30 Things You Might Not Know About Pretty in Pink, 30 Years Later
The John Hughes classic first hit theaters on Feb. 28, 1986
Pretty in Pink isn’t just a good ’80s movie. It isn’t just a good teen movie. And it isn’t just a good romantic movie. It’s just a good movie, period. The John Hughes classic first hit theaters on Feb. 28, 1986, and it turns 30 years old this weekend.
The film featured Molly Ringwald as Andie, a high school student whose style belies her working class roots. She’s captured the eye of seemingly every guy in school – among them, preppy dreamboat Blane (Andrew McCarthy) and her little hipster buddy, Duckie (Jon Cryer). And the process of Ringwald’s character trying to figure out some very grown-up feelings made for one of the better coming of age stories ever to light up a movie screen.
People have loved this John Hughes classic for 30 years, but we’re willing to bet that even superfans might not know everything there is to Pretty in Pink. So let’s celebrate the film’s big 3-0 with that most hallowed of pop culture offerings: a listicle.
1. It’s one of those cult films that was a success from the get-go
With a lot of films that gain obsessive followings, they start small and grow big long after they’ve ended their theatrical run. This is not the case with Pretty in Pink, which made $40 million on a comparatively teensy $9 million budget. But more than that, it was also well-reviewed. Even today, it holds a 79 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (But don’t tell that to our PEOPLE critic, who gave it a less-than-glowing review upon its release. Whoops!)
2. The role of Andie was written specifically for Molly Ringwald
Pretty in Pink was Ringwald’s third collaboration with John Hughes, following Sixteen Candles in 1984 and The Breakfast Club in 1985. Though Hughes didn’t direct Pretty – it was helmed instead by Howard Deutch, who also directed Some Kind of Wonderful – he’d spent enough time with Ringwald that he knew she was the only choice to play the part. Ringwald, however, didn’t initially accept the role, and allegedly among the actresses considered to play Andie in her stead were Tatum O’Neal, Lori Loughlin, Diane Lane, Sarah Jessica Parker and Brooke Shields.
3. Jon Cryer was not the first choice to play Duckie, however
Fresh off his turn as the super brain in The Breakfast Club, which was released one year earlier, Anthony Michael Hall was worried about being typecast and turned down the role of Duckie even though it was written specifically for him. Hall says he also turned down the lead role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which Hughes had also written for him.
4. And the role of Iona could have been played by Anjelica Huston
Allegedly Huston was offered the part of Andie’s cool girl mentor, but opted not to take it. In the end, Hughes decided the part should go to Annie Potts, whom he enjoyed as Janine in Ghostbusters.
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5. James Spader relished playing the bad guy
Spader played Steff, boyfriend to stuck-up Benny (Kate Vernon). During an interview at the MTV premiere of Pretty in Pink, Spader gets asked if he likes playing a villain. “It’s always fun playing the bad guy,” he admits. And this has held true of his career ever since.
6. Sci-fi fans might recognize Benny
Though Kate Vernon has acted steadily since Pretty in Pink, there’s one role that might surprise some readers: She also played deep space sexpot Ellen Tigh on Battlestar Galactica. Vernon, by the way, is the daughter of actor John Vernon, who played the dean in Animal House, which was also written by Hughes.
7. And you might also recognize Benny’s dark-haired friend
8. Kristy Swanson’s character had a name
The foxy blonde making eyes with Duckie at the end of the film? She’s listed in the credits as “Duckette.”
9. It was one of the final films of Alexa Kenin
Kenin played Jenna, Andie’s gym buddie, but Kenin didn’t live to see the film’s release. The actress was found dead in her Manhattan apartment on Sept. 10, 1985. No cause of death was ever publicly released, and her New York Times obituary simply states that “the cause of death was not immediately known.”
10. There’s a Yo Gabba Gabba connection
The would-be shoplifter whom Iona nails in the face with a staple gun is Christian Jacobs, a man familiar to some as the lead singer of the Aquabats and to others as the creator of the kids show Yo Gabba Gabba.
11. There’s a Zappa family connection as well
The film features Dweezil Zappa in a bit role – his first ever in a feature film. According to a 1986 PEOPLE article, Zappa was Ringwald’s boyfriend at the time, and they were introduced by his sister, Moon Unit. Ringwald’s rationale for their relationship, per the article: “I respect him and he’s really gorgeous.”
12. Yes, in fact, the movie is named after the Psychedelic Furs song
A modest hit in both the U.S. and the U.K., the song “Pretty in Pink” came out in 1980.
13. But the soundtrack version of the song is different than the original
The Psychedelic Furs actually re-recorded the track for the movie soundtrack, and the new version features saxophones more prominently. You can hear the difference in the opening riffs of the song.
14. But that’s not the song the movie ended up making famous
“If You Leave,” the love ballad that closes out Pretty in Pink, was written specifically for the film. Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark wrote the song in just two days, and it ended up becoming one of OMD’s biggest hits.
15. And it wasn’t even intended to be in the movie
As weird as it might be to think of Pretty in Pink ending to the tune of any other song, the finale track was going to be a different selection from the OMD catalogue, “Goddess of Love.”
