Pretty in Pink (USA 1986)

Director: Howard Deutch

Starring: Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Andrew McCarthy, James Spader, Harry Dean Stanton, Annie Potts, Alexa Kenin, Kate Vernon.

Cinematography: Tak Fujimoto

Music: Michael Gore; various

Script: John Hughes

Fact: Director Deurch didn't want Spader to play the role of Steph because he thought he was an arsehole.

Fact: Kate Vernon is the daughter of favourite John Vernon, the slimy mayor, corrupt official or conscienceless businessman in many Don Siegel movies.

Fact; Alexa Kenin was murdered by persons unknown just after the film was completed. The film is dedicated to her. 

In one line: Poor girl falls in love with rich boy.


Andie (Ringwald) has won a scholarship to an exclusive school. She lives in a poor part of town with her unemployed dad (Harry Dean) and is worshipped by Philip F. "Duckie" Dale (Cryer), another (relatively) poor kid from the school. Andie falls in love with rich kid Blane (McCarthy - it's Hughes's fault) and they begin a relationship. Blaine's mind is poisoned by the Iago-like Steph (Spader) who has been spurned by Andie on a number of occasions. Steph manipulates the differences in Andie and Blaine's backgrounds to destroy the relationship and Andie is left without a date for the High School Prom. Andie borrows an old pink dress from her boss Iona (Potts) at the record store where she works and transforms it for her solo Prom date. A depressed and dishevelled Blaine has also gone to the Prom alone. When Andie appears in 'that' dress, he begins to understand how and why he has been used......


The second best of the Brat Pack teen movies*. The Breakfast Club is not number one (if you're wondering), being one of those films which exists in a Venn diagram section with such fare as Ghostbusters and The Goonies, where close examination reveals very little of pleasurable substance. 

Shite, in other word(s). 

Pretty in Pink when stripped down to its component parts is also fairly deplorable, but it's told with a certain amount of pace and style and verve, and it benefits from a group of talented actors.

There are many terrible things in this film:

  • 'Duckie' enters Iona's record store and mimes/performs Otis Redding's 'Try a Little Tenderness'. It is THE most embarrassing 'thing' in the history of film. Iona and Andie pull shocked/surprised and delighted faces. They should have said, "What the fuck are you doing?", switched the record off and banned him from the store forever.
  • Andie is given a nice dress by her friend Iona. She takes it home, and in a nifty montage sequence, she transforms the dress into something that the music   and framing tell us is supposed to be a stunning piece of amateur dressmaking. Now I'm no expert, but the newly re-fashioned dress is fucking dreadful. Andie/Ringwald just looks a buffoon. Blaine is supposed to be 'bowled over' by her appearance at the prom. Any normal 'bloke' would have thought "Effing hell! What a Terence! I dodged a bullet, there! (Whilst wiping his brow in a theatrical manner.) 
  • Iona is Andie's slightly older looking chum. She claims to have done a load of drugs at college in the sixties. Hurrah for all those nine year old college druggies! 
  • Andrew McCarthy's acting repertoire consists of 'eye smiling' and looking startled. He looks as if he eschewed the 'Method' for watching old editions of Bob Monkhouse on 'Celebrity Squares' or even Mike Yarwood's excellent 'impression' of the much-missed comedian/entertainer.

There are some good things as well:

  • New Order, The Smiths and The Bunnymen on the soundtrack. 
  • Iona's store stocks The Mighty Wah's 'Nah Poo - The Art of Bluff' - possibly the only oblique Pete Wylie reference in the history of 'motion pictures'. 
  • There is some unexpectedly salty language in the film to counter some of the more vomit-inducing interludes.
  • Cryer is often an annoying turd but some of his angst ridden acting is quite effective. He's particularly good when articulating his feelings of betrayal when he finds out that Andie has found someone she finds more attractive him: "Blane!? His name is 'Blane'? That's not a name, that's a household appliance!" 
  • Spader is good as the jealous and scheming Stef, although he wins the 'Eric Duffy from Please Sir' award for the most obviously oldest 'kid' at a fictional high school.

Other points:

Harry Dean Stanton phones in a lacklustre, lazy arse, but typically charming performance as Ringwald's lacklustre, lazy arse, scruffydad.

The final 'kids dancing at the prom' scene has the most risible dancing since the opening credits of not very fondly remembered Australian soap 'Young Doctors'.

Nik Kershaw's 'Wouldn't It Be Good' is included on the soundtrack, but is sung by an American unknown - presumably for the sake  of 'one laugh' at Kershaw's expense.

The plot of Pretty in Pink was 'resurrected' for Hughes's next film Some Kind of Wonderful.

Ringwald and McCarthy are currently residing in the 'Where are they now?' file; Spader went on to bigger and better things (but is now more of a TV star); Cryer's career took a 'nosedive' but he won a new following in the creepy hit shitcom 'Two and a Half Men'.

Harry Dean Stanton worked when he needed some ale money - right up to his death in 2015.

So then: Pretty in Pink - shite, but enjoyable, although its omnipresence on the various movie channels may hinder any lingering affection before the year is out.

*The underrated Catholic Boys/Heaven Help Us is easily the best.