Does a Green Light for Hughes Doc Mean Absolution for John Hughes?


Variety reports that Don’t You Forget About Me, the documentary that asks, “What ever happened to John Hughes?,” has been picked up by Alliance Films of Montreal. In what must be a bittersweet turn of events for director Matt Austin-Sadowski, it took the late filmmaker‘s sudden death last week for the project to finally gain attention, and now, a distributor.

The documentary is only one of several nostalgic remembrances of Hughes that have come to light recently. One blogger wrote about being pen pals with Hughes as a high schooler. In the Wall Street Journal, Jovi Juan looked back on Sixteen Candles, which was filmed next-door to the house he grew up in. It’s not surprising that so many people had personal connections to Hughes, a man whose stock-in-trade was not the dastardly machinations that pass for high school drama on Gossip Girl, but old-fashioned high school angst.

Something about Hughes’ personal story strikes us as oddly familiar, almost the stuff of screenwriting. A popular director with a cult following throws it all away, spends decades in obscurity and dies quietly, only to then be lionized by all the fans and admirers that were there all along. It could be a modern-day Sunset Boulevard, right? Hughes has been compared to J.D. Salinger, and it’s easy to see the parallels: the only thing you ever hear about Salinger these days is that he’s suing someone to protect his copyright on The Catcher in the Rye. Similarly, the last we had heard about Hughes before his death is that he was in court over a dispute involving Maid in Manhattan.

It’s so spookily obvious now that it would eventually turn out this way, with nostalgia and a documentary and everything. But is that the real story? Call it The Breakfast Club fallacy: “You see us as you want to see us…in the simplest definitions and the most convenient terms.” Maybe John Hughes doesn’t need absolution; maybe was happy living a so-called “reclusive” life with his family. Maybe he put all the angst behind him, and now it’s just ours.