16. There’s a reason that the film had a different closing anthem
In the original ending, Andie chose Duckie, not Blane. In fact, this ending was the one that test audiences originally saw, and when they objected that Andie had picked the wrong guy, the original ending was scrapped and the one we all know today was filmed instead.
17. This is not news if you were more of a bookworm than a movie buff
Back in the day, most major films had novelizations, apparently to appease people who wanted to keep up on Hollywood but who didn’t actually like moving pictures. Pretty in Pink was no different, but because the book was based on the original ending, it also had Andie ending up with Duckie – and that must have been a pretty major surprise to anyone who saw the movie first and then read the book.
18. The original ending was un-romantic for a wholly unrelated reason to boot
Ringwald was suffering from a horrible stomach flu when the original ending was shot. She was so weak, that she actually fainted onto Cryer while they were dancing together. As Cryer explains in this interview, Ringwald was bedridden for half a day. As he recalls it, her illness prevented the crew from shooting the movie the way they’d intended, and he posits that this could be a reason test audiences didn’t react well to that ending.
19. "If You Leave" wasn’t the only ’80s hit recorded specifically for the movie, either
The Echo & the Bunnymen track, released just a few months before Pretty in Pink hit theaters, was also written for the film. It ultimately hit No. 21 on the U.K. singles chart.
20. The soundtrack did well, independently of the movie
It’s a good listen, even if you’ve never seen Pretty in Pink, and doubtless it has served as many a young movie-goer’s primer to the new wave hits of the ’80s. It peaked as high as No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart.
21. Rolling Stone named it the 11th-best movie soundtrack of all time
Ranked squarely between the breakthrough hip hop soundtrack to Wild Style and the old-school folksiness of ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’, the Pretty in Pink soundtrack stands up even today. “Most 1980s teen flicks had soundtracks full of corporate-rock filler, but John Hughes curated this one into one of the finest new wave anthologies,” the magazine notes. “It’s all lavish sadness, with tunes from Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order and the Smiths – the kind of music Duckie needs to hear when he’s sitting alone in his room.”
22. Curiously, there’s one important Pretty in Pink song that didn’t make it onto the soundtrack
Duckie lip-syncing to Otis Redding’s 1967 hit “Try a Little Tenderness” is probably one of the film’s more famous scenes, but for whatever reason it’s never appeared on any version of the film’s soundtrack.
23. And a second not-on-the-soundtrack song has an interesting Ringwald family connection
The Rave-Ups appear in the film as themselves, performing the songs “Positively Lost Me” and “Rave-Up/Shut-Up.” Both songs are curiously missing from the official soundtrack as well, but they remained part of Molly Ringwald’s life in one key way: Her sister Beth Ringwald dated the band’s frontman, Jimmer Podrasky, and the couple had a son together, Chance, for whom the band’s 1990 single was named.
24. And in 2013, the soundtrack got the new vinyl release it always deserved
Yep, the record was bright pink.
25. Ringwald, Cryer and Potts reunited for the film’s 25th anniversary
The pictures look awesome, and Ringwald shared her thoughts on what she imagined happened to the characters after the end of the movie. She doesn’t imagine that Andie and Blane lasted, as a couple, though she’s sure that Andie and Duckie remained friends for life. One more thing: “I’m sure that Duckie has come out by now,” Ringwald joked. (I mean, come on – she can’t be the only one who thought this.)
26. Cryer reprised the role of Duckie – kinda-sorta
27. And that’s not the last time he did it, either
A 2015 skit on The Late Late Show had Cryer and James Corden doing dueling Duckies, each with his own take on his famous Pretty in Pink dance.
28. Ringwald, meanwhile, revisited her Hughesian days in a very different way
Warning: This clip features fairly NSFW language, but that’s kind of the point. Not Another Teen Movie sent up teensploitation flicks from both the ’80s and ’90s, and its faux-romantic finale features Ringwald herself, referencing Pretty in Pink directly and trying to talk some sense into lovesick teens.
29. It’s Molly Ringwald’s final John Hughes movie, but it almost wasn’t
There’s a script out there for a film titled Oil and Vinegar that allegedly was to feature Ringwald as a hitchhiker picked up by Matthew Broderick on the way to his wedding. They’d spend the movie together in a motel room, talking about life and living, Breakfast Club-style. The script was allegedly great. It remains to be seen if we’ll ever have one last John Hughes movie made.
30. John Hughes finally got his "Andie and Duckie" ending in Some Kind of Wonderful
This is just speculation, but it’s worth considering: Hughes wrote Pretty in Pink initially as a story about two friends realizing they’re in love. Ultimately, however, Andie ended up with Blane and not Duckie. The next year, however, Hughes wrote Some Kind of Wonderful, which features a similar love triangle with the genders switched: Eric Stoltz is Molly Ringwald (red hair and all), Mary Stuart Masterson is Duckie (the buddy whose feelings may be more than platonic) and Lea Thompson is the Andrew McCarthy (the attractive kid who’s popular in a way the other two aren’t). And in that movie, Stoltz and Masterson’s characters end up together. Andie and Duckie finally found love – just in a different movie.