The Breakfast Club (1985)

1h 37m / R / Comedy

Writer/director John Hughes sold the screenplay for what would be his debut feature, Sixteen Candles, for a million dollars. And then, as it so often does, nothing happened. But after a couple years and the success of National Lampoon’s Vacation (his script), it was put back into pre-production. Hughes apparently thought he was still in a probationary period in the Hollywood system, and Sixteen Candles had a better chance at making a ton of money than The Breakfast Club did. History proved the oracle of ‘80s teens both right and wrong: Sixteen Candles quadrupled its $6.5 million budget. But The Breakfast Club earned fifty times what it cost to make.

To contemplate the error of their ways, a small group of five stereotypical high school students is sentenced to spend their whole Saturday in detention. For the following long nine hours, a quintet of perfect strangers — wrestling jock Andrew (Emilio Estevez), pampered daddy’s girl Claire (Molly Ringwald), oddball loner Allison (Ally Sheedy); brainy and awkward Brian (Anthony Michael Hall); and John Bender (Judd Nelson), a rebel and a troublemaker — will have to stay put and write an essay of no less than a thousand words describing who they think they are. Now, as the quiet library of Shermer High School becomes a prison, the five students with nothing in common have no other choice but to wait — and in being forced together, perhaps to learn to look beyond the surface. It’s the movie that made the Brat Pack. And its story of empathy and human connection still matters today.

The Summer Classics Movie Series has been presented by Bank of America since 2015. Promotional support for the series is provided by WEDU-PBS.