I was saddened to discover last night, when I got home from work and checked the New York Times online, that director John Hughes had died.
I was not a fan of all of his work-- I found a lot of it formulaic and overly saccharine. But I did have a soft spot in my heart for a couple of his movies, for various reasons.
Earlier this year, when my son and I visited my parents, who now live in Tennessee, my son and my father had a great time watching Ferris Buehler's Day Off, a movie they both love. I suspect a lot of the reason they love it is the Chicago landmarks in the movie. Both my dad and my son are Chicago guys through and through.
My favorite John Hughes movie is Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The performances of the two co-stars are picture perfect; Steve Martin as the tightass executive trying to get home for Thanksgiving, and the late John Candy as the sometimes socially inept, but bighearted salesman.
The movie also provided me with a little moment of magic. About ten years ago, I was just out of teacher school and working as a sub in the Evanston school system, hoping to score a permanent job there. My wife at the time, Cynthia, worked as a first grade teacher in one of Evanston's schools, and had gotten her start there as a sub. Since my knowledge of Evanston's geography was limited, Cynthia would provide me with directions each time I was going to a school I hadn't been before.
One day, I got my morning call to go to Orrington School, which is in north Evanston, near the border of Winnetka. As I followed the directions my wife had given me, I came upon a "T" intersection. I turned left, and realized that though I had never been in this area in my life, I knew the house I had just passed. I puzzled about it for a few hours, then it dawned on me-- I had passed the house that Steve Martin's fictional character from "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" lived in, where the poignant ending occurred.