succeed at being funny, I quite enjoy the ones that are.
    It was a high school fantasy.

    I weep for the future indeed.

  • Terry McCarty

    From the Hughes canon, the keepers among the films of his I’ve seen: NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES–and, yes, HOME ALONE.

    Unfortunately, Hughes (uising his powers of infinite formula repetition) cranked out a lot of superdisposable junk–some I suffered through (WEIRD SCIENCE, THE GREAT OUTDOORS) and some I was careful to avoid (DENNIS THE MENACE, BABY’S DAY OUT).

  • Baltimore

    Hughes was a big fan of Rushmore, which is appropriate b/c the Wilsons and Wes Anderson admired Hughes’ work.

    Terry, despite the cloying ads and a few strained bits, Dennis the Menace contains great performances amidst some surprisingly endearing comedy … and astutely observed human cruelty that few movies capture as well. It actually functions in different ways for an audience more diverse than Hughes’ usual.

    As for horrific Baby’s Day Out, ignore the pathetic parent-FBI scenes and baby and instead focus on Joe Mantegna’s gradual emergence as the slow-burn villain (helped by sidekick Brian Hale)…they’re brilliant together = better than Pesci-Stern in some of the greatest slapstick ever captured in color (on par w/ Tom Hanks’ 80s best). Even bitterly micromanaged director Patrick Read Johnson (whose career wasn’t helped by this big-budget flop) graciously appreciated Hughes’ intermittent genius during the DVD commentary.

  • Renfield

    Wells, posting this “piece” is pretty desperate.

    Spy Magazine? TMZ is like Cronkite when done as a comparison.

    I don’t give a fuck what the guy was like as a human being because that’s not what I’m judging. That’s not what he’s presenting. I’m looking at his art form, his written and presented through actor’s words, and the image for those that he sees in his mind.

    So the guy screams, has fits and fires people…. I don’t care. Did the head chef bitch-out the meat station because it is not cooked to his/her liking? I don’t care. Just make it come out to the table to my liking.

    We should be looking at the end result in this format. Anything outside of that is tabloid and nil.

    With that said, in my book, Hughes has a resume that is well beyond gold in terms of creative writing and directing.

    Show a little respect.

  • Renfield

    One more thing…

    I worked for one of the craziest bastards that has ever worked in this industry for seven years. I’ll tell you this…. whoever was anonymously quoted in that Spy Magazine article on Hughes is a fucking pussy.

    Ohhh my lord! Meet a director who doesn’t like the set-design! Have an interview that has nothing to do with film but with the director’s interests so maybe he can get along with you on a personal basis and find a way to connect? Outlandish!!!!

    Be a man or a woman! The quotes should have had cartoon “shake” lines around them.

    Hang on a second…. Trying to renew my subsciption to Spy Magazine.

  • actionman

    JackMP — that link is AMAZING. One of the best Hwood-related things I’ve ever read. I really hope it’s all true.

  • Tristan Eldritch2

    That link from JackMP almost made up for another pointless, mean-spirited dig at the recently deceased from HE.

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    Yet to watch this one, I am sure, it will be as good as the one I just saw here!
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  • doublexjohn

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    Ohhh my lord! Meet a director who doesn’t like the set-design! Have an interview that has nothing to do with film but with the director’s interests so maybe he can get along with you on a personal basis and find a way to connect? Outlandish!!!!

    Be a man or a woman! The quotes should have had cartoon “shake” lines around them.

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  • pooh12

    Taking Woodstock was just too big an undertaking, I suppose. In the same way that Lang and his partners instigated but couldn’t control the enormity and chaos of the ’69 festival, Lee was also overwhelmed. Tough fame, tough call, I’m sorry. Better luck next time.
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    Yeah, I know it’s a broken record with me, but this looks like yet another great movie that nobody outside of NY and LA will see because SPC will slow and tightfisted with the rollout. best driver updater

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  • ap222

    JOHN HUGHES hasn’t set foot in Hollywood for years, but his influence has never been more potent. The king of 1980s comedy, Hughes now qualifies as something of a Howard Hughes-style recluse — he doesn’t have an agent, doesn’t give interviews and lives far away, somewhere in Chicago’s sprawling North Shore suburbs where most of his films were set.
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    All the parts of Home Alone are my favourite ones… It is sad for me to admit that I found out the director of them only now and he is – John Hughes or ‘Big Baby’.
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