Including these guys
High school looks so brilliant, with its jocks, its nerds, its cheerleaders, it’s ne’er do well, it’s brainiacs, it’s ugly people with wonderful singing voices, it’s endless optimism about being the best. Nothing like school back in Blighty, where the only thing that defines different clans is the size of the knot in their school ties. Where’s the extravagance? Where are the road trips? The Glee cubs? Why can’t we have big brass bands and rap-attacks during assembly? Which leads seamlessly to the greatest ten films about the US education system…
Unless you were the enemy, you’ll remember that horrible shrinking feeling of being not quite as great looking, or wealthy, or stylish as some of the other kids at school. And look at them now, driving around in their cars, with their brilliant jobs, their four holidays and year, and their beautiful wives. Yeah, you showed them! Hence why movies like Heathers are still such a delight. Christian Slater does his finest Jack Nicholson impersonation, as he and Winona Ryder decide to get one up on these fuckers.
2. Dazed and Confuzed
In England the last day of school is flaccid affair. The brave ones might tell a couple of teachers to fuck themselves, but the rest of us silently shake hands, and retreat home to drink five ciders and weep into a pillow. Unlike over in America, where those cats go berserko! Dazed and Confused chronicles the last day of school in the Summer of 1976, everyone drives around, getting a little bit toasted on the good stuff. Far out.
3. The Breakfast Club
John Hughes’ best movie, The Breakfast Club finds Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, and Judd Nelson all career peaking, whilst Molly Ringwald puts in the second finest performance of her career. It’s the story of a geek, a twit, a prom thing, a doofus, a goth, a hippy, a dimwit, a douche bag, a moron, a stupid face, a nomark, a male model, a twunt, and a numb-nuts all sitting around through a long Saturday detention, attempting to figure out how they will ever get along.
Don’t be fooled by the sparkle of the television series that followed, the original movie of Fame was gritty with a capital G and RITTY. Yes, there were moments when these impressionable young singers and dancers broke out into routines – at one point famously taking things to the streets. But the undercurrent of the whole thing is bleak. They deal with abortion, being forced to get tits out situations, drugs, a flame-haired young man with confusing homosexuality issues. It’s like a late night episode of Hollyoaks turned up to fifty, plus DANCING.
5. American Pie
One of the classic high school jaunts, American Pie rises above Porky’s, thanks to it being much funnier. Both films find a load of high schoolers trying to get laid, but American Pie tackles the whole thing with tenderness and sophistication. That said, along the way, there are scenes of accidental sperm drinking, pudding rape, and the term MILF is coined for public consumption.
6. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The second of three John Hughes films to make the top ten, this chronicles a remarkably well-planned skive from school, which results in visits to art galleries, carnivals, and a mangled car. It also features Baby from Dirty Dancing playing out of character as a bee-atch. Mathew Broderick was never this good again, and days playing truant were never this good – a more realistic take on things would have found Ferris sitting in front of a Kyle and Trisha double bill, before spending the entire afternoon rifling through his own underpants. It also has the added bonus of Mia Sara, one of our many forgotten beauties.
The story of a small group of high school students on the quest for sex, yada yada yada etc… Like American Pie, the key difference here is that it’s funny and tender in equal measure, and it focusses on the tender bromance between two best friends, as has become the staple in Judd Apatow movies. Plus it has a little more in the canon, in the form of McLovin – the geeky sideshow character, who gets to ride with the police. With hilarious results etc…?
8. Pretty In Pink
Ringwald’s tour du force. She plays a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks – who is so poor she builds her own clothes from old curtains and bits of scrap metal – falling in love with a socialite called Blane, played by the hamster-cheeked Andrew McCarthy. Cue a Romeo and Juliet-like tale of love against the odds, as Blane’s sneering rich kid buddies repeatedly refer to her in dustbin terms, sometimes even to her face!
9. Peggy Sue Got Married
Make no mistake about it, we are enormous Kathleen Turner fans, and this is by far her best time traveling high school film – so good that it just managed to keep Back To The Future out of the top ten. Turner plays Peggy Sue, a bitter soon-to-be divorcee who passes out at a high school reunion, and ends up back in time at actual high school. There, she decides to relive her younger years, only this time, she’s going to get things right. That means dating a pretentious beatnik, making friends with some nerdy bloke, and then fucking it all up by basically marrying the same bastard she’s trying to divorce. From the director of The Godfather.
