It has been 30 years since the release of John Hughes’ iconic coming-of-age film Pretty in Pink. It has become a classic tale in part because of its heavy nostalgia and quotable lines, but also for its honesty in portraying life as a teen in the 1980s. In honor of the anniversary, original MTV VJs and 80s on 8 hosts Martha Quinn and Alan Hunter share their favorite things about the film as well as memories of its release from the first days of MTV. So what makes Pretty in Pink so great?
The Plot (and plot twists)
Like most John Hughe’s movies, Pretty In Pink has heart and a relatable story line.
“The film gives us star-crossed lovers from opposite sides of the track (Molly Ringwald as Andie and Andrew McCarthy as Blane), unrequited love on the part of a platonic-yet-wishes-he-wasn’t pal (Jon Cryer as Duckie) a ne’er-do-well dad (Harry Dean Stanton), plus a super slick, condescending hottie (James Spader as Steff).” – Martha Quinn
The characters are truly what made this movie stand out. Andie, Duckie and Blane would go on to be defining roles for Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, James Spader and Andrew McCarthy and they were the type of characters you wanted to root for.
“Molly Ringwald was incredibly cute and appealing. She was great in Sixteen Candles and Breakfast Club but really shone in the movie. Who didn’t have a crush on her? (Notwithstanding how young she was).” – Alan Hunter
Although the film is a feel-good tale, it had grit.
“Adding just the right amount of tart to this sweet love story is Hughes’ side plot of Andie’s directionless dad, never able to get it together after his wife, Andie’s mom, abandons them. This gives Molly Ringwald some real moments to bite into. ‘She just didn’t love us back!’ is a dead-on heart-wrencher that I don’t think anyone can forget.” – Martha Quinn
Kids from the ‘80s grew up alongside the film.
“The movie helped the audience graduate to a new level of maturity. Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles were more innocent, but in Pretty In Pink, Molly was beginning to grow up. I think she and McCarthy were using tongue on those kissing scenes. The audience was ready to approach adulthood via these characters.” – Alan Hunter
If you are looking for a crash course in effective costume design, look no further.
“I’ve got to give a shout-out to Marilyn Vance, who did the clothes for the movie. The festooned fedoras, the Miami Vice suits, the shoulder pads, the thrift-store vintage looks we loved in the ‘80s, it’s a precise time-capsule every costume designer should consult when making a movie about the MTV decade. But the film’s wardrobe piece de resistance? The prom dress that Andie furiously pieced together herself. It’s funny by today’s standards—it’s quite shapeless, not exactly figure flattering—but to us then it was a vision, leaving us gazing with breathless wonder at Molly Ringwald. Isn’t she … pretty in pink?” – Martha Quinn
The Iconic Scenes
Let’s be honest, the best scenes are driven by Duckie.
“The scene where Duckie’s in the record store giving Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness an inspired lip-syncing performance? That’ll put a smile on your face no matter who or how old you are. It’s pure iconic.” – Martha Quin
The music from the film is the ‘80s in a nutshell. Arguably no other film from that decade has as strong and as iconic of a soundtrack (save for maybe Purple Rain).
“It’s almost impossible for me to separate the movie experience from the soundtrack. Whenever I come across the phrase “pretty in pink,” I hear Richard Butler’s longing yet dangerously languid ‘isn’t she …’ reminding me why good girls fall for bad boys. John Hughes and director Howard Deutch (who married Lea Thompson aka Marty McFly’s mom for some major ‘80s cred) also brought in the Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, Nik Kershaw, Suzanne Vega, and INXS along with Psychedelic Furs and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark—all artists who musically channel the disenfranchised experience. These songs are emotionally raw and urgent like teenage angst itself.” – Martha Quinn
“The soundtrack was like a greatest hits package for New Wave ‘80s. Psychedelic Furs released the titular song five years before the film but re-recorded it for soundtrack. Molly Ringwald loved the band and the song and played it for John Hughes. I was a huge fan of the band from the start—1981. It was my first band interview on MTV. I thought Richard Butler had one of the most unique voices around—that mix of Sex Pistols snarl and the accessibility of Duran Duran pop.” – Alan Hunter
The Movie Premiere
Talk about an unforgettable evening for Alan Hunter!
“The premiere party at the Palace in Hollywood was loads of fun. MTV had become the epicenter for releasing ‘80s movies with music soundtracks (or Peewee Herman movies). Fee Waybill of the Tubes and I hosted the event. The opening sequence had Fee and I discussing the merits of wearing pink underwear to get into the mood of the proceedings. Loads of celebrities like Justine Bateman, Michael Keaton and Michael J. Fox were present along with the film’s stars. In addition to them, I interviewed Jon Anderson (Yes) and Andy Summers (Police) who seemed somewhat confused about being there. I remember Annie Potts and Jon Cryer talking about nerds ruling the world someday. Everyone was delightful. I had fun talking with John Hughes about how he loved doing movies about teens because he had such vivid recall of that time in his life.”
For a free 30-day trial, check out http://www.siriusxm.com/freeTrial.
Music, Sports, News and more
All in one place on the SiriusXM app