The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American teen film written and directed by John Hughes. The storyline follows five teenagers (each a member of a different high school clique) as they spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all deeper than their respective stereotypes. The film has become a cult classic and has had a tremendous influence on many coming-of-age films since then. It was shot entirely in sequence. Shooting began on March 28, 1984 and ended in May 1984.

Main Characters

  • John Bender: (Judd Nelson) The ‘criminal’ of the group, in detention for pulling a false fire alarm. He starts many of the events throughout the film. While he is hostile at first toward the others, he defends Allison against Mr. Vernon (“She doesn’t talk, sir.”). From a troubled working class background, John is a victim of child abuse, particularly by his father. While it seems at the beginning that he dislikes the others, he is very upset when Andy doesn’t believe his imitation of life at his house (“That’s bullshit. It’s all part of your image I don’t believe a word of it.”). His softer side is revealed throughout the movie and eventually falls for Claire, the character he teased the most.

  • Andrew Clark: (Emilio Estevez) Andrew is the film’s ‘athlete’, in detention for beating a fellow student and taping his buttocks together. Andrew, like Claire, is ashamed of being in detention and is used to the better end of social life at school. He is popular at school and at first is timid to befriend all the other students in detention. By the end of the movie, he begins a fling with Allison and is not ashamed to admit it.

  • Claire Standish: (Molly Ringwald) The princess of the group, in detention for skipping class to go to the mall. She is used to being sheltered by her group of friends and doting parents who only pamper her in order to spite each other, a fact of which she is painfully aware. She is from an upper middle class background. She is snobby and stuck up and admits to not having the desire to hang out with anyone who is not popular. She likes to be left alone during detention until she helps Allison fix her image and respond to Andrew’s feelings towards her.

  • Allison Reynolds: (Ally Sheedy) The ‘basket case’ of the group, she is in detention because she “had nothing better to do.” She is the most socially isolated and claims to have no friends. For the first half of the film she is quiet, save for occasional squeaks of fear and a few random outbursts, and contributes nothing to the conversations between the others. Later on she opens up, particularly to Andy. She is from a middle class background and is mostly perceived as a lonely introvert. Her loneliness and claim to have no friends is due to her social awkwardness. However, after Claire’s beauty tips, she is transformed into a beautiful girl and is approached by Andy.

  • Brian Johnson: (Anthony Michael Hall) The “brain” of the group, who is in detention for bringing a flare gun to school (with suicidal intent). At home, Brian is pressured by his parents to be a perfect academic. The pressure he deals with everyday causes his great distress and depression. He tries to keep peace in the group. He writes the ending letter and gives the group the name “The Breakfast Club.”

  • Principal Richard “Dick” Vernon: (Paul Gleason) The aggravated principal who mainly dislikes Bender because of his smart mouth and disrespect that he shows towards authority. He is uptight and always in attempt to get the students in trouble. Vernon is caught by Carl reading the private school files, for which Carl blackmails him $50. Despite this, he bonds with Carl, confessing various fears about the current generation. “Someday these kids are gonna be running the country. This is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night.”

  • Carl Reed: (John Kapelos) A school janitor who is “the eyes and ears of this institution” (‘this institution’ being Shermer High School). Carl seems to know the students at the school very well, and when Vernon tells him, “Someday, these kids are gonna take care of me,” he replies, “Don’t count on it.” During the beginning sequence of shots of Shermer High School, a portrait of a younger Carl Reed in the part of the alumni gallery (Man of the year) can been seen, establishing that Carl previously attended the school.

Each of the film’s young stars became part of the Brat Pack (whose other members include Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy and Demi Moore), a group of actors who found fame at the same time and were sometimes cast in movies together. John Hughes appeared in an uncredited role as Brian’s father. Of the entire cast, only Hall and Ringwald were actually high school age upon the movie’s release; Nelson was twenty-five while Sheedy and Estévez were both twenty-two years old.

The film stands as a classic for teen culture of the 1980’s, later dubbed generation X.

Emilio Estevez was originally cast to play John Bender, but because Hughes couldn’t find anyone to play Andrew Clark, Estevez agreed to take the role. Nicolas Cage was being considered for the role of John Bender. Bender was the last role to be cast, and it was between John Cusack and Judd Nelson. Hughes eventually cast Cusack to play John Bender but decided to replace him with Nelson before shooting began because Cusack didn’t look threatening enough for the role.[1] Molly Ringwald also wanted to play Allison Reynolds, but Ally Sheedy had already been promised the part. Rick Moranis was originally cast as the janitor; he left due to creative differences and was replaced by John Kapelos.

Judd Nelson’s performance was influenced by his method style technique of staying in character off set. He was accused of bullying Molly Ringwald due to his insistence on remaining in character when the camera was not rolling. This behavior nearly forced Hughes to fire Nelson, but Nelson was defended by Paul Gleason, his on-screen nemesis, who stated that Nelson was just trying to stay in character and did not mean anything by it.

Ringwald and Hall dated briefly after filming ended.

Shooting began on March 28, 1984 in Des Plaines, Illinois and ended in May 1984. Maine North High School was used in the filming of The Breakfast Club, the same school used for some of the school-based scenes in John Hughes’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which was released just a year after The Breakfast Club. Some of the posters on the walls during filming of The Breakfast Club were still there when Ferris Bueller was filmed. On the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off DVD commentary (featured on the 2004 DVD version) John Hughes reveals that he filmed the two movies back to back to save time and money, and some outtakes of both films feature elements of the film crews working on the other film in each case. Hughes has never disclosed, however, whether Ferris Bueller was intended to be a student at the same school as The Breakfast Club students a year later.

Maine North High School was closed for two years before John Hughes stepped in and used it as a filming location for The Breakfast Club.

In 2005, MTV announced that the film would be rewarded with the Silver Bucket of Excellence Award in honor of its twentieth Anniversary at the MTV Movie Awards. To coincide with the event, MTV attempted to reunite the original cast. Sheedy, Ringwald, and Hall appeared together on stage, with Kapelos in the audience, and Gleason personally gave the award to his former castmates. Estévez could not attend the reunion because of other commitments, and Nelson appeared earlier in the show but left before the on-stage reunion for reasons unknown, prompting Hall to joke that the two were “in Africa with Dave Chappelle.” This show was taped on May 28, 2005 and aired on June 9.

Info gleaned from Wikipedia

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