Director Howard Deutch’s PRETTY IN PINK debuted on February 28, 1986 and became an instant classic in the hearts of many. Written by John Hughes, the romantic dramedy told a staggeringly honest, heartfelt story about a teenage girl from the wrong side of the tracks (Molly Ringwald) who falls in love with a cute, “richie” (Andrew McCarthy) all whilst her quirky best friend with puppy-dog eyes (Jon Cryer) looks on. Hughes, who’s widely considered to be the voice of a generation, had written the part of “Andie” for his BREAKFAST CLUB star Ringwald and thus an iconic film was born.
To mark the film’s 30th anniversary, we’ve culled a whole slew of anecdotes and fun facts from the 2006 “Everything’s Duckie” edition DVD bonus features and IMDB. So let’s pile into a metaphorical pink Karmann Ghia, pump up that new wave mix tape and cruise back to 1986!
John Hughes had been sitting on this idea since high school. On the DVD, he admitted, “For a long time I had thought about it as a boy’s story. But then I thought, nah. I think it would be more interesting if, having seen it as a male writer, writing for a female. It was something I wrote for Molly.” This is fascinating to note as Hughes later went on to write Some Kind of Wonderful – the same tale but from the male point of view, also directed by Deutch. It’s also worth noting that SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL allowed Hughes to stick with PINK’s original sentiment that the poor class should stick together.
Deutch got the job from his work cutting trailers to Hughes’ films. Deutch had previously directed music videos for Billy Idol and Billy Joel. He also cut the trailers for Hughes’ SIXTEEN CANDLES and THE BREAKFAST CLUB.
Iona and Andie’s workplace Trax was modeled after Wax Trax in Chicago.
Annie Potts’ rubber dress was uncomfortable AF. Applause, applause, applause to Potts for taking one for the team with that skin-tight, shiny rubber number. Potts admitted on the DVD, “It was like wearing an industrial strength rubber band over my entire body. It looked really great but it was difficult to walk in. It was like a workout – like those rubber bands at the gym.” Costume designer Marilyn Vance said, “We powdered that dress and slipped her into it.”
Paramount wanted Jennifer Beals instead of Molly Ringwald. It’s crazy to think that a film written for Ringwald could be recast with someone else, but this is Hollywood we’re talking about. The studio was looking for someone “hotter.” “It’s a business and it’s about who’s gonna open the movie bigger and hotter. I told them I needed her and there was nobody better for it,” said Deutch. Ringwald’s decision to play Andie wasn’t an immediate one because she had heard she wasn’t the studio’s first choice.
Charlie Sheen was going to play Blane. Originally the part of the rich love interest was written with a hunky, square-jawed jock in mind. You know – like a “Jake Ryan” type. However, that’s not who Ringwald felt would be right for her. Sheen was close to getting the part, but McCarthy and Ringwald “had that connection together,” she said on the DVD. “He had this appeal to women that guys didn’t get.” McCarthy credited Ringwald for landing him the part. “I owe being in the whole movie to Molly.”
Robert Downey Jr. might have been Duckie. Then it would have really been a LESS THAN ZERO reunion. Ringwald stated on the DVD, “It was very different – the dynamic. It was completely different than I had with Jon Cryer. Robert played it very eccentrically. More adult. I don’t want to say sophisticated but it was definitely stranger. Duckie would have been a very strange kind of person. He was older also than Jon Cryer.”
Tracey Ullman was up for the part of Iona. Ringwald said, “The funny thing was her American accent wasn’t quite there at the time. I think the powers that be were afraid she wasn’t going to be authentic as an American.”
The rich kids clothes came off the rack from KMART. Vance confessed on DVD, “I ran around to all the cheaper stores at the time for the rich kids. All those ice cream colors and the shorts and the socks and the look. I did it for as cheaply as possible. They look fresh – that was their thing.”
Duckie’s white pointy punk rockabilly loafers were too small for his feet. Cryer divulged on the DVD, “We found two pairs at a resale store in L.A. and both of them were too small. So my feet would literally tear through them. In the scene at the record store where I’m doing the big dance number, there’s shots of me shuffling and I literally shuffled out of my shoes. The tips would just rip and have to be repaired after each take. And man it was painful.”
Blane and Andie’s first kiss is courtesy of DP Tak Fujimoto. Being a first time director presents its own set of challenges like how and where to stage certain integral scenes. It was director of photography Fujimoto’s suggestion that the pair be illuminated by Blane’s Beemer’s headlights. Deutch has thought it was a crazy idea but went for it anyways.
