Winner, Best First Monograph, British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies
In the 1980s and 1990s, John Hughes was one of Hollywood's most reliable hitmakers, churning out beloved teen comedies and family films such as The Breakfast Club and Home Alone, respectively. But was he an artist? Hughes, an adamantly commercial filmmaker who was dismissed by critics, might have laughed at the question. Since his death in 2009, though, he has been memorialized on Oscar night as a key voice of his time. Now the critics lionize him as a stylistic original.
Holly Chard traces Hughes's evolution from entertainer to auteur. Studios recognized Hughes's distinctiveness and responded by nurturing his brand. He is therefore a case study in Hollywood's production not only of movies but also of genre and of authorship itself. The films of John Hughes, Chard shows, also owed their success to the marketers who sold them and the audiences who watched. Careful readings of Hughes's cinema reveal both the sources of his iconic status and the imprint on his films of the social, political, economic, and media contexts in which he operated.
The first serious treatment of Hughes, Mainstream Maverick elucidates the priorities of the American movie industry in the New Hollywood era and explores how artists not only create but are themselves created.
Acknowledgments Introduction: The Making of “John Hughes” 1. Building a Brand: Universal (1984–1985) 2. Realities and Fantasies of Suburban Adolescence 3. The Creative Producer: Paramount (1985–1987) 4. Gender, Generation, and Coming-of-Age in 1980s America 5. Solid Family Fare: Universal (1988–1990) and Warner Bros. (1987–1993) 6. Pressures of Parenthood and Fantasies of Childhood 7. Family Film Franchises: 20th Century Fox (1989–1997) 8. Slapstick, Sentimentality, and the American Family Conclusion: Mainstream Maverick? Notes Index
Holly Chard is a senior lecturer in contemporary screen media at the University of Brighton. She holds a PhD from the University of Sussex.
A creditable and insightful argument for why Hughes is worth studying...readers interested in a serious study of Hughes and 1980s cinema will enjoy this engaging book.
[A] meticulously researched monograph...As Chard makes clear, mapping out Hughes’s career gives us access to an industrially and culturally significant filmmaker, but she also provides illustrative insights into the operations and priorities of the American film industry in the New Hollywood era.
One need not be a fan of John Hughes's films to find this book fascinating and enlightening...Building on extensive research, Chard meticulously describes Hughes's marketing strategies, alongside her analyses of his films' content...Chard's limpid writing style makes this book an easy reading assignment...Recommended.
An accessible book that uses complex theory to springboard into very readable prose about one of Hollywood’s great popcorn moviemakers...Chard’s multi-faceted approach makes her new work a rich and powerful study on a filmmaker who is now forever embedded in the American zeitgeist...Mainstream Maverick is a wonderful and straight-forward text that provides readers with a well-rounded understanding of not only John Hughes as writer and director, but also John Hughes as producer and marketer...Chard masterfully shows us throughout her lucid text the many facets of a true artist and businessman; in other words, a true auteur.
~Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
[Mainstream Maverick] scrutinizes Hughes's teen movies and family films of [the 1980s and 1990s] both as industrial products and as cultural texts. Consequently, it draws on a wide range of sources, including trade publications, newspapers, magazines, and ephemera, as well as Hughes's films and their paratexts.
An insightful study of Hughes's cinematic oeuvre...the proof of his auteur status is very much in Chard’s book. Her work checks, rehearses and confirms all criteria that determine the status of film authorship. This is indeed a very timely contribution as in the recent few years Hughes has received much attention in scholarly and media publications, and industry commemorations...As a study of popular culture, Chard’s monograph succeeds in placing Hughes’s films within their historical and ideological context, and detailing the industrial practices and commercial urges that defined his work.
~European Journal of American Studies