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John Hughes: A Life in Film: The Genius Behind Ferris Bueller, The Breakfast Club, Home Alone, and more

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  181 ratings  ·  40 reviews
"There's no way I'm going to end a movie on a negative note." - John Hughes

He allegedly wrote Ferris Bueller's Day Off in four days, Planes, Trains and Automobiles in three days, The Breakfast Club in two days, and Vacation in a week. He never went to film school or studied cinema. And he spent most of his incredible career in the Midwest, far from the Hollywood Hills.
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 25th 2015 by Race Point Publishing (first published January 19th 2015)
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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 ·  181 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Gabriel Blake
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Love it.
Being an 80s kid and eventually a teenager, the movies of John Hughes played a big role in my life. I have him to thank for making me fall in love with stars like John Candy, Kevin Bacon, Steve Martin, and Matthew Broderick to name a few. Then there are those many magnificent movies. My first was Weird Science and from then on I was hooked. Nobody needs me to say the man was a complete genius. He knew what kids my age wanted and he wrote and made the movies we loved.

Reading this book w
Mar 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Kind of disappointing, but there were some interesting tidbits in it all the same. I think the thing that disappointed me the most was that the author didn't get interviews with Hughes' family or close friends, who were part of his life after he quit making films, etc. Also, he quoted a lot of the same people repeatedly and I know some quotes were restated in different ways repeatedly. If you're noticing shit like that, odds are it's because it's getting on your nerves, at least a little bit (ju ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
A few inaccuracies, spelling mistakes and a wrongly captioned photograph made completing this book a struggle; how could I read a book about an admired filmmaker if they didn’t know the difference between Pretty and Pink and Sixteen Candles!

That minor bugbear aside I found the insight into Hughes’ professionalism interesting to say the least. For hardcore fans there’s no new revelations in these pages but an expected absence of the man himself.
Maggie Carr
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
I thought I would learn more about the director himself, and while I gained tidbits reading this title, it felt more like a line of film summaries with some quotes, movie posters, photographs and no direct insight from family who didn't participate in the biography at all. I've always had my favorite John Hughes titles: The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful, I had no idea he was credited for so much more in the film industry. ...more
Tom Houlton
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"There's no way I'm going to end a movie on a negative note"

Honneycutt delivers a superb background knowledge of Hughes and his films.

Although I don't understand how a fan of Hughes cannot understand the genius complexity of the characters in 'Christmas Vacation' or the unique beauty of 'Curly Sue', but apart from that he reveals some great information to recount to your friends and family.
A must read!
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
#2 of 120 books pledged to read during 2021
Marathon County Public Library
John Hughes is the creative force behind numerous memorable films throughout the 1980s and early '90s, including "The Breakfast Club", "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", "Home Alone", "Sixteen Candles," and "Pretty in Pink". In this book, author Honeycutt gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at each of the films Hughes wrote (and sometimes directed), and explores Hughes' relationships with stars like Molly Ringwald and John Candy, whom he cast in many of his films. The author also writes about how Hu ...more
Jul 26, 2015 rated it liked it
An 'okay' overview of writer/director John Hughes and his impressive and VERY influential impact on movies during the 80s and beyond. However, much as expected, being this is a sort of 'coffee table book' with dozens of photos and larger print, it is not as in-depth as I had hoped since it was written by a Hollywood reporter insider. There are quotes and actual interviews with cast members and production staff from the films and the reader learns of Hughes' odd personality of varying fidelity an ...more
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2015
Reading this one hit me with a wave of sweet nostalgia for my teenage years thanks to John Hughes and his endless assault on the teen movie canon. The 1980s was the zenith in film history for teen films and Hughes was the king. The book is photo heavy--which was the best thing about it actually. Having Honeycutt dissect the films through the prism of 2015's politically correct onslaught was annoying as all get out and Honeycutt brings some social slight or culture comment almost every single fil ...more
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
I found this book to be oddly depressing. Also, it's not well written, and it could have used a strong editor (to break up the sections more, help the book flow more smoothly, and also correct some glaring errors). That said, it was fun to read behind-the-scenes stories of some beloved movies from my teenage years, so that kept me interested enough to read through "Some Kind of Wonderful." Much of the time, the author was actually reviewing the movie, which seemed unnecessary. Also, why this hug ...more
Sarah Jackson
Jan 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Really one for the fans. Having said that I was rather impressed with the level of research and detail the author put into this book. As a teenager of the eighties I saw many a John Hughes film and this book was a real trip down memory lane. Easy to read, great photos and interesting facts.
J Earl
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
In John Hughes: A Life in Film Kirk Honeycutt offers a nice overview of Hughes' career through a mix of film criticism and biography. While this volume is not fully a biography nor in-depth film criticism it has enough elements of each to satisfy most readers.