PRETTY IN PINK is one of Gina Gershon’s first roles. The actress had small parts in other films, however this was a major break for her, playing the gym class friend of one of Andie’s bullies.
The candy machine in the ladies room line was an ad-lib. I’ve seen this movie countless times, and not only do I always laugh at that line, but when I see a tampon/ feminine napkin dispenser in ladies rooms, Cryer’s ad-libbed line becomes my inner monologue.
PAPARAZZI’s director was the hair and make-up person. Hey, we’ve all gotta start somewhere. Before he became the director of films like PAPPARAZZI and (uncredited) PAYBACK (and episodes for a multitude of TV shows), Paul Abascal did hair and makeup, coming up with many of the volcanic looks in PRETTY IN PINK. His work on Potts alone is absolutely resplendent. He’s also done hair on many blockbusting action films, coiffing the glorious manes of Patrick Swayze, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis, before transitioning to directing.
The AD drew the graffiti drawings on Duckie’s bedroom wall. Stephen Lim was a cartoonist as well as an assistant director. He also worked with Scorsese on AFTER HOURS and Hughes on FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF.
Andrew McCarthy got bruised during the “what about prom” scene. Deutch spilled the details on the DVD, “When we first rehearsed it, Andrew got black and blue from all the times Molly hit him. Finally we had to put some padding under his shirt.”
There was a fight over Andie’s pink prom dress. Deutch said on the DVD, “I said to Marilyn, ‘This dress is ugly. It’s terrible. What are we gonna do?’ She said, ‘No, she had to make it herself. This is what somebody would look like if she made the dress herself.’ I said, ‘Yeah. Somebody with bad taste.’ We had a fight about it and Molly hated the dress. We all thought we’re going to end up re-shooting the dress because the dress doesn’t look good. But the people didn’t care. Now, I look at it and, it may not be the greatest dress in the world, but she did it herself. So I like it.”
H.B. Gilmour’s novelization has the original ending in it. In the original ending, both Andie and Duckie show up to the prom and dance together while everyone stood around to watch them dance in solidarity. It included a callback to a line Duckie says when he’s searching for a song on Andie’s car stereo. At the prom, before taking Andie’s hand he says, “I think I finally found a good tune… shall we?” Molly was very ill that day and the dance entailed a lot of spin. She got progressively sick to her stomach. They had to stop shooting. But at the test screening, audiences booed when Andie and Duckie wound up together, because they all wanted her to end up with yuppie Blane. Hughes hated the idea of Andie winding up with the rich kid, and took his time coming up with the alternate ending. Eventually he figured out if Blaine came to the prom alone, he could make it work.
Andrew McCarthy had to sport a wig at prom. Since they had wrapped long before deciding on re-shoots, McCarthy had shaved his head for a role in a play (“The Boys Of Winter”). He had also lost a significant amount of weight, so he also appeared gaunt.
The hand holding Molly Ringwald’s hand is the AD’s hand – not Jon Cryer’s. Because they were pressed for time during the re-shoots, they had to use assistant director Stephen Lim’s hand to hold Ringwald’s.
That giant black & white orchestra photo. If you, like me, have ever wondered about the story behind that artistic photo behind the DJ booth at the prom, this one’s for you! It was there because they couldn’t afford a giant 30 piece orchestra. Deutch fretted about this alternative creative choice, but Hughes thought the photo would be much cooler. Hughes was right.
Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me” was the temp piece for OMD’s “If You Leave.” Though the original script (with Duckie and Andie together at the prom) used David Bowie’s “Heroes,” the temp track (a temporary placeholder with same tonal spirit) was Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me,” before Deutch reached out to Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark. Deutch (on the DVD) had said to the group, “Write me something romantic.” OMD had come back with “Goddess of Love” first, only it didn’t fit quite right and was replaced with new track “If You Leave.”
PRETTY IN PINK is dedicated to Alexa Kenin and Bruce Weintraub. Both tragically died after completing their work on the film. Kenin, who played Andie’s best girl friend Jena, was found dead from unknown causes in her apartment. Weintraub, who was an Oscar award nominated set decorator, passed away three months after Kenin.
Molly Ringwald, Howard Deutch and John Hughes had been planning to work together again. On the DVD commentary, Deutch mentioned Hughes wrote a (still unmade) script called OIL AND VINEGAR, which he was planning to direct two years after PINK. But sadly, it was never meant to be. The reasons behind that decision were inexplicably not disclosed.
PRETTY IN PINK turns 30 on February 28, 2016.