Or so said Jeffrey Jones, who appeared this weekend as part of a group of John Hughes collaborators that gathered at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles to celebrate the work of the late writer/director in between a double bill of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” Sitting next to “Bueller” co-stars Edie McClurg (Grace, the secretary) and Cindy Pickett’s (Ferris’ mom) after the screening, Jones seemed to lament a planned sequel that he believed would’ve been set in Hawaii had Matthew Broderick wanted to reprise his most famous role, but Broderick wasn’t interested in saving “Ferris” a second time around. (And Jones inferred this was long before a non-Hughes draft was rumored to have made the rounds in Hollywood a few years ago.)
It was only one of the many revelations that emerged from a Q & A populated by an audience of die-hard “Ferris” fans. (When the New Beverly’s Julia Marchese introduced the screening and asked if anyone hadn’t seen the film, a twenty-something in the front sheepishly got up, egged on by his friends, and hid behind shades and a hat.) For the already initiated, it only took a flick of the wrist from Ferris’ dad Lyman Ward, referencing his particularly expressive hand movements in the film, to elicit laughs during his introduction. When he confirmed that crafty editing by Paul Hirsch, who was also in attendance, had eliminated Ferris and Jeanie Bueller’s younger siblings, there were audible gasps — Ward told the audience to look at scenes in the kitchen where the Crayola drawings on the fridge are the only evidence that they actually existed.
Like Molly Ringwald’s tribute to Hughes in the New York Times, the memories of him were warm, but tinged with mischief and a mercurial nature. Jones recalled that Hughes made him wait hours to audition for Principal Ed Rooney, and after Hughes finally called him into his office, Jones stayed silent until Hughes said, “Are you going to say something?” To which Jones tersely replied, “Let’s start by you apologizing for being late,” before adding, “I think that got me the part.” Pickett suggested that there was a method to the madness, telling a story about how she believed Hughes purposefully sabotaged her audition (the scene where she’s on the phone) to see her reaction. Jones also recounted a story he also shared with Entertainment Weekly of riding around in a Lincoln Town Car with Hughes, Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara and Alan Ruck and immediately pulling over to a record store when they were driving around Highland Park, Ill. and Jones hit upon Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen” while discussing what songs to use for “Ferris”‘ parade scene.
Hughes’ ability to write screenplays was nearly as quick and decisive, according to producer Tom Jacobson, who remembered how when the writer/director was asked for a rewrite for “Some Kind of Wonderful,” he turned around the first 50 pages of “Ferris” a day later. (Paul Hirsch remembered that the first 60 pages of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” were finished in close to six hours.) Jacobson also mentioned the unusual detail that Hughes died 50 years to the day of the death of one of his filmmaking influences, Preston Sturges, a connection that was recently explored in detail by Yakov Freedman on Movie Morlocks. Although some cineastes would dispute that analogy, there was no denying that over 20 years later, Hughes’ work still held sway over the New Beverly crowd and there’s no doubt there are still many tribute screenings in the days, months and years ahead — Marchese admitted as much when she said the theater couldn’t get a print of “Uncle Buck” because it was unavailable.
[Photo: Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, and Matthew Broderick in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” Paramount, 1986]