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Throwback Thursday: ‘Pretty in Pink’ Takes Us to Prom

The John Hughes’ classic Pretty in Pink turned 30 this week. Released on Feb. 28, 1986 and named after the 1981 song by The Psychedelic Furs, Pretty in Pink followed its Brat Pack predecessors, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, into the drama-filled halls of high school.

Hughes muse Molly Ringwald is Andie, a spirited working-class girl that falls for rich and sensitive preppie Blane (Andrew McCarthy). Completing the love triangle is quirky and comedic Duckie (Jon Cryer) who has an unrequited crush on Andie but has been firmly friend-zoned. The movie went on to critical and commercial success and was a launching pad for several actors: Harry Dean Stanton, Gina Gershon, Kristy Swanson, Andrew Dice Clay, and James Spader, in all his unbuttoned Oxford shirt and feathered hair glory. And while Cryer went on to star in, count them, 12 seasons of Two and a Half Men, he’ll always be Duckie to us.

Pretty in Pink dance

The film’s music deserves a spotlight of its own, from the decade defining new wave tunes to Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness,” forever tied to Duckie’s lip sync and dance routine in a record store. Widely regarded as one of the best of all time, the soundtrack includes OMD’s iconic “If You Leave,” written in a day for a new film ending when the original version — Andie and Duckie end up (platonically) together — screened poorly with test audiences.

Although its ’80s big hair and fashion — shoulder pads, florals, derby hats, that now-iconic prom dress and so, so much pink — haven’t quite stood the test of the time, the film and its heart have. The tale of outsiders, underdogs, and mean girls still resonates three decades later and reminds us all of the perils of being a teenager: the awkwardness of trying to fit in, high school crushes, and the big deal that is prom. And no, that’s still not a candy machine in the girls’ bathroom.


Elsewhere in March 1986

Out of Africa wins Best Picture. The epic drama, based loosely on an autobiographical book, starred Meryl Streep as a rich and married aristocrat who moves to Africa and falls for a big-game hunter (Robert Redford). Despite mixed reviews from critics, the film picked up seven statues at the 58th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography.

Remington Steele Becomes Bond (Briefly). The rom-com/drama/detective procedural hybrid that launched Pierce Brosnan’s career was briefly canceled after its fourth season, and Brosnan was then offered the role of James Bond in The Living Daylights. After an outpouring of fan support, NBC reversed its decision and announced the show’s mid-season return, and Brosnan lost the Bond role to Timothy Dalton (though he would later become 007 in the 1995 GoldenEye).


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