It was always going to be a very close battle for the final spot on the list, and Election just ousted Grease, Napolean Dynamite, Rushmore, and Scream at the very last minute. Reese Witherspoon is a politician in the making, running for High School President, whilst Matthew Broderick has gone from Bueller to teacher. It’s a weird film, and Witherspoon has never been better – even when she won the most coveted of golden dildos.
Without him, no Ferris…
Only a few days after being officially named our Fourth Favourite Film Director of all time, John Hughes was hoiked by the cruel sherpherd’s crook of death, as he suffered a fatal heart attack whilst enjoying a morning mooch around New York. In passing away terms, this is probably a bigger cock punch than Michael Jackson’s death for the Interestment Family. Afterall, MJ embarked on a massive artistic decline throughout the 1990s – followed by all those strange allegations about wine in coke cans, and spooky sleepovers – while Hughes hung up his director spurs in 1991, having rarely made a bad film. Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Trains Planes and Automobiles, Uncle Buck – some of the greatest films of the 1980s. Now that he’s passed, we can even forgive him Curly Sue. Look after him, God/Buddha/Mohamed/Science, he’s one of the good guys.
Some very popular ones didn’t make the cut…
While the actors lounge around in bed with models, or fill in the gaps between takes by embarking on wild drug sprees or talking to dead-eyed maniacs like Tom Cruise about Scientology, the real heroes are the guys behind the scenes, making sure that a movie fits with the amazing vision in their mind’s eye. Namely the directors. The ones who never had the correct quota of gorgeous looks and intense stage presence to make it in front of camera, so instead became visionaries. In many cases, the director’s name can take top billing away from the stars, so it was a merciless task whittling the list down to our favourite four. Some massive heroes didn’t get a look in, including: John Landis, Woody Allen, Martin Scorcese, Spike Lee, Russ Meyer, Sidney Lumet, Steven Spielberg, George Romero, and Stanley Kubrick. In the end, we went with these guys…
1. Alfred Hitchcock
The greatest man ever to come out of Leytonstone, and that includes David Beckham. It’s almost impossible to think of a mediocre Hitchcock film. At his peak – which ran roughly from the mid-1930s to the early 1960s – he churned out classic after classic, including The 39 Steps, Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Rope, Dial M for Murder. The list is absolutely gargantuan. The greatest film maker of all time, even though he looked a bit like the nodding dog from those insurance ads.
2. John Carpenter
A brilliant horror director, we like John Carpenter for lots of reasons, one of which being that he likes to put “John Carpenter’s…” before the actual title of many of his movies. We like that because directors don’t often get the recognition they deserve. And we like him for classics like Halloween, The Fog, The Thing, Christine, which were some of the creepiest films of the late 70s and early 80s. Plus we like his extravagant use of synthesizers in his films, and the fact that he often cast Kurt Russell – a criminally underrated actor – in the lead roles. He keeps David Cronenberg off the top four.
3. Quentin Tarantino
Ever since Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino appears to receive mixed reviews for pretty much all of his releases. This is probably because he set a very high standard early on, and critics being critics, they like to criticise. But it’s often missing the point that his films are never less than entertaining, stylish, and hip. Jackie Brown was fantastically good, Kill Bill looked glorious, and Death Proof – which got a bit of a panning – was a wonderful cap doff to exploitation films. We haven’t seen Inglorious Basterds yet. He keeps the likes of Russ Meyer, George Romero and Spike Lee out of contention.
4. John Hughes
John Hughes has directed just eight films, six of them are: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Trains Planes and Automobiles, and Uncle Buck. That is a phenomenal strike rate for amazing movies. All six were essential 1980s viewing. The man introduced the world to Molly Ringwald, John Candy, and the brilliant fictional town of Shermer, Illinois. All the while looking like a man who counts staples to liven up his day. His other two films were She’s Having a Baby and Curly Sue, fact fans. Both appalling.
