The Breakfast Club

Most schools are going back in session this week, with some even starting today. In that spirit, here is another entry to the Back to School series. We will talk about the greatest school movie of the ’80s, and maybe of all time – The Breakfast Club:

In 8 hours and 54 minutes, students from different high school social groups, struggled then bonded with each other, as they spent a Saturday in detention together. Did schools really have detentions on Saturdays?
Anyway, the five students at fictional Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois were to spend their detention in the school library and ordered not to speak or move from their seats by the antagonistic principal, Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason). He assigns a 1,000 word essay in which each student must write about who he or she thinks he or she is.

The students were:
John Bender (Judd Nelson) – The Rebel
Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald) – The Snob
Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez) – The Jock
Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall) – The Geek
Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy) – The Outcast

Bender stirred up trouble with the other students, but managed to get them to open up about themselves. Brian and Andrew had a lot of pressure on them to be a great student and athlete, respectively. And Bender was abused by his father, with a cigar burn to prove it.

They were in detention for the following reasons:

Andrew taped a students buttocks together
Claire ditched class to go to the mall
Brian brought a flare gun to school and it went off in his locker
Bender pulled the fire alarm
and the best one:
Allison had nothing better to do

John Hughes wrote this great movie in just 2 days. He also had a cameo as he played Brian’s father.

And who could forget the great song for the movie – “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds? You can’t think of this song without thinking of the movie and vice versa.

Here are some other facts about the movie:
Emilio Estevez was originally going to play Bender, but Hughes couldn’t find someone to play Andrew Clark so Emilio agreed to play Clark.

Molly Ringwald really wanted to play Allison but Ally Sheedy had already been promised the part.

Nicolas Cage was originally considered for the role of John Bender but the production couldn’t afford his salary at the time. John Cusack was originally cast as John Bender, but John Hughes decided to replace him with Judd Nelson before shooting began.

The scene in which all characters sit in a circle on the floor in the library and tell stories about why they were in detention was not scripted. John Hughes told them all to ad-lib.

Other proposed titles were “The Lunch Bunch” and “Library Revolution”.

The switchblade used in the movie actually belonged to Judd Nelson. He explained that he had it for protection purposes.

At the time of shooting, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall were the only Breakfast Club members of high school age, both being 17. Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy both were 23, and Judd Nelson was 26.

Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, and Ally Sheedy played high school students in this film, the same year that they would portray college graduates in St. Elmo’s Fire (1985).

And here are some quotes from the movie:

[Claire is doing Allison’s make-up.]
Claire: You know, you look a lot better without all that black shit under your eyes.
Allison: Hey, I like all that black shit… Why are you being so nice to me?
Claire: Because you’re letting me.


Allison Reynolds: Your middle name is Ralph, as in puke, your birthdate’s March 12th, you’re 5’9 and a half, you weigh 130 pounds and your social security number is 049380913.
Andrew Clark: Wow! Are you psychic?
Allison Reynolds: No.
Brian Johnson: Well, would you mind telling me how you know all this about me?
Allison Reynolds: I stole your wallet.


John Bender (to the principal): Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?


Bender: I just wanna know how one becomes a janitor because Andrew here is very interested in pursuing a career in the custodial arts.


John Bender: Brian, this is a very nutritious lunch. All the food groups are represented. Did your mom marry Mr. Rogers?
Brian Johnson: Uh, no. Mr. Johnson.


Andrew Clark: You don’t have any goals.
John Bender: Oh but I do.
Andrew Clark: Yeah?
John Bender: I wanna be just like you. I figure all I need, is a lobotomy and some tights.
Brian Johnson: You wear tights?
Andrew Clark: No I don’t wear tights. I wear the required uniform.
Brian Johnson: Tights.
Andrew Clark: Shut up.


John Bender: Sporto.
Andrew Clark: What?
John Bender: You get along with your parents?
Andrew Clark: Well, if I say yes I’m an idiot, right?
John Bender: You’re an idiot anyway. But if you say you get along with your parents, well, you’re a liar too.


Brian Johnson: Dear Mr. Vernon: We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it is we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy for making us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club.

So, what social group were you in. This is anonymous, so don’t be shy!
You can even be in more than one.

Did you have any favorite parts of the movie that you would like to bring up? Let us know.

4 thoughts on “The Breakfast Club”

  1. I agree! And what’s amazing is that it takes place in a limited space, with only a few characters. It was very emotional, and it was very funny.
    Also, that’s a very awesome article you have too!

    1. It was almost like a play in places. It’s not easy to make a single location movie work that way. And written in one weekend! Brilliant.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Here’s another fun-fact about this film:

    Regarding the theme song, Don’t You Forget About Me. I recall seeing once somewhere (I think it may have been on one of those VH1 80’s retrospectives), where the lead singer talked about how they didn’t have time to finish writing the song. I forget the exact details why, but at some point the studio just insisted that the song be recorded and sent to them NOW, but the band hadn’t finished writing it, and couldn’t think of a final verse in the time remaining. That’s why in the end of the song he just starts singing “la, la la la la, la la la la…” because they ran out of words!

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