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  Pretty in Pink The Right Side Of The Wrong Side Of The Tracks
Year: 1986
Director: Howard Deutch
Stars: Molly Ringwald, Harry Dean Stanton, Jon Cryer, Annie Potts, James Spader, Andrew McCarthy, Jim Haynie, Alexa Kenin, Kate Vernon, Andrew Dice Clay, Emily Longstreth, Margaret Colin, Jamie Anders, Gina Gershon, Bader Howar, Christian Jacobs, Kristy Swanson
Genre: Comedy, Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) is a month away from high school graduation and still nobody has asked her to the prom, in fact although she's trying not to let it get to her she's more than a little embarrassed about the situation. The real reason she thinks is that she doesn't fit in at the school, since she won a place as essentially an act of charity given out by the establishment there reaching out to bright, poorer kids who wouldn't have the chance at a decent education otherwise, and seeing as how most of the rest of the students are from privileged backgrounds, it wouldn't be the done thing to ask out someone lower down the social ladder. Still, if Andie is growing lonely for male company, there's always her friend since childhood Duckie (Jon Cryer)...

It's often forgotten in the canon of nineteen-eighties teen movie behemoth John Hughes that he didn't actually direct Pretty in Pink, the man at the helm was Howard Deutch who he collaborated with for a few projects until Deutch moved almost permanently into television. But to all intents and purposes, this looked and sounded like Hughes had been behind the camera all the time, it was his dialogue the actors were spouting and that cast appeared handpicked by him, not least because his muse Molly Ringwald was taking the lead role. They fell out after this, alas, and never worked together again, which led her performing career to slip away as she was too associated with the past, and he for whatever reason lost interest in movies and had been lost to that world for years by the point of his death.

Still, we'll always have Pretty in Pink, probably the best Hughes/Ringwald effort and that was down to its subject matter, not one which often bothered teen comedies from Hollywood unless it was your basic slobs vs snobs plot. Class was what it was all about, as the girl from the wrong side of the tracks is finally asked out by one of the rich kids, he being Blane (Andrew McCarthy, looking as sensitive as ever) who sees the potential for a valued relationship in Andie that he wouldn't get with the other girls. Trouble is, for one thing she is suspicious of his motives, having a bad experience of bullying from her fellow students including Blane's supposed best friend Steff (James Spader already honing the sleazeball persona to perfection), and for another, she would feel guilty about leaving Duckie behind to fend for himself.

Ah, Duckie, the trigger for the most heated debate in eighties movies, never mind who if either is the alien at the end of The Thing, what concerns most people is whether Andie should choose him or Blane, and there are plenty of level headed opinions on why one was better or worse than the other - some even pick neither. They both have their drawbacks, but Hughes' script was careful to write in positives and negatives for each, with Duckie immature and too wrapped up in Andie to get a sense of perspective, understanding she sees him more as a brother than a potential lover, and Blane falls victim to peer pressure making him something of a coward who really could have stood up for his gut instinct that she was a girl worth any amount of disdain from people whose point of view had little value anyway.

But Pretty in Pink - named after the Psychedelic Furs' song about a prostitute, let's not forget - had other characters in it too, and they made up one of the richer textures in Hughes' creations. Harry Dean Stanton was Andie's father, abandoned by the love of his life some time before to bring up his daughter on his own, and pining for her to the extent his existence has dwindled to a series of dead end part time jobs, that's when he's employed at all, a reminder that romance doesn't necessarily enjoy a guaranteed happy ending. Also more comedic was Annie Potts as Iona, Andie's boss at the record store, someone you can imagine had a great time with the New Wave but now is finding she has to settle down, another indication that teen years can only be prolonged so long. If you could look past the ending, with a mute appearance by Kristy Swanson nudging this into science fiction territory, then you had a sincere examination of social strata that may not have been particularly funny considering it was billed as a comedy, but had real worth in dramatic ways. Music by Michael Gore.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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