Some fantastic movies missed out…
Were a decade ever yin/yanged, it was the 1980s. One part bleak, the other part loud, colourful, and a little bit transvestite. Depressed, unemployed miners wandered the streets in fluorescent shorts and crop tops, their exhausted wives secretly dried their evening tears on big yellow leg-warmers. Absolutely everyone had AIDS. Some might say that it was the decade that veered away from good taste, but you can ignore them, it’s just the pipe smoking women who are struggling to leave the 1970s art house alone. They’re idiots. We happen to adore 1980s cinema, and in our quest for a top four, some enormous names clunked onto the cutting room floor – ET, Purple Rain, Ghostbusters, Platoon, Back To The Future, Goonies, Scanners, Fletch, The Thing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off… the list is actually endless…
1. Breakdance: The Movie
Over in America, this was called Breakin’ – but that was probably a bit too slang for British tastes. In a decade awash with great underdog stories – The Karate Kid, Rocky IV, Teen Wolf – this was the most vibrant and moving. It’s the tale of a frustrated young jazz dancer making friends with some hardened breakdancers/bodypoppers, who like to earn their stripes by taking down suckers in street dancing battles. The final sequence features three toned go-getters teaching some crusty old people what being young is all about. The tears flowed like champagne that day.
The 1980s celebrated extreme violence, and movies don’t come much more gruesome than Robocop – the story of a good police officer getting shot to smithereens, before being resurrected in machine form. He’s a bit like a kinder version of Darth Vader, only in Detroit, and a policeman. In amongst the gore lurks a tale about the human spirit, and how it can never really die. This made Robocop not only a stomach turner, but something of a tear jerker too.
3. The Breakfast Club
By far the best of the John Hughes films, for a while this was the coolest film of all time – thanks mainly to Judd Nelson’s startling portrayal of a school rebel. He even trailblazed diamond earrings on sixth formers. Yes, he was that mega-wicked. Joining him was the spoilt little princess (Molly Ringwald), the geek (Anthony Michael Hall), the total douche (Emilio Estevez) and Little Miss Weirdo (Ally Sheedy). As with most films about teenagers, this one demands that we all just love one another, both emotionally, and probably a bit sexually too. Dynamic stuff.
4. 9 1/2 Weeks
At the height of their looks, Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger made for one very sexy couple. This was their ode to love making and milky desires in the middle of the night. It’s also one of about a million sex dramas made in the 1980s – notably including the brilliant Fatal Attraction, which very nearly made the list. In this, Rourke plays a mysterious stranger, who makes Basinger all giddy by smearing food on her, but doesn’t appear to be good husband-material. This, of course, drives her to the edge of insanity, which wouldn’t have pleased facial haired feminists one bit. A smashing film.
Detention never felt so sensual
Such is the unrepentant nature of the current financial downturn that new meals are being invented. Where once there was a mid-morning lunch known as “brunch”, there is now a one-meal-a-day rule in most workplaces/households, meaning that breakfasts are being mixed with dinners, lunches, suppers, tiffins, elevensies, and high teas – making “brunner”. One day, futuristic children with silver outfits and plastic haircuts won’t believe that humans used to eat three whole meals every day. Brunner will be all they know. Which makes great friend of the site, Woody‘s, amazing second hand discovery even more poignant and meaningful. “It’s The Breakfast Club, on Amazon, for a penny!” he roared, cheerfully. For those who don’t know, The Breakfast Club is the story of a geek, a twit, a prom thing, a doofus, a goth, a hippy, a dimwit, a douche bag, a moron, a stupid face, a nomark, a male model, a twunt, and a numb-nuts – all getting to know each other over a tense Saturday morning detention. It stars our second favourite redhead (after the sexy one in Mad Men), Molly Ringwald, and our third favourite Estevez, Emilio. A brilliant brilliant film. Get your 1p copy here.
Cage, Dillon, Penn, some other guy…
Watching Mickey Rourke rising from the flames like a lumpy phoenix with a strange surgically enhanced face at the Bafta Awards got us to remembering all of his old films. He was great in Angel Heart, Barfly, 9 1/2 Weeks. And, of course, Rumble Fish. What a line up in that film! Mickey Rourke, Dennis Hopper, Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Nicolas Cage, Chris Penn, Tom Waits. “Is this the most excellently cast film of all time?” we wondered, taking a big puff on a wooden pipe.
Other contenders include: The Towering Inferno – Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Fay Dunaway, Fred Astaire, OJ Simpson; Body Heat – William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Mickey Rourke, Ted Danson; The Breakfast Club – Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall; The Godfather – Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton etc…
But what is YOUR favourite cast of all time? Let us know with a comment…
And enjoy a tribute to Rumble Fish after the jump…