Once dubbed the "philosopher of adolescence" by film critic and fellow Chicagoan Roger Ebert, John Hughes made his mark as the man most frequently associated with the 1980s teen angst genre. With his name attached in some form to such genre classics as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Some Kind of Wonderful, Hughes was in large part responsible for defining the cinematic mood of a certain era. From Molly Ringwald's red hair to Ben Stein's monotonous "Bueller....Bueller," the characters and images in his films are still able to evoke a certain nostalgia in people who suffered through adolescence during the 1980s and remain as much of an embodiment of the decade's culture as shoulder pads and junk bonds.
Originally hailing from Lansing, MI, where he was born February 18, 1950, Hughes was 13 when he moved with his family to the Chicago suburbs. His adopted city would figure largely in his films, providing both a source of inspiration and a familiar setting for his stories. Hughes also found a good deal of inspiration in old Three Stooges movies, and hoped to one day bring his own spin on the Stooges' brand of slapstick to his own movies. His dreams of providing such slapstick for future generations were interrupted by a brief stint at Arizona State University (he dropped out during his junior year) and a subsequent job as an advertising copywriter, although he spent much of his spare time writing short stories, magazine articles, some unpublished novels, and jokes for stand-up comedians. In 1979, Hughes was made the editor of National Lampoon magazine, which at the time was basking in the warm glow of the success of joyfully ribald National Lampoon's Animal House (1978). The film's popularity led Hollywood to recruit various Lampoon writers to come up with movie ideas, which effectively provided Hughes with his first break as a professional screenwriter.