Dirk’s Five: Bueller? Bueller? Anybody? Anybody?

When John Hughes passed away in 2009, we screened FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF by way of a tribute, at one of our monthly Dirk Nights.

Dom-Dirk is not a fan. I love it, but my affection is probably something to do with my age, as I was at the right demographic to enjoy PRETTY IN PINK (1986) and SIXTEEN CANDLES (1984) on their release. I had a bit of a crush on Molly Ringwald (America’s answer to Claire Grogan) too. When I first started work, I was part of a team of people who named ourselves THE BREAKFAST CLUB(1985), because being in early always seemed like detention. I also had a love-lorn friend who would play SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL (1987) on a VHS loop until late into the night.

I love his comedies and fought to include PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (1987) in the first-ever Projection Room film season (not much of a fight to be honest, it was cheap).

But, Ferris, Ferris is a righteous dude …

Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?

1961 Ferrari 250GT California

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Has there been a better use of John Williams’ music for STAR WARS? Not even George Lucas can match the moment when the valet-parking attendant launches this ultimate, classic sports car over a bump in sheer exuberance.

The brilliant-red car is a fetish object (can you hear Yello’s ‘Oh Yeah’ without thinking about it?) throughout the movie. There were only 100 cars of that model made, so you don’t need to be a car lover to cringe every time Cameron takes a blow at the bumper. Its a symbol of his relationship with his father and the source of his anxieties (the registration plate is NRVOUS). When it reverses through the plate window to crash at the bottom of a ditch, its not just its rarity that makes you bite your knuckle, its the realisation that things are never going to be the same again.

“Pucker up buttercup”

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

“This is George Peterson!” Cameron takes on the role of Sloane Peterson’s dad to get her out of school to join Ferris on his day off. He says that she needs to attend the funeral of her grandmother. Principle Rooney thinks it’s Ferris so lets rip:

Uh, yeah, sure, no I’d be happy to, yeah you, uh, you you just produce a corpse, and uh, I’ll release Sloane. I wanna see this dead grandmother first hand.

The timing of Jeffrey Jones’ reaction when his secretary tells him that Ferris is on line 2 is comic genius.

As is his reaction when he sees Sloane apparently smooching with her ‘father’: “So THAT’s how it is in their family.”

Ferris’ Bedroom

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I want one of those machines that you put a floppy disc in and it makes sick noises. He has the best graphic equaliser I’ve ever seen in a movie (not sure that its quite optimised for the acoustics of his room). It’s real pleasure to pause the image and study the posters on his wall too.

The contraption he creates is a fore-runner of Kevin’s devices in HOME ALONE, except they don’t actually look physically possible; his patent roll-a-dummy pulley looks like it would work.

Art Institute of Chicago

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I love the moment when they move through the museum in a link with the children, it is such innocent fun and joyous. The scene in the gallery offers a moment of calm meditation in the middle of the city. Chicago features heavily in the film with lurid, bright colours captured by cinematographer Tak Fujimoto (best known for his work on BADLANDS(1973))

The Dream Academy’s cover version of The Smiths’ Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want plays over a steady slide-show of Hopper, Kandinsky, Picasso, Giacometti, Pollock and Mattisse. Most notably Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

Its at this point you realise that there is something to Ferris’ mantra. Stop and look once in a while. This great art could pass you by.

I yell “RAT!”

The Parade

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I know that its a much loved scene, but after the time in the gallery I think this is wrong note in the film. The action transforms into the stuff of musicals with Ferris leading the crowd in a rendition of Twist and Shout. It seems oddly out of place and its the only moment that suddenly dates the film.

The parade scene in EASY RIDER (1969) has a similar effect of unbalancing things: they don’t look like they are part of what’s going on.

He should stick to singing in the shower.

This previously appeared as part of Cinema Parrot Disco’s John Hughes Blogathon.

3 responses to “Dirk’s Five: Bueller? Bueller? Anybody? Anybody?

  1. Such a great film, but maybe you needed to grow up in the 1980s to really enjoy it. Alan Ruck as Ferris’ friend Cameron must be the oldest “teenager” in film history. Wasn’t he almost 30 when he played the role?

  2. I ‘grew up’ in The Seventies (In the Sinai Desert), but I loved Ferris B. when I saw it. I was still young enough to relate.
    But…

    “The parade scene in EASY RIDER (1969) has a similar effect of unbalancing things: they don’t look like they are part of what’s going on.”

    Is a film I have been studying for some time. THAT one, I could most definitely relate to.

    Great post and thanks for the memories.

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