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Some Kind of Wonderful: An Appreciation of the John Hughes film
'All Kinds of Wonderful.....'
Being an unashamed child of the 80's, I grew up loving John Hughes films. Have the lot. I especially love the high school series of films he did, and of those Some Kind of Wonderful is probably the least well known. We all know Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club I'm guessing (if not, where the heck have YOU been), quite a few know Sixteen Candles, but this one gets lost in the shuffle. I'll be upfront. Its not the best film you'll ever see, its not groundbreaking, and it could have done with John Hughes directing as well as writing/ producing...but, it has charm, it has character and I just like it.
So if some 80's teen nostalgia is your thing, or you are just a teensy bit curious, come on in...(leather jackets and denim optional)
(Image Copyright to Paramount Pictures; Hughes Entertainment; and other respective production studios and distributors)
These are definitely... - ...some kind of wonderful!
Some Kind of Wonderful was released in 1987, and was the last of the John Hughes 'teen' cycle of movies. It had quite a lot of early production problems, starting with Molly Ringwalds decision to not accept the role of Amanda Jones; As with the previous 'teen' Hughes films (Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club) Hughes had written the role specifically for her, and was deeply upset when she passed on the role. They didn't speak for many years after because of what Hughes perceived as a betrayal. No such troubles with Eric Stoltz, who the role of Keith was also specifically written for.
Kim Delaney ( then a popular tv soap star)was then given the role of Amanda Jones, with Martha Coolidge directing. Four days before production was due to begin, Coolidge was 'released' by Paramount and replaced by Howard Deutch (the director of Pretty in Pink, with whom Hughes had previously fallen out with and had now reconciled)
Coolidge had already by this point had scouted out all filming locations, had the sets decorated, the scenes were all storyboarded, and main cast hired, and Deutch just ended up going with what had already been prepared. He did, though, ditch Kim Delaney for Lea Thompson (on Stoltz's recommendation), and replaced Kyle MacLachlan with Craig Sheffer.
So a lot of what you see was prepped by Coolidge, who should have received a credit of some sort I'd think. There's a nice interview with her here where she discusses being let go by Paramount and Hughes
Some Kind of Wonderful Opening
As with Pretty in Pink, the film was named after a song title.The song was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and first recorded by the Drifters in 1961.
Boy Meets Girl...and Girl. A love story, John Hughes style.
Some Kind of Wonderful, I suspect, began life as John Hughes's attempt to 'correct' the ending of Pretty in Pink, when Howard Deutch ( directing John Hughes's script) had Molly Ringwalds character go off with Andrew McCarthy's rich boy Blane, rather than Jon Cryer's working class Ducky. The two men fell out over this, and didn't speak for some time. In Some Kind of Wonderful, we have the same basic plot, but the roles have been reversed, with 2 girls vying for the affections of Eric Stoltz's Keith - one rich, one poor.
As with all Hughes films,it is set against the strict social hierarchy of the American public high school. Watts , played by Mary Stuart Masterson, has always considered working class Keith, played by Eric Stoltz, her best friend. But when Keith asks out the most popular girl in school, Amanda Jones, played by Lea Thompson, Watts realizes she has deeper feelings for him. Meanwhile, Hardy Jenns, played by Craig Sheffer, Amanda's ex-boyfriend from one of the richest families in town, plans to get Keith; though he no longer is in love with Amanda, he feels embarrassed and humiliated at losing her to a social 'inferior'. However, Keith ultimately manages to give Hardy his well-deserved comeuppance. In the end, Amanda decides that she wants time alone, and Keith (finally!) realises Watts is in love with him. In the best romantic tradition, he realises that he loves her too, and gives her the diamond earrings he had blown all his money on,and that he had originally bought for Amanda. They don't quite walk off into the sunset, but down a suburban street lit by streetlights. All very John Hughes.
Fancy reading the original shooting script? you're in luck...click below
Some Kind of Wonderful original script
My Personal Review
This is a sadly overlooked film in the John Hughes catalogue. If anything, its actually a superior film to Pretty in Pink, its stars as charismatic, and its dialogue at times sparkles. Although on the surface it is just about an average kid deciding between the rich girl and the poor girl, underneath the surface it again has a lot to say about the American class structure and how high school is a microcosm of it.
It is an important film as well, in that it was John Hughes's swan song in the 'teen drama' field, and was the last time he would offer a role to then-hot Molly Ringwald.
It is a film of its day, but the soundtrack is still cool, and the themes are unversal, as relevant now as then.
'Not quite walking off into the sunset...but close enough'
The film has a strong Rolling Stones connection - Amanda Jones is a Stones song, and the characters Watts (after Charlie Watts) and Keith (after Keith Richards) are deliberately named so.
As with most John Hughes films, there is a good soundtrack. John Hughes always recognised that music was an essential, organic part of the film, and often personally chose tracks himself; he had a personal affection for British indie bands, which is why so many ended up with tracks on his soundtracks, often their first exposure to U.S audiences.
This soundtrack actually had more unknown artists than most, but the music chosen always is perfect for the scene in the film in which it appears,
1."Do Anything" -Pete Shelley
2."Brilliant Mind" -The Furniture
3."Cry Like This" -Blue Room
4."I Go Crazy" -Flesh for Lulu
5."She Loves Me" -Stephen Duffy
6."The Hardest Walk" -The Jesus and Mary Chain
7."The Shyest Time" -The Apartments
8."Miss Amanda Jones" -The March Violets
9."Can't Help Falling in Love" -Lick the Tins
10."Turn to the Sky" -The March Violets
there's a nice quick review here
For other reviewers opinions of the film, and of the soundtrack, click on any of my Amazon links.
Some Kindof Wonderful Trailer
Lea Thompson (Amanda Jones) was hired partly on the recommendation of Eric Stoltz, who had previously been involved with her romantically. During filming, she started dating Howard Deutch, the director. They married soon after.
What Happened Next.....?
Some Kind of Wonderful was released in March 1987, taking $18 million; no Hughes movie had performed so poorly for several years. The film did not recoup Paramounts investment , and would need years of video sales and tv showings to break even, and earn a small profit . This film effectively ended Hughes' reign as the king of the teen genre, although it may have been the genre bubble was bursting anyway.
Paramount forced John Hughes to fast track his next 'adult' movie Planes Trains & Automobiles to meet their strict release date. Way overbudget and overschedule, Hughes gave Paramount their film on time, but it cost them a fortune. Planes Trains & Automobiles was a huge hit however, as were most of John Hughes later films, although he later went a little too populist for me..
All the principal actors have gone on on to have decent film, and then tv, careers, in front of and behind the camera.