Mary Stuart Masterson, Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson in a publicity image for Some Kind of Wonderful

Writer-director John Hughes had just begun to make a name for himself with three films he made for Universal (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science) when Ned Tanen lured him over to Paramount with an overall deal designed to turn the filmmaker into a mogul. In less than three years, Hughes wrote, produced, and/or directed five movies for the studio (Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Some Kind of Wonderful, Planes Trains and Automobiles and She’s Having a Baby), all of which have now been reissued on Paramount’s “John Hughes 5-Movie Collection” Blu-ray with a generous supply of extra features, including a terrific piece in which Kevin Bacon interviews Hughes about Some Kind of Wonderful and She’s Having a Baby. Those two films make their Blu-ray debut in the package, and it’s great to rediscover them alongside the other three more widely celebrated movies; for me, She’s Having a Baby remains Hughes’ finest film as a director, witty and wise and self-deprecating, with an impeccably calibrated comedic performance by Kevin Bacon that shifts into a higher emotional gear in the picture’s deeply moving climax. It was not only Hughes’ best film but his most autobiographical and self-critical—and unfortunately, his least commercially successful. Its failure led Hughes to focus on broader, less personal comedies like the Home Alone series and a series of anonymous remakes and reboots (Miracle on 34th Street, 101 Dalmatians, Flubber) for the rest of his career; his best work was thus concentrated in a period of only around four years (from Sixteen Candles in 1984 to She’s Having a Baby in 1988), but in that four years he had the best run of any American writer-producer-director since Preston Sturges in the 1940s.

For his first production under the Paramount deal, Hughes chose to hand the directing reins over to Howard Deutch, a first-time feature filmmaker who had cut trailers for earlier Hughes movies like Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. The result, Pretty in Pink, would become a high point in both men’s filmographies thanks to Deutch’s careful attention to both visual detail and performance; it’s one of those debut films where a director with a lot to prove does so by infusing every frame with passion and artistry, resulting in a movie that’s got all of Hughes’s strengths in terms of observational humor and empathy but also feels more lived-in and authentic thanks to Deutch’s naturalistic and spontaneous approach. Deutch and Hughes’s follow-up collaboration, Some Kind of Wonderful, is equally strong, thanks in part to a working-class San Pedro setting that separates it from the suburban Chicago environments of Hughes’s other 1980s productions. Some Kind of Wonderful is funny, touching and another example of Deutch’s immense sensitivity when it comes to young performers; as the three members of the love triangle at the film’s center, Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Lea Thompson (who Deutch would later marry) perfectly capture what it’s like to be teenagers who feel uncomfortable in their own skins, and Deutch perfectly captures those performances with lens choices and framing that emphasize the characters’ loneliness, vulnerability, and giddy excitement. The movie’s effectiveness is all the more remarkable given the chaotic nature of its production, which Deutch joined late in the game; on the eve of the new Blu-ray release, I spoke to him by phone to get the story on how he pulled the film together.         

Filmmaker: Let’s start with the origins of Some Kind of Wonderful. How different was the initial script from the movie you ended up making? 

Howard Deutch: Totally different movie. It was a really hilarious comedy about this guy whose dream is to go on the greatest date of all time. He orchestrates a date that includes the Blue Angels flying overhead at the restaurant they’re in and stuff like that, and it was really an outrageous comedy, nothing like what we ended up making. And I didn’t know how to cast it, except for Michael Fox. I thought, “Michael Fox can do this,” and called him myself—I was so naïve I didn’t know that wasn’t how you did things. The next thing I knew, his lawyer and agents were calling me, screaming, “Who do you think you are, calling him directly?” But he passed, and then I didn’t know what to do.

I’d directed Pretty in Pink, but I was still a beginner. I was on a plane where I ended up sitting next to Brian De Palma, who I’d met once but didn’t really know very well. I told him about this thing that I was doing and that I didn’t know how to cast it. He just said, “Well, if you can’t cast it, you shouldn’t do it.” I thought, “Well, if Brian De Palma thinks I shouldn’t do it, I probably shouldn’t do it.” So I told Ned Tanen, the head of Paramount, “I don’t think I can cast it.” And the next morning, there was a padlock on my office. I was persona non grata. I was thrown off the studio lot. John wouldn’t talk to me. Everybody was mad at me. And I was like, “What?” I had no idea how much trouble I was in. There was another movie John had written called Oil and Vinegar that I wanted to do, and I thought I could just switch to that. But he was really upset with me.

Filmmaker: And Hughes was a notorious grudge holder. How did you get back in his good graces? 

Deutch: Not easily, that’s for sure. They had hired another director for Some Kind of Wonderful and John had tailored the script to this director, making it more dramatic. I got a call from Ned Tanen one night and he asked me, “Did you ever see Day for Night, the Truffaut movie?” And I hadn’t. He said, “Go to the video store right now and rent it, because it’s the story of your life.” So I watch Day for Night, and I…


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