First, lets mention that this will appeal to many Hughes fans but might be off-putting to his Fans. The former accept that opinions about people and films vary and supported criticism (which Honeycutt's is) can only lead to a fuller appreci
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although it doesn’t contain interviews with the Hughes family, and a lot of the content is anecdotal, it does centre around stories from those who knew him professionally over the years and through this we feel like we get to know him. He may have had a stormy relationship with Hollywood as the eternal outsider, and may have never truly grown up (he is accused of being a child quite regularly), but there is something to admire in his crazy and meteoric rise in the movie business.
I don’t believe
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
There were a few things I didn't know about his movies but nothing that a quick Wikipedia search and read wouldn't tell me. ...more
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating read. I enjoyed learning about one of my favorite directors and the processes of how his movies were made.
Dec 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I noticed some little factual inaccuracies, which may have been intentional oversimplifications of details, but otherwise an insightful analysis of Hughes and his films.
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. I grew up on John Hughes movies and they hold a very special spot in my heart.
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss, read-in-15
Received via Edelweiss in exchange for a fair review.

I didn't realize how many movies John Hughes had his fingers in. The iconic 80's movies everyone knows, of course. But Beethoven, Dennis the Menace, Baby's Day Out? I had no clue.

This book needs to be read as John Hughes' life being told through his films. It's not a memoir, or a biography. We're not dealing with his family life, short of what you learn from his experience making She's Having a Baby, the most autobiographical film he made.
Hanalei1208 Be
Hughes allegedly wrote Ferris Bueller's Day Off in four days, Planes, Trains and Automobiles in three days, The Breakfast Club in two days, and Vacation in a week. He never went to film school or studied cinema. And he spent most of his incredible career in the Midwest, far from the Hollywood Hills. John Hughes was indeed one of the most prolific and successful filmmakers in Hollywood history. He helped launch the careers of Andrew McCarthy, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Macaulay Culkin, ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was so interesting. I love John Hughes movies so I loved reading about all the behind the scenes things. It’s too bad I took this one out of the library as several pages were missing so I’d just get into a story or anecdote and the next page would be gone.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you're a fan of John Hughes films - odds are good you likely are - this book is for you. He wrote or directed some of my favorite movies - Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off to name a few - and these movies still hold up, and still make me laugh 25, 30 years later.

Honeycutt explores every movie in-depth and odds are good you'll learn something about each of Hughes's films. I didn't know he had such battles with studios
Aug 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Essentially a coffee table book, but still a fun walk down memory lane recalling John Hughes' prolific output in the 80s and 90s. Insight into his creative process, disdain for Hollywood, and difficult nature were insightful, as were revelations about his dogged devotion to his family and the autobiographical bent of his earlier films. Hughes had faded long before he passed away but you have to wonder if he had one more amazing tale up his sleeve. ...more
Mary Bronson
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I thought this was an interesting book about John Hughes. This book hit all of John's movies from National Lampoon to his 80s teen classics and many more. I liked how there was detail on each of the movies. I learned that even though he was a movie genius sometimes he was hard to work with and that a lot of his go to actors like Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald went years without talking to him. ...more
Tim Beck
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
growing up as a child of the 80's, it's natural for me to find deep connection and longing for John Hughes movies. he spoke the language of a teenager that i connected with even before i fully understood or was one.

John Hughes: A Life in Film was a trip down memory lane, filled with hidden information that paints a picture of a creative genius who defined a generation. imperfections and all. and that just makes me appreciate him all the more.

Jesse Stoddard
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful pictorial journey through John Hughes films, with some keen interviews from those close to the game. I love so much about this book, but the author totally misses it with his critical review of Christmas Vacation. He listed its faults while refusing to admit so much as a crumb of its brilliance. Overall, the life of Hughes was incredible and anyone growing up with his 80's films in particular would be remiss to skip this tribute. ...more
Jeff Grosser
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's nice that every book I read about John Hughes reveals something new about him that I didn't already know. The extra bonus in this book is that it not only covers John's work on his most famous films, but it also gives a lot of information on just about all of his films.

It still makes me sad that John left us way too early.
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
I've always loved John Hughes' teen movies since I was a teen myself when they came out. I'll admit I didn't realize he was involved in so many other movies. I found the behind-the-scenes stories of my favorite movies very interesting. Unfortunately, the book takes a darker turn as did Hughes' life, and the Hollywood politics wasn't as interesting. ...more
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Kirk Honeycutt, the author, obviously had a huge love/hate crush on John Hughes. For every great and amazing thing John does, we get to read about so many things John did that were crazy or evil. I enjoyed the behind the scenes memories from the actors but too much recap of the films. "don't you forget about me" ...more
Gato Negro
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Aside from a few glaringly obvious errors, this was an easy to read and enjoy step back in time to relive some of my favorite movies. The book paints John Hughes as being temperamental, difficult, harsh, and a chain smoking night owl, but who cares? I am and will forever be a big, big fan. RIP John Hughes!
Lisa Mcbroom
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
To be honest I was a bit dissappointed by this book. I felt it glossed over Hughes life and especially the movies. A much better work is You COuldn't Ignore Me if you Tried by Susanna Gora that exaimes Hughes influence in 80's culture. ...more
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