“They Didn’t Break Me”: Remembering “Pretty In Pink”

It’s 30 years since teen classic Pretty In Pink was released. To mark the occasion, Top 10 Films‘ resident teen movie expert Neal Damiano caught up with the film at a celebratory 30th anniversary screening at the Connecticut Post IMAX theater.

Pretty In Pink, Top 10 Films, John Hughes,

“I just want to let them know that they didn’t break me” – these words will forever resonate with Generation X. The seminal 1980s classic Pretty In Pink returned to cinemas for a celebratory 30th anniversary screening and I took the chance to ride down nostalgia highway. As I sat in the theater waiting for the lights to go down and the opening credits to appear, a profound sense of sentimentality hit me hard; an emotion that is hard to describe. It was like visiting friends.

The story has universal appeal – social status, economic value, unrequited love; one of the reasons it is such a well-loved teen movie from the 1980s. Specifically, the film’s merits lie at the feet of John Hughes who had the ability to create characters that live long in the memory. Indeed, Pretty In Pink is, in many ways, an intellectual movie about teenage characters dealing with real problems, their vulnerability spread out on the screen like paint on a canvas.

Pretty in Pink, 30th Anniversary - Top 10 Films

Importantly, Molly Ringwald turns in an unforgettable role as Andie, a poor girl who exudes unflinching confidence along with a unique individuality that shines. And who can forget Duckie, played by Jon Cryer, the quintessential hipster before hipster was even a thing. His affection for Andie is quite endearing. Andrew McCarthy turns in a sincere performance as Blane, a rich boy with a heart of gold, and of course there’s the rich and cocky brat Stef, played by James Spader. Hughes films always have great characters but these four just seem to stick with you like old comforting friends.

Pretty In Pink is everything high school was – the rich kids, the poor kids, the cool kids, the geeks and the unrelenting feeling of wanting to fit in. But what Pretty In Pink did for teen angst is simple: the film showed us that you can find your place in the world and somehow make it through. As for Andie, no they did not break her and I don’t think they ever will.

Top 10 Films would like to extend a special thank you to the Connecticut Post IMAX theater for hosting us at the 30th anniversary screening of Pretty in Pink.

Words by Neal Damiano

See more from Neal Damiano: Top 10 Must See 1980s High School Comedy Movies & Top 10 Quintessential 1980s Films

About the Author
Neal Damiano calls himself “an unhip film geek” who mixes his passion for movies with an enthusiasm for travel, music and journalism.

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    CineGirl Reply

    Would love to have seen this on the big screen. I share your passion for it Neal. It’s more heartfelt and thoughtful than some of Hughes’ work; it’s still funny but it’s a character piece and features one of the better female teen characters from the 80s.

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    Roger That Reply

    This and Some Kind of Wonderful are two of the finest films ever created by John Hughes and he didn’t direct either of them. Was he a better writer than a director?

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    I personally think he was a better writer. But I like his directing too.
    I agree Pretty In Pink is some of his best writing!

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    Dan Grant Reply

    There are periods in my life when I think Pretty In Pink is Hughes’ best film. Then of course there are days when I feel Ferris, Breakfast Club and Planes Trains are his best movie…..he was so versatile, such a genius and PIP is such a triumph in every way.

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    Jane Douglas-Jones Reply

    I re watched Pretty In Pink myself last week. What a classic movie. Used to have it on hard VCR rotation!

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    Adam Reply

    I hope they have some 30th anniversary screenings in England

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    Callum Reply

    I’ve only seen Pretty in Pink once and it was years ago. Can’t really remember much about it apart from Molly Ringwald being poor and making her own dress. I’ll have to give it another watch as it didn’t stick in the memory in the same way as Breakfast Club or Ferris or Planes, Trains did.

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      Neal Damiano Reply

      Wow, that’s a first I’ve heard anyone say. Most of the people I’ve talked with can’t get these characters out of their collective memory.

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        Callum Reply

        Yeah, it just didn’t resonate like Breakfast Club but I’m not a fan of Spader or McCarthy which didn’t help.

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    I am very proud of this piece!!

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    ArchE Reply

    Doffs hat in the general director of Neal. Again, with hearty and nuanced enthusiasm you shine a proverbial torch on the work of John Hughes with real passion. I applaud your appreciation of the man – and your wider love of teen movies in the 1980s – even if I don’t share it. Pretty in Pink, like The Breakfast Club, is a “nice” film about teenage angst which I think probably improves upon Club thanks to its acknowledgement of a rich/poor division.

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    Dan Reply

    Pretty In Pink is a great time capsule with enduring qualities but I think that’s something you can apply to all John Hughes’ work in the teen drama category. Love the film’s soundtrack too (it definitely plays its part in elevating the film).

    While people remember Molly Ringwald’s character, for me, it’s Duckie that stands out. Jon Cryer’s performance is one thing but the character Hughes created is sort of Ferris Bueller without the popularity and the hot girlfriend. His plight – underpinned by his devoted love for Andie – is so recognisable (for males or females, I think) even if he is a bit extreme at times. But then again the film wouldn’t have such classic moments without his craziness (the lip-sync dance in the music store being one of my favourite moments).

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    Breakfast Club is a much more popular film the 30th tribute piece I wrote faired more comments.
    I’m still very proud of this piece!

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      CineGirl Reply

      You should be. Good article Neal.

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        Neal Damiano Reply

        Thank you very much, CineGirl. I appreciate your enthusiasm for my writing over the years, it’s quite the muse!

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    Dan Reply

    I think Hughes helped define the 80s. Most of his movies are classics and as Dan Stephens mentioned, Duckie absolutely makes this film. The rest of it is terrific as well but Duckie is someone we can relate to. Maybe not his crazy antics but certainly his love and devotion to Andie.

    Great job Neal!

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    Dan Grant, thanks for the kind words, I know your love of 80s teen films!!
    Some guys do get the hot girl. But for us guys looking for something more Duckie was our leader!

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    Dan Grant Reply

    I’m sure you know this Neal, but Andie and Duckie were supposed to end up together. But when they screened it, the test audience didn’t like it and wanted Blaine and Andie together. It was reshot with the ending we have today. The reshoot was so far down the road that McCarthy was already filming another movie and had to wear a wig as he was bald for the role. He also lost a bit of weight and apparently his face looks different in the final scenes of PiP.

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    @ DanGrant
    Yes, at the 30th Anniversary screening afterwards they screened a documentary stating this, but I already knew and I think they made the right choice. It just seems to fit to have her end up with Blane. The ending (IMO) was excellent.

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