Sixteen Candles (1984)

Sixteen Candles was the directing debut of John Hughes. He wrote this film after asking his agent for headshots of young actresses and was so inspired by Molly Ringwald’s photo that he put it over his desk and wrote this movie over a weekend just for her.

Filmed primarily in and around the Chicago North Shore suburban communities of Evanston, Skokie, and Highland Park, Illinois — where Hughes spent his teen years — with fifteen-year-old leads Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall, this movie would go on to start the Brat Pack, who dominated the theaters, hearts and minds of the mid 1980’s.

Samantha “Sam” Baker wants her sixteenth birthday to be the start of her amazing new life, but everyone has forgotten it. Her sister Ginny is getting married, her grandparents have taken over the house and her dream man, Jake Ryan has no interest she exists.

To make things worse, she must deal with Ted (Hall), the geek of all geeks, who is so in love with her that he tries to take her panties to win floppy disks in a bet.

The actual story of the movie is pretty simple. There’s a dance, a party and the hijinks that ensue as the result. Along the way, Sam and Jake find love, Ted finds Jake’s ex-girlfriend (Haviland Morris, Gremlins 2: The New Batch) and there’s the introduction of one of the most racist Asian carictures of all time, Long Duk Dong.

This movie was also one of the first films for Jami Gertz and John and Joan Cusack. Plus, there are cameos by Zelda Rubenstein (Poltergeist) and Brian Doyle-Murray, which please me to no end.

Much like Revenge of the Nerds, the Caroline/Ted scenes can be seen as rape today. Then again, some think that she’s an example of the upper class being taken down and re-educated by the lower class. Your mileage and upsetness by this scene may vary.

Does this movie exist in the same universe as the other Hughes movies? You bet. My evidence? The same moving shot of the exterior of the high school at the opening of the movie was refilmed — with the same motions — for the end of Weird Science.

If John Hughes was alive, I’d ask him how damaged he was by having his extended family stay in his house. Between the Home Alone films, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and this film, it keeps coming up in his work.

This movie came out when I was 12. As such, I fell in love with Molly Ringwald and wondered why no girls like her existed in my town. The truth was, this perfect person only lived in one place: the Shermer, IL inside John Hughes’ mind.

The new Arrow Video release of this movie is packed with everything you expect from the label. Aside from a new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative, there are multiple ways to see the movie, like the theatrical and extended versions, as well as the alternated VHS/laserdisc track that had different audio.

It’s also packed with extras, interviewing everyone from the casting and music director of the film to all-new interviews with Gedde Watanabe, Deborah Pollack, John Kapelos, filmmaker Adam Rifkin (who was an extra on the film and shadowed Hughes), camera operator Gary Kibbe and composer Ira Newborn.

There’s also A Very Eighties Fairytale, a video essay written and narrated by writer Soraya Roberts that explores the feminist perspective of the film and an archival documentary, Celebrating Sixteen Candles. Plus, of course, there are trailers, TV and radio ads, new artwork and a collectors’ book on the first printing of this release.

You can order it here.

DISCLAIMER: This movie was sent to us by Arrow Video.

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