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You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation Paperback – February 22, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The phrase was coined by David Blum in the headline Hollywood's Brat Pack, heralding his cover story for the June 10, 1985, issue of New York magazine with its cover photo of Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, and Judd Nelson. The label stuck, Gora notes, and extended to describe other actors: Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, and Anthony Michael Hall. A former editor at Premiere, Gora guides the reader through the creation of the teen cinema of the 1980s, described by the American Film Institute as the cultural phenomenon which helped make us what we are today. To recall the era, she interviewed two dozen actors, plus the directors and producers behind the Brat Pack's memorable movies, including The Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo's Fire and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. As Gora sees it, The films changed the way many young people looked at everything from class distinction to friendship, from love and sex to fashion and music. Writer-director John Hughes's ability to capture adolescent angst is highlighted. The 1980s youth films maintain their popularity on TV and DVDs, and Gora gives them near-encyclopedic, comprehensive coverage. (Feb. 9)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Concentrating on the making of such seminal films as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, Say Anything, Home Alone, and, of course, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Gora’s celebration of writer-director John Hughes (1950–2009) tends to be exhaustive and often exhausts. Gora cites the New York Times’ A. O. Scott on Hughes—he “was our Godard”—and Roger Ebert’s characterization of him as “the philosopher of adolescence” to orient her essay exploring what she calls cine-sociology, “the concrete sociological impact that movies can have on our lives.” She discusses the origin of the sobriquet Brat Pack, offers biographical portraits of Hughes and many of the actors most associated with his movies, discusses the music of the so-called Brat Pack films (it was a crucial factor in their success), and considers how the Brat Pack films changed a generation. Although probably too self-important for its own good, this is still a must for Hughes admirers and students of American pop culture. --June Sawyers --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (February 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307716600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307716606
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This was a truly addictive read. Author Gora has broken down the fascination that we had and continue to have for movies directed at the teen audiences of the '80's. While providing running synopsises of the movies that captured audiences when they were made, Gora has interviewed the actors, writers, and directors and assorted key players that made the movies inordinately popular box office blockbusters.
Reading this book helped me to revisit the movies themselves. I think that a certain amount of distance enhanced the experience of reading this book. Gora informs her reader that John Hughes extracted a lot of what went into his scripts from real life experiences that happened to himself and his friends. One occured when a friend of his took Hughes and their girl friends to the Union League Club in Chicago because the friend's father had a membership there. I roared because anyone who has ever been there would know that the Union League Club is one of the stodgiest exclusive clubs west of Boston. And so it goes that Ferris Buehler became the sausage king of Chicago.
The term 'brat pack' was bandied about a lot when these films were made, but there seemed to be solid evidence from the actors that there was an extended family of sorts forged and many of these relationships exist in one form or another today.
While it wasn't all love and kisses while these films were being made, for the most part these productions became classic examples of really good ensemble acting and it all worked amazingly well.
The major suprise that the book had for me was that this book was not all about John Hughes who died in 2009. This book looked at other popular teen movies made in that era. One film analyzed was a critical failure SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL.
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Other reivews of this book convinced me to buy it and they're very on target. It's not full or pictures and the interviews prove that hindsight is 20/20, but there is a gossip-feel to it. It's not a serious film text and it's not People magazine but somewhere in between. For someone like me who saw the films a million times it's interesting to hear about how the characters were formed and the filming and how it all came together. A really enjoyable read and each chapter stands on its own.
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Format: Paperback
I consider this book to be pretty good because of how much information it gives. Obviously a lot of research was done to put it together, taken from years and years of articles and interviews with the people that it's about. So there's a lot of content and a lot here that people would be learning for the first time and unlike Wikipedia, you know you can believe it. However, I thought a lot of stuff was repeated throughout the book, and even a lot repeated within the same chapters which could have been taken out to make it a lot shorter. I came to the conclusion that I couldn't really agree with the author's opinion, which seems to be her siding with the actors who think the brat pack label was the reason some of their careers didn't pan out. The truth is some did and some didn't so it couldn't have been the name. Most actors start out popular and in good movies and then fizzle and/or get bad roles, that's just how it is. I was just a baby during the "brat pack" years but am a big "brat pack" movie fan and it wasn't the book that was disappointing, but more some of the behind the scenes stories about some of the whiny actors and finding out John Hughes was actually a douche.
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Since there are no more John Hughes films this is another way to enjoy some of his great films. This is written for folks that already love the movies the book discusses, but a lot of this material is included among the extras in the "Flashback" issues of these films. Still, this is an entertaining way to enjoy the material and there's some bits of history here that are not in the video "extras." This is definitely not an academic work but it's a fun read for those who love these movies.
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First, I am puzzled by the reviews that say that this book is "about the 'Brat Pack'." Although that was a theme that understandably came around three or four times through the book because it can't be ignored (and actually put in the title for book-selling juice), this was actually about the planet called John Hughes and everything that was in its orbit during his career. This is a worthwhile topic because the guy was a prolific, quirky, enigmatic genius who influenced a lot of people for the better part of 30 years.

Because everything revolves around the John Hughes era (and his life), it has a beginning and an end. The average writer could have taken the easy, strictly chronological approach. But in this book, we often come back to the same information about the subject actors' lives four or five times, just with different words. At first, you wonder if there is an organization issue, but Gora is really just taking a circuitous route which, for our enjoyment, may have roads that intersect each other several times.

There is a bit of a "gushing" tone throughout, and the idea that every actor is brilliant and should have a mantle fill of Oscars (not exactly her words but you'll see) seems a little hard to take. But really the book is about love for the era and the people who meant a lot. So just feel the love and you'll blow through this, feeling enriched and moved.
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