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As the pandemic rages on, it’s time for another of my favorite go-to movies: Pretty in Pink.

Pretty in Pink is the third in what became a trilogy of teenage films written by John Hughes. First came The Breakfast Club then Sixteen Candles. Molly Ringwald was in both and the story goes that Hughes wrote Pretty in Pink for her.

Ringwald’s character, Andie, is a high school senior –  creative, smart, and poor. Her best friend Duckie, played by Jon Cryer, is hopelessly in love with Andie, but his humor and charm go unnoticed. However, cute and sensitive Blane, played by Andrew McCarthy, is very much in focus for our heroine as he crosses the tracks from his slick wealthy existence into her world, which is more interesting if rather dingy. Of course there is a villain (James Spader) and an older hip mentor (Annie Potts) and lots of teenage strife, broken hearts, and a couple of really satisfying dramatic scenes.

When this film came out my first thought was: “Ahem, pink is not pretty on redheads.” As a redhead myself, I know the two colors we cannot wear are pink and red. Perhaps deeper shades of these colors, but not the classic pink and red … no way!

This is because, in my opinion, red hair is very striking and therefore other vibrant colors clash. We need deep shades that don’t compete, such as burgundy, mauve, navy, and we all know a redhead’s best color is green. Apparently, Ringwald had a “predisposition” for pink, hence the movie’s title.

That aside, Pretty in Pink is a fun film for its 80s nostalgia, the teenage romance, and of course, the costumes! Watching Andie today it seems that her quirky sense of style is rather timeless. She would stand out in this era just as much as she did in the 80s. Costumer Marilyn Vance worked closely with Ringwald, who had much to say about her character’s clothing.

They shopped thrift stores and flea markets to create a look of vintage crossed with homemade crossed with (almost) granny. Andie sports cardigan sweaters often embellished with pins or lace. (Ringwald said in a 2006 interview that she still owns several of those sweaters.) Hats tied with a scarf. She likes layers and even did what I used to do – layer short socks over stockings. (Stockings not nylons, not tights.) Her jackets are vintage, her jewelry is antique style and at home she dons lovely Japanese kimono.

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Duckie also has a very unique style. I love his collection of bolo ties. He wears vintage jackets, vests, baggy pants and a pork pie hat. Oh, and a lot of very large rings. He gets bullied, but he’s true to his look.

Our third stylin’ character is Annie Potts as Iona. In every one of her scenes, she dons a different and extreme ensemble from a punk rubber dress and spiky hair to a preppy red blazer complete with super size shoulder pads.

As for the ordinary kids, Vance said that she shopped Kmart for their “ice cream” colored skirts, t-shirts, and sweaters. There are lot of light colored jeans and our wealthy fellas sport linen suits! One of my favorite parts of this film is Spader slithering around the high school hallways in his Italian loafers (no socks), hands stuffed in his linen trousers. We’re not supposed to like him, but I find his snotty attitude hilarious.

Beyond the costumes, I really enjoyed the very strong performances by the entire cast. No one other than Ringwald could have played this role, and surprisingly, Paramount looked at other actresses, including  Jennifer Beal. Finally the powers-that-be wised up and went with the actress for whom the part was written.

Ringwald is solid as Andie, able to be confident as the underdog, yet vulnerable when she’s let down. Anger is not a problem and even a little bitchy comes out from time to time. But the real star here, if you ask me, is Jon Cryer, who clearly put all he had into Duckie. Passion, vulnerability, humor, even some dance moves. His character is over-the-top and Cryer is able to successfully deliver that without putting off the audience. Plus, who could resist that winning smile?

Well, apparently Ringwald could. She had a lot of input on casting the film and although she admitted that Cryer was a strong contender, she also liked Robert Downey Jr. for the role. She thought he was cute and could see herself (Andie) falling for him. She did not feel the same for Cryer. How it was that he was cast and not Downey is a part of the story not shared. But there is something else.

The ending we see in the film is not the original ending. SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the movie (or don’t recall) and don’t want to know the ending, stop reading and go watch. Originally, after Blane disappoints Andie, she realizes the true love of Duckie is what she wants and they end up together at the prom. The whole script was written to follow this direction. They filmed the ending as written, despite Ringwald’s insistence that it was all wrong. Then they showed a test audience and … the audience booed. The young women wanted Andie to have “the cute boy.” So, Hughes quickly rewrote the ending (the quickly part shows) and six months after the first wrap they re-shoot the ending and Andie goes off with Blane, who has awkwardly redeemed himself.

The decision to change the ending remains controversial and even some very young audiences watching the film today think Duckie was the right guy for Andie. Still, the movie was a hit at the time and has since become a cult favorite.

I could write so much more, but I’ve gone on long enough. Pretty in Pink is a great escape from today’s social media, cell phones, bad news, pandemic. Turn it all off and go back to a time when we still bought records. Speaking of that, the soundtrack was a big hit too.

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